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March2012 Volume 7 | Issue 4

Dear CSU Parents and Families:

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We can’t believe how quickly this semester is passing!!  With only 3 weeks until Fall Break, students are continually working to keep up with things on campus - academic demands, wellness, and hopefully a bit of fun – and are likely ready for a break.  If you haven’t sent a care package, now is the time. 

As we head into the last full month of the semester, we want to touch on a few timely topics of interest:  preparing for Fall Break and Fall Commencement. 

Fall Break is officially November 17-25, 2012.  Have you talked with your student about obligations and expectations?  It’s important to remember students have been “on their own” for the last few months, so a newfound independence might be an adjustment for both of you over the break.  As students have been challenged academically, socially, and emotionally this semester, they may be hoping for an opportunity to sleep, eat home cooked meals, get laundry done, and just relax over the break.  Are you on the same page?  Or are there obligations you are expecting of your student during this time?  Starting the conversation now and being open to compromise can help you and your student make the most of the break.  Some of the talking points we recommend are as follows:

  • What are the curfew expectations?
  • What do you envision their contribution to family life will be?  Chores?  Family dinners?  What are their expectations?
  • How will you negotiate family gathering expectations and your student's need for some down time after midterms?
  • Will they need time to do homework?
  • How much time will they spend reconnecting with high school friends and/or visiting new friends?

Next, fall commencement will be held December 14-15, 2012.  The graduation model used at Colorado State is decentralized, so dates/times/locations of individual ceremonies are decided by the respective colleges.  To be eligible to graduate, students must submit an Intent to Graduate form through RAMweb.  With this form and confirmation they've met all graduation requirements, students will begin to receive commencement information from their respective colleges.  Students planning to graduate should meet with their academic advisor to ensure they've completed all of the proper paperwork & are qualified to graduate.  Please use the CSU Commencement website as a comprehensive resource to find graduation information.  On this site, families can find:

We also offer live webcasts of the ceremonies, if you're not able to attend in person.   Last, but definitely not least, we hope you'll consider using RAMFAM Association Business Directory partners as you plan your stay!

Lastly, many families have inquired about the Housing Options After the First Year presentation given during Homecoming & Family Weekend.  If you were unable to join us in person, please know we’ve posted all of the information on the Parent & Family Programs website, complete with contact information for each presenter.  We hope you find it useful!

We close with big thanks for your support of CSU students.  Research tells us parents and families are the biggest influence on deciding to seek a college education, on retaining students semester to semester, and on graduation.  We wish this for all CSU students and are thankful for all you do.  Have a great November.

take care,

Jody & Kacee

Jody Donovan, Ph.D.
Dean of Students/Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs

Kacee Collard Jarnot, M.S.
Assistant Director of Parent & Family Programs

Parent and Family Programs
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs
Colorado State University
201 Administration Building
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(970) 491-5312

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Academic Advising Insights:  Advising Satisfaction

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Books and Apple

By Gaye DiGregorio, Director of the Center for Advising and Student Achievement, Colorado State University


Students should be registered for spring semester before Fall Break. If they aren’t, they need to make an appointment with their advisor as soon as possible.

Academic Advising Experience

George D. Kuh (2008), Chancellor’s Professor of Higher Education Emeritus at Indiana University Bloomington and the founding director of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) wrote that “the quality of advising is the single most powerful predictor of satisfaction with the campus environment for students at 4 year schools.”  Consequently, it is our hope that your student is getting the most out of the academic advising experience as possible at Colorado State. 

If your student is sharing with you that they are not satisfied with the academic advising experience, some questions to consider are:

When did your student see his or her advisor? If the appointment/session happened during peak advising time (October-November or April-May), your student may want to set up another appointment during a slower period when more time is available to talk and formulate an academic plan.

Was your student prepared when they saw their academic advisor?  Preparing for an appointment could include reviewing the major check sheet for declared students or the Academic Interest Sheet for undeclared students, and compiling a list of questions and possible courses for next semester.

Did your student share what they would like to discuss in the advising session? Sometimes students wait for their advisor to bring up an issue they would like to discuss and when the advisor doesn’t, the student is disappointed. It is important to encourage your student to reflect on what they would like to talk about in the advising appointment and to bring up those topics during the advising session.

A recommended first step is to make another appointment with the advisor to try to improve the situation.  If the student does want to change advisors, suggest that they contact the academic department or CASA.  In the majority of departments a change of advisor is possible.  In some smaller departments, only one advisor is available. In those cases, if a student wants to share concerns about his or her academic advisor, the appropriate contact is the department head.  Working toward improving the academic advising experience can be empowering and beneficial for students.

Kuh, G. D. (2008) Advising for Student Success. In Gordon, V., Habley,W., Grites, T.J., and Associates,  Academic Advising A Comprehensive  Handbook  (p.73). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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Assessment Results: Homecoming & Family Weekend

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Homecoming & Family Weekend

By Maria Marinucci, Graduate Assistant for Parent & Family Programs

Thank you so much to those of you who were able to attend Homecoming & Family Weekend and then complete our survey!  Your feedback really helps us assess what is going well and how we can improve future events.  From your responses, we learned:

  • Most of you heard about Homecoming and Family Weekend either from the Homecoming & Family Weekend or Parent & Family websites (37.5%) or through e-mail communications (37.5%)
  • The majority of you chose to visit CSU over Homecoming and Family Weekend to connect with your student
  • The football game was the top rated event of the weekend, followed by the parade and tailgate
  • More than 95% of you felt participating in Homecoming & Family Weekend helped you develop a positive relationship with CSU

Based on your feedback, we will bring the following suggestions/comments to the Homecoming & Family Weekend Steering Committee:

  • Move t-shirt distribution back to the Alumni Center during check-in, rather than at the tailgate
  • Add a note on the Athletics website indicating a Homecoming package for this weekend prior to purchase
  • Possibly offering some sort of parent gathering, particularly for those who live out of state

As always, you can click here to see our full assessment (with some use of wordle), but in closing, we wanted to share some comments from survey participants:

  • Just like Preview and RAM Welcome, it was a first-class operation, full of fun and a sense of belonging to the CSU community.
  • Fun but weather was way toooo cold coming from MD!!!! Realize CSU does not have control over the weather....YET! Otherwise wholesome fun and students were so happy.
  • I think CSU does a wonderful job of keeping parents informed and helping parents feel connected to CSU. I feel more connected to CSU than the local colleges that my other children attend. Being out of state, I especially appreciate the web casts of the family meetings as well. Thank you!

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Reasonable Expectations:  Building Self-Advocacy for Academic Advising at CSU

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Student Initaiting Conversation during an Academic Advising appointment


By Jody Donovan, Dean of Students & Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs

What should students do to maximize their academic advising appointments at Colorado State University?  I spoke with a successful upper-division student about what he does to prepare for his advising appointments and here are a few tips and strategies to pass along to your student (these are tips for students, not for parents and families):

  • Get the check sheet for your major (or majors).  These check sheets are available on individual department websites. Study these check sheets so you know every requirement for the major(s) and the All-University Core Curriculum (AUCC).
  • Go on RAMweb and get your DARs (Degree Audit Reports). This will list all the courses you’ve taken and the requirements these courses fulfill. You can then see what is missing and what you still need to take. This provides a visual representation that can be overwhelming, but sit with it until you understand it.
  • Create a draft Excel document for a 4 year plan utilizing the check sheet(s), DARs and the online Course Catalog (don’t worry about making this perfect because it WILL change many times).
  • Put study abroad, minor(s), and any other additional academic options into your 4 year plan.
  • Sign up for an advising appointment as early as possible (at least 3 weeks before registration).
  • Go on to RAMweb and pretend to register (by completing Registration Ready, students can find the exact date and time they are able to register for classes), create an excel grid for the semester and then add in the possible classes to see if they fit.
  • Write down the Course Registration Numbers (CRNs) for the classes so you can type them in when registering and don’t need to go back and forth with the course catalog.
  • To prepare for your advising appointment, think about questions and discussion topics including:
    • The order of classes, prerequisites, recommendations for which classes to take first to help with future courses.
    • How many “hard” classes per semester (and which classes) to avoid overloading each semester.
    • Which classes are good to take together during the semester versus which classes should not be taken in the same semester.
    • Discuss the DARs report.

This student estimates he takes between 1-1.5 hours to prepare for his advising appointments because he revisits his 4 year plan before and after every appointment.  He also shared this 4 year plan changes after every advising appointment, so he has to remain flexible and ready to negotiate with his advisor.

When asked about concerns about “mis-advising,” he shared that it is important to ask the advisor a lot of clarifying questions until you understand fully.  That, sometimes, it’s not mis-advsing so much as it is students not understanding the process or taking the initiative to ask follow up questions.  He also said he takes thorough notes during his advising sessions and shows them to his advisor before he leaves so he knows the information is correct. He believes it is important to be one’s own expert based on good conversations with the academic advisor and a thorough review of RAMweb and DARs.

In addition to the tips given in the Academic Advising Insights article above, if the student feels the advisor has not provided accurate information, he or she should go to the department chair with this concern. It is important for a student to take the lead in this process, as he or she was the person in the advising session of concern. Ultimately grievances regarding advising are heard by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs after the department chair and dean of the college have been consulted.

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CSU Cleared to Begin Stadium Fundraising

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By Kyle Henley, Director of Denver Public Relations for Colorado State University

Colorado State University recently received approval to move ahead with a fundraising campaign for a new stadium on the university’s main campus.

In October, the CSU System Board of Governors, which oversees the three-campus system, voted unanimously to affirm a recommendation from CSU President Tony Frank to begin an effort to raise private support for at least half the cost of the proposed $246 million stadium.

Since early 2012, CSU has been examining whether it is feasible to build a new stadium to replace the more than 40-year-old Hughes Stadium. A 15-person panel – the Stadium Advisory Committee – worked for seven months and delivered a report to President Frank in August that identified a potential site, highlighted funding options, examined parking, noise and neighborhood impacts, and captured public sentiment. Details about that effort are available on the CSU stadium website.

While the Stadium Advisory Committee determined it was feasible to build a stadium on campus, President Frank ultimately decided whether CSU should move ahead with the project. In an October email to campus, President Frank explained why he believes it would be in the long-term interest of Colorado State to proceed with plans to build a new stadium on the university’s main campus.

Looking ahead 50 years, President Frank wrote that “a well-maintained stadium located on the main campus, now with decades of tradition behind it, would be a great benefit to the university, providing a familiar venue for athletics, graduations, freshman convocations, band days, and other large events. And so, with that long view in mind, I support our moving forward to attempt to build such a facility.”

Some of his reasons include:

  • It would become an iconic multi-purpose centerpiece for the campus, hosting football games, athletic events, graduations, convocations, concerts and other large events.
  • It would help build a deeper connection between the university and students.
  • It would foster stronger ties with alumni who would return to campus to attend football games and other events.
  • It would be a useful tool in helping market the university to a broader audience.

In making the recommendation, President Frank reaffirmed his commitment that no state general funds, no taxes, no student fees and no tuition dollars should be used to build the stadium. Rather, he said that about half the money – $125 million – must come from private donors and that the other half could potentially be financed from revenues generated by the new stadium.

Such a financing package would likely require additional action by the Board of Governors at some point in the future, and President Frank said he will not take such a plan to the Board unless he was “extremely confident” the combination of private dollars and stadium revenues would cover the cost of the building the new stadium – and that the funding plan was fully in keeping with the long-term plans for the growth of the university.

President Frank set a two-year fundraising window based on the deferred maintenance needs at Hughes Stadium, which requires a minimum of $30 million in maintenance over the next decade. If a viable financing plan for the new stadium cannot be achieved within two years, the fundraising efforts will be suspended so the university can make the necessary investments in Hughes so that it remains a sound venue for CSU football.

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Help Us Help You...With the Things that Matter Most

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Concerned parent phone call, courtesy of Microsoft Office
By Jody Donovan, Dean of Students & Executive Director of Parent & Family Programs

"How far is Fort Collins from Grand Junction?"; "Where is the nearest Wells Fargo ATM?"; "My student has a flat tire on his bike, where can he get it fixed?" ;"What programs are planned for Homecoming & Family Weekend?"

These are just a few of the recent email inquiries Kacee and I have received from parents and families. As you know, we like to be helpful, and, we are doing our best to support 26,000+ CSU students' families, however, the above questions can be answered through a quick Internet search or by asking your student to do some research.  We also recommend perusing monthly e-newsletter articles, archived RAMFAM meeting videos, RAMFAM Business Directory with great recommendations for local businesses, the Facebook page and group, and the comprehensive Parent & Family website for ideas and quick answers to easy questions.  Kacee and our new graduate student, Maria, spend a great deal of time making sure detailed and timely information is available in a number of places for you to access 24/7.

We understand it may be quicker and easier for you to email us with your questions, however, we're feeling the strain of 26,000+ CSU students' families relying on us for quick, comprehensive responses. This is especially true when we have already spent significant time ensuring the information is already accessible in numerous online places.

While we respond to the above questions as we are able, we are asking you to help us help you with the "stuff that really matters".  Our priority is to dedicate our time for the more pressing questions and concerns such as, "My student was just recently diagnosed with a learning disability, how can she get academic accommodations?"; "My student has a university conduct hearing next week and I'd like to learn more about the process and potential outcomes"; "My student needs to miss classes due to an unexpected death in the family, can you help us notify her faculty?" or "My student just shared he hasn't been to classes for the past month, now what?"

Like many Americans in the last few years, we've experienced four years of budget cuts and have lost a number of positions within the Division of Student Affairs.  Due to this, the reality becomes that most CSU employees are doing the work of at least 2 people while also supporting a larger enrolled student population.  I'm sure most of you didn't know that Kacee and I have responsibilities above and beyond our working with CSU parents and families and I don't want you to believe we're too busy for you.  Instead, I want parents and families to know the important role you play in your student's success.  We want to work together to support your students.  We need your help as we balance the multiple demands on our time and focus.  So, before you pick up the phone or shoot us an email asking about a bakery recommendation, please check out the existing online resources.  You'll be surprised what you find!

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November RAMFAM Association Meeting: Career Center

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RAMFAM Graphic
When we asked parents and families in the biennial survey to share the greatest topics of discussion, 63% of you responded career development and helping students find jobs after graduation is on the top of that list.  Our Career Center is growing leaps and bounds to help meet the needs of students in this area, so we hope you’ll join us this month as the Career Center discusses all of their services, including getting jobs and internships.  Even if your student is not yet ready for an internship or graduation, the Career Center offers lots of resources to help students find their best careers and majors while at CSU.  This office offers lots of information and new ideas to students, so we hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to engage and learn more about their programs and services.  Here are the logistics:

Who:  All Parents and Families of CSU Students
When:  Saturday, November 10, 2012
Time:  10:00 am – Noon, Mountain Standard Time
Where:  Lory Student Center 214-216 on campus or online via the webcast and RAMFAM Blog
Cost:  FREE!!

Tentative Agenda:

  • Welcome & Networking Time for Families in the Room
  • Jobs and Internships with the CSU Career Center
  • Preparing for Fall Break & Fall Commencement

Look for details on meeting location & webcast logistics in a separate email and on the Parent & Family homepage the day before the event.

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Have You Sent Your Student a Care Package this Semester?

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Care packages
By Maria Marinucci, Graduate Assistant for Parent & Family Programs

It’s that time of year when many students need an emotional boost—and your student may be one of them!  It’s been a long, hard, couple of months and while break is just around the corner, it can still seem like a lifetime away with motivation nowhere to be found.  A care package can do just the trick!  Not only will it show your student how much you care, it can also be an easy way to get them things they want and need. 

It is often hard to think of what to include, but a few simple items can truly brighten your student’s day, week, and even semester.  The “perfect care package” completely depends on your student—he or she may need some snacks, some health and hygiene items, or maybe some additional school supplies after burning through those composition notebooks.

For the hungry student, a simple handwritten note with some homemade cookies, or some quick snack foods your student can use to get him or her through late nights studying, or that he or she can share with friends, is great.  You may also want to include some drink mixes or vitamin filled beverages to keep them healthy!

Ask your student if he or she is low on shampoo, conditioner, soap, or even in need of a toothbrush.  While there are plenty of affordable options around campus, sometimes finding the time to run out and grab those items is tough.  A little help will certainly be greatly appreciated!

If your student is in need of some containers, consider putting the care package items in something they can reuse.  You may also want to include some photos or drawings by younger siblings—just a little extra touch from home.  You can always use care package ideas from our website, as well.  If a care package is a bit much at this time, just a card can really encourage your student to power through.  Let him or her know you are proud reward your student with some love from home!

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Healthy Student, Happy Family:  Good Heath is Essential

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CSU Health Network Massage
By Marie Allen, Coordinator of Marketing & Communications, CSU Health Network

Good health is essential to academic success. The CSU Health Network is your student’s partner in staying mentally and physically healthy while at college.

Alert: Laced Marijuana
CSU Police and the CSU Health Network have heard a few reports this fall of students experiencing unusual symptoms after smoking marijuana and have sought emergency medical care. Students should be aware that marijuana and other drugs can be laced with other illicit, potentially harmful substances like PCP or ketamine. The best way to prevent a reaction is to avoid using marijuana. CSU is also reminding students that they should call 911 if an unusual reaction or behaviors occur. CSU's Responsible Action Exemption Policy states that students who call for themselves or fellow students in an alcohol or drug-related emergency may be exempt from University judicial consequences.

Great American Smokeout
If your student is looking to quit smoking, or any other form of tobacco use, consider telling them about this year’s 37th annual Great American Smokeout. This year’s event, set for November 15th, emphasizes the dangers of tobacco use and challenges users to quit for good. 

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. In Colorado alone, approximately 4,300 die each year from tobacco-related illnesses. The good news is that 85 percent of smokers in Colorado have indicated that they want to quit. Only about 3 percent of Coloradoans have quit successfully on their own with little or no outside support.  By choosing to quit for the day on November 15th, students can take the first step toward quitting. 
“The Great American Smokeout is a good time for college students to not only quit tobacco for a day but to raise awareness about the resources they have access to as students,” says Gwen Sieving, a health educator at CSU Health Network. “Resources like cessation counseling offered by the CSU Health Network can lead to a well-thought out plan which will increase their chances to quit for good.”

The CSU Health Network also recognizes the increasing use of hookah among college students and its potential risks at this year’s Great American Smokeout. Hookah is commonly perceived as a safe alternative for cigarettes, but recent studies done by organizations such as the World Health Organization and the American Lung Association have shown otherwise.

For more information about tobacco cessation services offered by the CSU Health Network, go to the CSU Health Network Health Education and Prevention Services page. Click the Tobacco Cessation tab.

Give the Gift of Massage
It’s that time of year. With midterms and research paper deadlines looming, students can begin to feel the pressure of life as a college student. Just as you have his or her whole life, you’ll want to do whatever you can to help lighten your student’s load. You may not be able to do the work, but there is something you can do to ease stress. Take advantage of CSU Health Network Physical Therapy’s healing massage for students. This month, instead of shopping for cookies and chips to send in a care package, call (970) 491-1735 to purchase a gift certificate for a healing massage for your student.

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