Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Send-off parties help students and parents prepare for DU

While students around the country are enjoying the last lazy summer days before heading to campus, incoming first-year DU students and their parents are gathering to meet and mingle.

The University of Denver parent relations department hosts summer send-off parties in homes around the country from mid-July to mid-August. According to Parent Relations Director Laura Stevens, the events are designed to welcome first-year and transfer students and their parents into the DU family and answer questions about life at DU. 

The program began with four parties in 1996. In 2007, DU will host 21 parties across the country, from San Diego to Boston. Stevens works with the Office of Admission to identify areas with high populations of incoming students. Parents of current DU students living in the areas volunteer to host the events in their homes. Attendance varies from 20–65 people.

During the first hour of the party, families arrive, socialize and eat. In the second hour, the incoming parents meet with DU staff members while the incoming students meet with current DU students. 

“Breaking off from their parents allows the students to ask their questions with candor,” Stevens says.

Students commonly ask questions about student life, while parents are concerned about safety, alcohol use and financial aid. Representatives from the admission office and the student life division attend each event to help answer questions.

Response to the parties is positive, especially from the parental perspective. 

“The send-off party relieved a great deal of anxiety for my son, who was the only one from his high school that chose DU,” said one parent in a post-event survey. “He immediately connected with some of the students and was invited to participate in some activities with them before they all left for DU.”

Stevens feels a great sense of accomplishment when she sees concerned parents leave a party feeling comfortable and confident about sending their child to DU.

“Years ago, students were on their own when they were at college,” Stevens says. “But times have changed, and technology has changed the level of communication that parents have with their children.

“Our job is to facilitate that communication, help parents empower their children to become self-sufficient, and to help parents and students during this time of transition,” Stevens says.

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