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Corn Flakes: University Orientation - Do Parents Need More Help Than Students?

I spent Saturday at Parent’s Orientation as I have one going to UMN. It was an... interesting day. That, and News!

Saturday was parent’s orientation at the University of Minnesota, given that I have a rotten kid who's officially going there, I thought Mrs CN and I might as well find out what they're all about. Normally at these things I sit toward the back and make comments that of course everybody finds amusing. I do this because I'm a really funny person and of course everyone else thinks so as well, all of the time, although I don't get invited to many parties.

Saturday I did not do that as it was clear that there are a lot of parents that need a lot of help. There were primarily three parents who asked the most questions. One got the idea they could sit there and ask questions all day despite the fact that those questions were already answered, in most cases, by the large handbook that was given out when you walked into the session.

The rotten son has decided to change his major to math which is in the College of Science and Engineering (CSE). He had previously been in the College of Design because he was interested in Architecture. Mrs. CN attended the session for the College of Design while I stayed with the College of Science and Engineering people.

Our presenter spent a lot of time talking about the difference in grading between high school and college. She pointed out that most of the students are the smartest in high school, that when they get to college they're just one smart person out of all the rest. She pointed out how much students struggle with this especially in the first semester. She showed an example of grades for freshmen students from the first mid-term from three different classes:

Calculus I - 75%

Chemistry I - 65%

Physics - 55%

She said that most students had never seen these types of grades in high school, but that these were common grades in college. One got the feeling she was trying to prepare the parents for dealing with their kids as much as anything else. You could tell some parents were struggling with these concepts as well.

When it came to the session with housing the presenter asked how many kids were already doing their own laundry. Slightly less than half the room raised their hand. These kids have less than three months before they’re going to leave home and these parents have not prepared them to live in the world? This is laundry we're talking about. It's not rocket science, yet, they haven't been made to do that?

I asked one question throughout the entire day. It came during a session in which parents were supposed to ask four students any question they wanted. My question was, "What was the most difficult adaptation you had to make in moving from college to high school?". I concluded it with, "No duplicates."

I felt that the four students were very honest and open in answering their questions. I expected answers about time management and what I got was – one student talked about what it was like to fail a class when she'd never failed a class before and having to tell her father who didn't like failure much either. She talked about how it made her reevaluate her major because it was a core class.

Another talked about how he had decided to live with one of his best friends in his freshman year in the dorm. Excuse me, not "dorm", but "residential hall", as we were told by Housing that they no longer refer to those places as dorms. Anyway he'd known his best friend since sixth grade and they felt they'd make good roommates. He said everything was fine for about the first two months and been little things started to annoy each of them. He said he struggled with it as did his roommate and it finally got bad enough that they just had to sit down and have a nice long talk about it and straighten things out, which they did.

At one point a parent asked the students what was the most difficult thing about managing their money and concluded her question with, "because my son has never had to do that." The students mostly talked about how they spent money eating out, and how they learn to watch what they were spending, and "live like a college student".

It's not rocket science to teach your children how to manage money. You can start at age 5 when they go to the store give them one dollar and tell them they have one dollar to spend and have them learn what they're going to do with that dollar.

All in all it was a very informative day.

At the end of the day, I was going to go up to one of the students, tell him that he did a great job and ask him, honestly, if he thought I should convince my son to leave his Xbox One at home just to hear what his answer was.

One of the three parents that had monopolized questions from most of the sessions was already there. Another one was behind her.

The first parent asked a question. The student answered it. She started with another… that’s when I looked at her notebook in her hand and noticed she had an entire page full of questions.

I left.


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