Resources for Parents & Families of Graduating Students
Transition for graduating WOU students involves a few important pieces:
Students will be embarking on another transition in their lives, not unlike the transition a student makes when coming to WOU in the first place! This time around, however, the student will have experienced a few more life-altering events and will likely have more skills necessary to handle this transition.
From a student's perspective, however, they are leaving the friends and security that comes with Western Oregon University. They are leaving a flexible schedule to one that is more rigid. They may have to worry about moving, finances, relationships and many more pieces to this transition than before.
Parents should again be supportive of students during this period, but by now the students will have to assume a much greater responsibility for the choices they do (or do not) make. Students shouldn't wait until the end of spring term at graduation to visit WOU's Service Learning and Career Development office. This should be an ongoing piece throughout a student's college career. Think ahead to your student's transition and pose the topics that s/he may not have thought of. Does the student have enough money saved for an apartment? Do they have transportation to and from work? What is the timeline for graduate school applications? How will a student move from their current location near WOU to a future location with graduate school or work?
Western Oregon University has a Commencement webpage that talks about graduation. Click HERE to go to the WOU commencement webpage for the details.
This date is special for WOU. Students will gather in the New PE Gym to line up in order. Once that is done, they will walk into the stadium and be greeted with hugs and handshakes by WOU faculty and staff. Once they are seated, the program will begin. The program lasts for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours in all weather - so be prepared for whatever June weather in Oregon can bring! Once the program is complete, there is a reception on the Grove. Diplomas are mailed to students after graduation, so your students will receive a case only, pending verification of all WOU graduation requirements!
Students will think of this as family AND friends time. This will be a time for them to mark the occasion with the friends they have known for the last four or five years. Allow them to divide this time as needed. Expect exhilaration, fear, excitement, confusion, stress and more during this time!
Western Oregon University's Service Learning and Career Development office offers great resources for parents and families of graduating students. You can find their webpage by following this link: http://www.wou.edu/student/career/parent.php.
An additional website you may wish to examine would be at www.jobweb.com. Follow this link for helpful hints for parents of graduating students: http://www.jobweb.com/parents.aspx?id=42.
Some of the transition for students moving on to graduate school are purely logistical - financial matters. Students will be reaching ages where they no longer qualify for being under a parent's insurance plan, students will qualify for more financial aid if they are financially independent of parents, tuition costs are greater and much, much more. Your connections to the graduate school institution are bound to be quite a bit less than the connections you have made to WOU. Simply, your student will be very familiar with the university life, but they may have anxiety about the additional challenges that academic life in graduate school can bring. Graduate school indeed will be more work than undergraduate education, but a big bonus is that everyone there in the program will be committed to learning and being there. The academic experience will often be more fulfilling for the student.
This website is written for students, but works very well with the financial logistics related to graduate school: http://www.nelliemae.com/managingmoney/grad_tips.html.
Moving Back Home? Moving Away?
As students determine or find their career paths - whether it is graduate school, a career or wanting "time away", parents often may be a little surprised by the particular choice. How will you react as a parent if your student tells you that they have taken a new job...1000 miles away? The transition from childhood to adulthood becomes more final once that career path takes them away from home. Be prepared to help (or not) your student move to new locations, assist with finding apartments or housing, buying new clothes, etc. Be open to assisting and financially supporting your student until s/he is able to "get on their feet."
But what happens if your student doesn't have an immediate option or asks if they can live at home? Your freedom that you have enjoyed with an "empty nest" may suddenly feel a little less free! Some guidelines and rules for returning to the home often make sense. Think in terms of what you might ask someone who would rent a room. Would you request some quiet hours in the house? Would you expect rent to be paid? This isn't a bad idea for many of the students, especially if they are working. It applies some responsibility and a desire to eventually work to leave. How will other rules of the house take place? Most students will not abide by a curfew, but communication is important since you are still in a parental role.
Here is a great link to an article that describes how best to work with your students who return back home to live with parents: http://www.newyorklife.com/cda/0,3254,13762,00.html.
There are four different ways to contact the Parents Association
Parents (503) 838-8814 | or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org