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Family Life

Visiting Your College Student

Lucy Ewing

You may not get to campus often, and then only for a weekend, so make the most of your time. Seasoned college parents share their favorite ways!

Tour the Town

Most students love showing their parents around campus and on into town, possibly straight to a favorite weekend brunch spot, ice cream shop or clothing store. Laura reports that she and her daughter Lizzie “have a few regular spots we have to visit each time I'm there. It's like a home-away-from-home now.” For my daughter Anna, it was a breakfast place called Duck and Bunny, where we ate eggs benedict and fruit waffles.

Plump the pillows

Some families don’t stray far from the dorm or apartment. Wendy and her daughter order in pizza, watch movies and catch up on life side by side on Daria’s bed.

Get back to nature

Head to a mountain, river or ocean for a hike, stroll or scenic photo op. At my son’s undergraduate campus in San Diego, all we had to do was cross the street to drop down into a state park with a pristine beach. Dan and Laurie camp near a reservoir when they visit their son and daughter at Colorado State University. “We hang out with the kids in their environment and then they come back to the campsite with us and it feels like a family camping trip.”

Meet the friends

Campus visits are a great time to meet your student’s roommate(s) and other new friends. Kirsten said: “We made it a priority to take our daughter out to lunch or dinner with all of her friends. We got to know them and put a face to the names that were so important to her. When one of our daughters recently married, we again took everyone out to lunch after the big day. Not only did all of these young adults thank us, one of them even toasted us at the rehearsal dinner!"

Meet a professor

You’re past the days of Parent-Teacher conferences, but it can be rewarding to meet one of the faculty members who is inspiring your student’s intellectual growth. At Family Weekend there will be departmental receptions, and at other times of the year you may be welcome to sit in on a class.

Plan ahead

Discuss course options with your student or plans for next summer or a semester abroad. Chances are a deadline is just around the corner. My daughter asked us to help her complete the application for her study abroad visa and we took her to get a passport photo, too.

Make it to the mall

Students may need to add to their wardrobe for a different climate, like rain boots or a winter coat. It’s also a good time to restock on personal care essentials and check in about computer accessories and other school supplies.

Join the stadium crowd

The Homecoming game, with associated pomp and festivities, is sometimes wrapped up into Family Weekend. For many parents it means sitting in the same stadium they rocked decades earlier when they were students themselves!

Be a groupie

Lisa, John and their dog Bentley follow their son Sam’s division III lacrosse team up and down the east coast. A nice benefit is the families’ post-game tailgates. Carol and Tim followed their son on stage in Colorado and, post-college, to Cincinnati’s Shakespeare Festival.

Book time at the Bookstore

Wrap up by choosing some campus logo-wear and souvenirs for home. Look for mugs personalized for grandparents, too!

Lucy Ewing is a National Board Certified Teacher with 20 years experience in public education and now supports the Reading to End Racism program in schools through the YWCA Boulder County. She also has a background in marketing and advertising. Across the years, Lucy has lent her writing talent as a freelance journalist for publications in the Denver/Boulder area and as a high school English tutor and essay coach. Her son, Russell, attends the M.F.A. program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and her daughter, Anna, attended the Rhode Island School of Design and works as a textile artist in New York City. Lucy and her software engineer husband hold down the fort in Boulder, frequenting concert, hiking and dining venues.
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