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College Student Guide: How to Prep for Parents Weekend

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Parents Weekend goes by fast. Make the most of it!

Parents Weekend goes by fast. Make the most of it!

Parents Weekend can bring students both excitement and anxiety. This is especially true of college freshmen, whose parents are often arriving on campus for their first extended visit.

My first Parents Weekend seemed to come just as my new college social life was starting to feel comfortable. I had made a solid group of friends and was enjoying myself, but now my parents were coming to campus. At the same time, I had been away from mom and dad for the longest period of time in my life, so I was thrilled to see them again. I remember feeling torn between excitement and nervousness. Conflicts like these are common, so here are some tips to make the weekend a success:

Make a Plan, Including Reservations

Having gone to college in a tiny town of less than 8,000 residents, this step was especially important. Many small college towns have only a handful of hotels and restaurants, and the influx of parents in one weekend overwhelms them.

My freshman year, my parents did manage to find a place to stay... but it was a 20-minute drive away. Had we booked earlier, this wouldn't have been the case. Even worse, our much-looked-forward-to dinner turned into takeout pizza when all the restaurants within a reasonable distance were booked. Whoops. The moral of the story? Book a hotel at least a month ahead and a restaurant a week in advance. Give your parents advice, too; you likely know your college town better than they do!

Do Homework Ahead of Time

When your parents arrive, you're not going to want to worry about homework. Try to put in extra effort during the week so when the weekend comes around, you don't have to scurry off to the library to finish a paper. I was proactive about this, and it paid off.

You might want to consider looking at your course syllabi as far as two weeks in advance to make sure you really get a head start. Doing so will allow you to maximize parent time during Parents Weekend.

Be Your Parents' Guide

I remember when my parents arrived on campus my freshmen year they could barely find a place to park, let alone my dorm room. While campus might seem straightforward and easy to you, remember how you felt on your first day (probably lost and confused). Mom and Dad will probably have no idea where anything is on campus.

Make Parents Weekend stress-free by offering to show them around and staying with them throughout the weekend. You'll know best about what activities and events are happening and where they're located. So consider yourself your parents' guide!

Enjoy Yourself

While you've made new friends and want to enjoy them, remember that they'll still be on campus when parents weekend is over. Your parents been away from you for at least a month and are eager to see you. I distinctly remember feeling like time with my parents meant missing out on time with my friends, but this is NOT the case.

One way to strengthen both your new friendships and your relationship with your parents simultaneously is to set up a group activity. We all had a barbecue together one evening, and my parents and my friends' parents really hit it off. Plus, my parents liked meeting the new people with whom I'm spending all my time!

Keep in mind that Parents Weekend requires some planning to be a success. Way ahead of time, think of ways to ensure the visit goes smoothly — such as making reservations in advance and helping your parents navigate campus — and it's sure to be a great opportunity to see each other after some time apart. Enjoy it!

Image source: Flickr