For Parents and Guardians

student and parent

 

July 2014

Dear Parents and Guardians of the Class of 2018 and Transfer Students,

I am delighted that your daughter has chosen Bryn Mawr College and I am looking forward to her arrival in August. 

I’d worked in the Dean’s Office at Bryn Mawr for eighteen years before I truly understood what parents go through when their daughters leave home for Bryn Mawr.  That was the year my own son left to study at a college where he knew virtually no one.  I remember his momentary panic on move-in day followed just a few hours later by his suggestion that his father and I say goodbye and go home.  That year, I learned first-hand how much a student develops and how much a parent’s role evolves during the first year at college.  For him, there were a couple of bouts of homesickness, a few periods of self-doubt, some not-so-good decisions followed by creative and responsible solutions, and a whole lot of growing up.  And, for me, there was the discovery that I could follow my own advice and support him while letting go. 

My colleagues and I in the Dean’s Office want to help your daughter make a good start at Bryn Mawr and to see her flourish with her new independence.  And I firmly believe that your support and understanding will be crucial as she embarks on her first year.  She will want and need to be increasingly independent, but she will also need to know that your advice is available when she encounters difficulties.  Happily, your daughter has chosen a school that nurtures independence while providing support.  Bryn Mawr is committed in both philosophy and practice to taking students seriously -- as women and as scholars.  There is a long tradition here of treating students as adults, beginning with the granting of self-governance to the students in 1890, long before it was seen as possible at most other institutions.  Bryn Mawr’s honor system also assumes integrity and responsibility in the way students conduct themselves.  In advising undergraduates, the deans and faculty speak directly with them about issues of concern and encourage them to take responsibility for their education.  Like you, we try to strike the right balance between offering advice and allowing them to make their own choices.  We strive to express confidence in their good judgment, to respect their privacy, and to earn their trust. 

But all of our supports cannot replace those you provide.  Especially at the beginning of the year, parents are the ones most likely to hear about any issues of concern.  I will reiterate what you have probably heard from others or learned from your own experiences with an older child (and what played out with my own son): don’t panic over a few unhappy phone calls. They usually just signal the normal ups and downs of adjusting to a new environment, and will soon be followed by a disconcerting lack of communication that normally signals that everything is fine.  If things do not improve, however, and you become concerned, please call us or urge your daughter to speak with her dean if she has not done so already.  We can only help if we know when your daughter needs our assistance.  We want to support her and do what we can to ensure that her first experiences at Bryn Mawr will be good ones.

While the faculty and deans will work directly with your daughter, we will also encourage her to speak with you about problems or concerns that she brings to one of us. In emergency situations or when we discover that a student’s health or well-being is at serious risk, we will, of course, contact you.  For this reason, it is essential that your daughter provide us with your emergency contact information, that she update it online whenever there is a change, and that she check it for accuracy every semester.

But enough about separation anxiety!  Your daughter is embarking on a great adventure!  She is entering a place where she will be challenged and inspired.  She will be living in an international community and learning from faculty who exemplify the very finest examples of scholar-teachers.  Over her time here, she will have opportunities to take advantage of small classes, accessible professors, a rich selection of curricular opportunities such as our 360 ° programs (http://www.brynmawr.edu/360/) and innovative blended learning courses (http://nextgenlearning.blogs.brynmawr.edu/).  Beyond the classroom, she can apply what she learns to meaningful projects and research in the wider Philadelphia community through our signature Praxis program (http://www.brynmawr.edu/ceo/programs/praxis/), externships and internships. A major focus of the Dean’s Office is facilitating a vibrant and engaging undergraduate student experience, and I hope your daughter will benefit from our efforts to balance rigorous academics with leisure and fun in the residence halls, at campus events and in the great city of Philadelphia. 

I hope the enclosed information about move-in, Customs Week, and some college resources that will be helpful to you. If you haven’t already done so, please complete and submit the Student’s Guardian Information form so that in the future we may contact you in the manner you prefer: http://www.brynmawr.edu/gateways/parents/guardian_form.shtml

My colleagues and I hope that you and your daughter enjoy these last weeks of summer and that the transition to Bryn Mawr goes as smoothly as possible for all of you. We want to do everything we can to help make that possible.  Please call on us and encourage your daughter to do the same.

Sincerely yours,

Judy Balthazar

Dean of Studies and Interim Dean of the College

P.S.  Family Weekend 2014 is scheduled for October 24-26, 2014.  More information will follow and soon appear on the Parents’ and Family page at http://www.brynmawr.edu/gateways/parents/.

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Notes to Parents and Guardians of Students Entering in Fall 2014 - Bryn Mawr College

Arrival and Customs Week

Most members of the class of 2018 will be coming to campus on Wednesday, August 27th for the start of Customs Week, but some members of the class have been invited to move in earlier to participate in pre-season athletic team practices (Sunday, August 17th arrival); the Tri-College Identity, Equity and Social Justice Summer Institute (Tri-Co) (Wednesday, August 20th arrival); or for the International Students Orientation (ISO) (Monday, August 25th arrival).  All new students are officially welcomed on Wednesday, August 27th.  Arrival days and the Customs Week are designed to assist entering students as they embark on their college experience.

Customs Week involves new students in activities that help them get to know one another, the College community, its norms, and the many campus resources.  Parents and guardians are often concerned about getting students moved into their rooms and helping them make essential arrangements for living away from home.  The residence halls open at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, August 27th.  Keys are available beginning at 8 a.m. at Facilities Services in the Ward Building next to the Schwartz Gym.  New students and their families travel to Bryn Mawr from all over the world, so please do not encourage your student to take a “first come, first served” approach to choosing a bed space in a multiple occupancy room or suite.  Assignment of spaces within a room or suite is expected to be negotiated in a way that includes all the students involved.  While the majority of students arrive with their families, there are also many students whose families cannot be here on move-in day.  Please extend your help and courtesy to these new students so that everyone feels welcomed and supported! 

Parents and guardians often ask about remaining on campus during Customs Week. While we understand your concern about your first-year student making a successful early transition to Bryn Mawr, we ask that you not stay on or near campus through Customs Week.  We suggest that you make plans to leave campus just before dinner at 5:00 pm on the arrival day. 

If family members do remain in the area, they may not stay in the residence halls.  It is important for students to participate fully in the ISO and Customs Week orientation programs, so family visits should be planned around scheduled Customs events.  Customs Week assists any students prone to loneliness or homesickness by connecting them to their peers and the College community as a whole.  Students are introduced to classmates, advisers, faculty, and staff members. A brief description of Customs as well as a schedule for parents on arrival day is available at http://www.brynmawr.edu/enteringstudents/customs.html.

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Access Services for Students with Disabilities

Bryn Mawr College is committed to the full participation of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of campus life and welcomes students with disabilities to the College community.  The Access Services office in Guild Hall provides individualized support and reasonable accommodations for eligible students with learning, physical, or psychological disabilities.  If you think your student may need academic adjustments in the classroom or access in the dormitory or other campus facilities, please have your student contact Deborah Alder, Coordinator of Access Services (dalder@brynmawr.edu or 610-526-7351). For additional information -- including the eligibility criteria and documentation requirements -- please visit the Access Services website at http://www.brynmawr.edu/access_services/

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Drug and Alcohol Use

In the remaining weeks before students leave for Bryn Mawr, it is important for you all to be aware of a few of the challenges that some students may face during their first year of college.  In particular, students will need to be prepared to make informed decisions about using alcohol or drugs. Bryn Mawr does not have sororities, fraternities, or other kinds of social clubs that frequently provide alcohol at parties and other events.  This does not mean, unfortunately, that we are immune from the problems caused by students abusing alcohol and drugs.  We are proud of the efforts of our students, faculty, and staff to address the problems posed by alcohol and drug use on campus.  There is a strong campus consensus that emphasizes safety, responsibility, and care for fellow members of this community. 

The campus community is keenly aware that one person’s miscalculation or clouded judgment might lead to a tragedy for all of us.  So we focus on self-governance, clear norms about safe behavior and quick referral for assessment, education and treatment when necessary for anyone who misuses alcohol or drugs.

Parents and guardians play a vital role in reinforcing these values. We hope you will talk frankly with your first-year student about your expectations and concerns. Useful websites for parents of students leaving for college include: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/   and the section on Alcohol and the Law at   http://www.lcb.state.pa.us.  
The interaction of alcohol with prescribed and over the counter medication is summarized at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Medicine/medicine.htm.

Campus policies, expectations, and services related to alcohol and drug use are available for your review at the Student Activities website: http://www.brynmawr.edu/activities/partyinformation.shtml
and the Health Center website: http://www.brynmawr.edu/healthcenter/drugsandalcohol/index.htm.

This summer, new students will be expected to complete an on-line education program, Alcohol.edu, as part of the first-year Wellness program.  With a common knowledge–base in place about alcohol and its use and misuse, we will be better able to use the Customs Week and Wellness programs to help students prepare for some of the most difficult challenges involved in living safely and happily in a college community:  responsibility for one’s own behavior, responsibility to the community, confronting problems which arise, and using the supports and resources available.

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Health and Counseling Centers

We also urge you to encourage your first-year student to let the Medical Director of Student Health Services know if your student has any significant past or ongoing medical or psychological concerns.  The medical and counseling staffs are happy to work cooperatively with your student’s current treating professionals to provide continuity in your student’s care through the college years. Besides providing services on campus at the Health Center, they can refer students to off-campus specialists and mental health professionals if that seems more appropriate or comfortable for the student. All medical and counseling information is kept strictly confidential.  It does not compromise privacy to inform Bryn Mawr’s medical and counseling professionals of your first-year student’s history.

Talking about sleep and nutritional needs is also valuable.  College students tend to get far less sleep than they need.  This deficit impairs their cognitive capacities at the very time when they need them most.  Just as sleep deprivation is an issue at college, so, too, are body-image concerns.  We share full-time nutritionist Nicole Patience, MS, RD, LDN, CDE with Haverford College, and any student may meet with her.  The Body Image Council (http://bodyimagecouncil.blogs.brynmawr.edu/, https://www.facebook.com/bodyimagecouncil), a group for students concerned with body image and eating, meets weekly, led by a counselor with expertise in this area.  We have also begun a multidisciplinary Fitness Program (for Physical Education credit) designed for students who are obese.  Please encourage your first-year student to take advantage of these services if your student would benefit from them.

Health Center staff will join other campus resources on Monday, August 25th   at a session for parents and families during the International Students Orientation and on Wednesday, August 27th, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at an informal resource fair in the Campus Center main lounge.  Kay Kerr, MD, the Medical Director of Student Health Services, and Reggie Jones, MSS, LCSW, Director of Counseling Services, will be available for appointments to meet with you and your first-year student to discuss medical or counseling concerns. If you and your student would like to make an appointment, please email Ronda Taylor (rtaylor@brynmawr.edu) at the beginning of that week, indicating your availability on Wednesday or at other times during that week.  

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Contacting the Dean's Office with your Questions

Have questions?
 
Please do not hesitate to contact the Dean's Office. Deans and staff are available to assist you and your student every weekday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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