Family Weekend season is in full swing on college campuses across the U.S. Whether your college student is 30 minutes away at ASU, down in Tucson, up in Flagstaff, or on the other side of the country, parents must weigh the decision to attend or not. Isn’t our weekly FaceTime enough? Should we go all that way just to watch a football game?
My advice? Hop in that car or jump on that plane, fam. Here’s why:
1. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet your student’s new friends and some of their parents. Particularly if you have a freshman, it’s helpful to see who they’ve been hanging out with and chat with other parents about their perspectives on college life today.
2. There’s way more to do than simply go to a sporting event. Colleges and universities offer programming and activities for family members of almost every age. Take your pick from academic lectures and presentations, cultural and art performances, and even bouncy houses and face painting for younger sibs. Want a glimpse into Greek life? Fraternities and sororities roll out the red carpets (and Solo cups) for Mom and Dad!
3. There are always students whose parents can’t make it, so this can be your chance to take a couple of those kids out for a meal and include them in your family’s fun. Pay it forward, because at some point in time – that’s gonna be your kid.
4. Take a little time to wander around campus and the surrounding areas, now that your student is more familiar with their new home away from home. Enjoy a local restaurant and make a mental note of food and beverage spots for future gift card purchases!
5. Any chance for some extended face-to-face time with your kid is a gift. Many of them have moved past the initial excitement of starting college. They may be feeling some stress about now: midterms, laundry and adulting are legit. Let them vent – and also enjoy experiencing the growth that has already happened. (They may even have started to realize that parents are wise and helpful people!)
A key thing to remember about Family Weekend is this: Have realistic expectations of what your student may want to – and has time to – do with you. They have their own priorities and commitments, like coursework, clubs, and sleep. Talk about time restraints before you arrive, and give them their space.
And if you do attend that football game – may the home team win!