Greetings to each of you from the Parents Association Advisory Board. We hope that the fall semester has gone well, and that you and your student have settled into a comfortable routine.
For many students, adjusting to life in the residence halls means quite a change—like sharing a room or dealing with shower rooms, laundry, and mail. Three years ago our son was one of those students. He was very fortunate, however, to live in one of the University’s learning communities, where students with similar academic interests are housed on the same floor. Living in a learning community was a wonderful experience for our son because it made a large university so much more manageable. Many of the students in his community attended the same classes, so they could work on assignments and study for exams together in the floor lounge. Our son loved the socialization and activity level, and his particular group was able to stay together for two years before moving off campus. The community’s unofficial guidelines seemed to emphasize respect for residents’ boundaries and personal space, communication about common issues, and being friendly but not intrusive.
Learning communities offer a smooth transition to the University and to residence hall life. Roommate issues, however, are bound to arise from time to time. We can listen to our students vent, if need be, and also help them differentiate between minor annoyances and serious distractions as they learn to live in a group outside of their families. Most problems work themselves out, but if they persist or constitute a serious issue, parents should encourage their students to contact their resident assistant, or RA. The University has procedures for dealing with potential problems, and the RA is a first point of contact. Of course, any issue affecting a student’s security and safety should be addressed immediately.
Each year offers new challenges and experiences as students negotiate college life, and then very quickly it is time to start planning for the next year. At this point during the academic year, communication with your student may well involve living arrangements for next year. Space must be reserved in the residence halls by Feb. 5, and leases for off-campus housing often are signed early in the spring semester. (The University maintains a helpful guide for student renters at www.uiowa.edu/~offcamp.) Midyear also is a good time for an academic assessment with your student. A face-to-face talk can be very helpful and informative, and can help both parent and student as they plan for the next phase of the student’s academic career.
If you touch base with your student in Iowa City this winter, keep in mind that there are many things to enjoy on campus: Dance Marathon, basketball games, programs at Hancher, just to name a few. In addition, the Parents Association Advisory Board is available for extra assistance. Please to do not hesitate to contact any member of the Parents Association Advisory Board or the on-campus liaison, Belinda Marner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-335-3557.
Best regards to each of you.