September e-Parent Newsletter
In this issue:
- New Parent Portal
- Hart Career Center Advice
- SophoMORE Week
- Family Weekend Reminder
- First Year Frequency
- The Illinois Wesleyan Parent Fund
We are off to a great start this fall, due in part to the opening of State Farm Hall and the Gates at Wesleyan, the remodeling of the Dugout, and the four-fold increase in internet bandwidth and extension of the wireless network to all parts of the campus (including the ever-popular concrete slab that covers the campus steam line and serves as an unofficial student lounge on cool winter days).
Although these facility improvements have been warmly received, the excitement and positive momentum is also tied to another set of significant events and activities. One of the attractive features of a University the size of Illinois Wesleyan is the opportunity to hear and interact with nationally prominent scholars and authors. In early September, Warren St. John, author of Outcasts United, was on campus to speak during the President’s Convocation. The opportunity to meet Mr. St. John was especially meaningful for first-year students who had read his book as part of the Summer Reading Program. This week, New York Times columnist and political commentator David Brooks will be on campus to deliver the 29th Stephenson Lecture.
Another feature of the University that I find especially compelling is the extent to which students engage the opportunities for personal growth outside the classroom. This past week I hosted a reception for more than 30 students who studied abroad last spring or summer. In conversations with students who attended the reception, I heard over and over again how studying abroad had helped them understand that they could make it on their own and had forever changed their perspective on important issues facing the United States and other countries in the world.
Closer to home, students participated in a Habitat for Humanity project this fall that broke ground for the collegiate chapter's 20th home in Bloomington-Normal. This commitment to serving others is also reflected in the work of students and faculty members, who received major funding for their work as part of the Action Research Center’s continuing efforts to help revitalize homes in west Bloomington.
And finally, a long tradition of successful Division III athletic teams is unfolding again this year at IWU: the men’s soccer team is 5-3-1; the women’s soccer team is 4-1-2; the women’s volleyball team is 9-6; and the football team is 2-0 and will play its first home game of the season during Family Weekend. I hope you will join us for this special weekend on Sept. 27-29 and become part of another tradition that comprises the Illinois Wesleyan experience.
Over the last year, IWU staff have been working on how best to maximize communication with parents on the things that matter most to you about your student. We hope this newsletter is helpful to you, but we know that you often want more specific information about your student’s academic success.
As you know, we empower our students to be adults and make adult decisions about every aspect of their University career. Additionally, the federal government requires that students who are over 18 are afforded confidentiality of student records (through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) which sometimes makes communication with parents difficult. Fortunately, smart use of technology will allow students to give you access to some of the information that you most frequently request through a new parent portal.
Please encourage your student to use his/her MyIWU account to give you access to viewing their grades, midterm grade reports, transcripts, and some financial aid information. This new Parent Portal allows students to give you electronic access to information, but it does not give University faculty or staff permission to disclose information verbally. We will continue to work with you and your student when direct personal contact is needed.
I will be sending all students an email about this new service so they will know how to set it up. If they are having difficulty establishing your access, please ask them to call the Help@Ames desk (309-556-3900).
We are so thrilled to welcome your student back to campus this fall and are ready for another great year of helping students match their IWU educational experiences and passions with internships, work experiences and graduate schools. As always, we need your help by encouraging your student to come see us – early and often.
- On our Career Service home page, you’ll find an electronic version of our "Steps to Success"
guide for career planning. It’s filled with resources that we hope both you and your student will find helpful.
- First-year students are visiting us to talk about majors or career options, especially those who are undecided or perhaps already thinking about moving in a different direction. Some of our first-year students are also getting started on plans for gaining practical experience through job shadows over the holiday break, volunteer experiences while they’re at IWU or involvement in student organizations.
- Sophomore and junior students are heading in to fine-tune their resumes, discuss internship options, and learn how to utilize our Titan CareerLink database. They are also discussing strategies for success at the upcoming internship fairs.
- Seniors are looking to make the most of their final year by developing a polished resume and gaining critical interview skills through our practice interview program. They are also talking to us about graduate or professional school applications, and how to make valuable networking connections by attending career events, establishing a LinkedIn profile, and participating in our campus recruiting program.
Encourage your students to take advantage of all the services provided by the Career Center and ask them to attend the upcoming IWU Internship Fair on Tuesday, Oct, 1, 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Memorial Center. Even first-year students will benefit from attending by simply getting a feel for what the internship fair is like. (Remember college search fairs? The more you attended, the easier it was. Same thing applies to job/internship search strategies.) This is the only time this year that 50-plus employers will be gathered on the IWU campus ready and willing to interact with IWU students about internships, volunteer positions and potential career opportunities. Employers participating represent a variety of industries including: Healthcare – Business – Social Service – Education – Sustainability – Law – Sports – Media – Insurance – Museums (Art, History, and Education).
Internships play an increasingly important role in the career success of our students. Regardless of your student’s major (or lack of a major!), year in school, or future goals, please suggest stopping by the IWU Internship Fair and visiting the Career Center – early and often!
Learn more about the Internship Fair and the Hart Career Center on our website: iwu.edu/ccenter
We are so excited to share information about SophoMORE Week 2013 – a week of celebrating IWU’s second-year students. As sophomores, second-year students are likely making important decisions that will direct the course of their IWU experiences, such as choosing, changing or adding a major, taking more courses in their field of study, determining a study abroad plan, and gaining a better understanding of one’s values and viewpoints. The week’s activities are designed to help provide information to help students on this journey, and also to help them find some stress relief.
More details of the week’s events follow. Please encourage your student to mark their calendar to participate in those that interest them.
Tuesday, Sept. 24, 4 p.m.
Hour of Power: Ace Your Interview
Welcome Center Auditorium
Interviews can make or break you. Can you give behavioral examples of your strengths? Do you know what questions to ask? This presentation will give you the knowledge and confidence you need to make every interview a great one.
Wednesday, Sept. 25
Get MORE Done Event
All parts take place in the Dugout
Resources and Supports Fair, 6:30 - 7:45 p.m., Nell Eckley Lounge
Browse among resources and supports essential to supporting Sophomores. Explore major selection and internship possibilities, consider study abroad options, discover involvement and leadership development possibilities, how you manage stress and time, and how you are finding meaning in your life.
The following brief sessions explore skills and knowledge essential to sophomores:
Plan now for grad school scholarships and fellowships, 7 - 7:30 p.m. –Titan Room – Prestigious and highly competitive graduate school scholarships and fellowships often have specific criteria that require early planning for eligibility. We encourage all sophomores who are considering graduate school to explore national fellowships early. Find examples of these fellowships.
“Know yourself – Know your type” MBTI workshop, 7 - 8 p.m. – Dugout Room 1850 – The MBTI is a nationally recognized personality style inventory that allows students to explore personal style. Self-awareness is critical to knowing strengths and opportunities when exploring leadership, work and even relationships.
Last chance for leadership? 7:30 - 8:00 p.m. –Titan Room – This session is designed to help students who may have not quite found their leadership niche on campus yet. Certainly, there is no “last chance,” but we want to encourage students to develop leadership skills through involvement.
Thursday, Sept. 26, 1 - 5 p.m.
Spa and Serve
Pamper yourself with a free massage, haircut, or mini-manicure at the Sophomore Spa. After you’re refreshed, learn about how you can pay it forward by volunteering your time to help others in the local community.
Thursday, Sept. 26, 4 p.m.
Graduate School Essentials
Welcome Center Auditorium
Applying to grad schools can be a part-time job. Learn how to find good programs, what tests to take and when, solicit good recommendation letters, and write descriptive, articulate, and strong personal statements
The end of September marks both the 6-week mark and the start of Family Weekend. Family Weekend is a time where you and your student can reconnect and enjoy several fun activities all over campus. Friday night has two big offerings. The first activity includes the International Clue Night, which is an interactive live-action murder mystery game. The event features characters from around the world, set in the beautiful 100-year-old Kemp Hall International House. Later in the evening you will be able to experience Magician Mat Franco at the Hansen Student Center. Mat Franco finds the real secret of magic not so much to do with his ability to trick or fool his audiences, but rather in creating a sense of fun, camaraderie, thought-provoking ideas, and relatable humor. Come out to the Hansen Student Center and be entertained by the artist Campus Activities Magazine named the 2013 Best Male Performer. (Check him out on YouTube)
On Saturday morning, families have the opportunity to attend the official welcome, a session about our newest sport, lacrosse, and what’s next for first-year students, along with enjoying picnic activities and a face painter. At 1 p.m., the Titans will take on Hope College at Tucci Stadium. The afternoon includes some built-in time to connect with your student and get off campus for dinner. The night ends with a performance from both students and the acapella group Kazual. Kazual blends R&B and Hip-Hop to create intoxicating sounds. Be prepared for Kazual to captivate and invigorate your rhythmic senses. Kazual has opened up for artists such as Destiny’s Child and Nelly and will be live at the Hansen Student Center. (Check them out on YouTube).
The First Year Frequency (FYF) is a continuing orientation program for parents of first-year students presented as a livecast radio show heard Wednesday nights from 6 - 7 p.m. on www.wesn.org The shows are also available through a free download from iTunes for those unable to listen to the broadcast. A Facebook page augments the weekly shows with pictures of student activities, additional information and resources about student life, and as a forum to ask questions or share insights from a parent’s perspective. To join the online FYF community, like us at: www.facebook.com/FirstYearFrequency
Here’s a look at upcoming shows and topics:
Student Support—Services and overview of the Dean of Students Office
Re-framing Rules of Engagement/Parent Contact
Parent Services—Parent Board and e-Parent
Student Development and Engagement
Student Identity Development/Opportunities to Explore and Celebrate Difference
Study Abroad Opportunities
First-Year Students and Career Services
Faith and Values
A Visit from the President
As director of the Wesleyan Fund for Annual Giving, I raise unrestricted funds that are applied to the area of greatest institutional need. And increasingly the greatest need is student need…financial aid and scholarships, specifically.
As an alumnus of IWU, I know firsthand the value of an Illinois Wesleyan degree—and the kind of transformative experience Illinois Wesleyan provides. I also have a keen understanding of the role supportive alumni, parents and friends played in making my experience what it was.
It’s that understanding that makes my work so rewarding, and never is it so rewarding as when I get to work with a Parent Fund donor to support a student in dire need. You see, the IWU Parent Fund financially supports students who have lost a breadwinning parent to death or permanent disability. These are students who, without this assistance, would have to leave Illinois Wesleyan for financial reasons—a blow that could negatively affect their whole life trajectory.
During an IWU football game in November of 1960, Charles W. Merritt, a father of one of the IWU players in the game, learned that the father of one of his son’s teammates had died suddenly not long before. In an act of generosity and compassion, Charles passed a paper bag around the stadium to collect money to help the family with college costs. So began the IWU Parent Fund. And while the process of supporting students in need has formalized somewhat (we no longer pass paper bags at football games), the spirit of community surrounding the fund remains the same. At its core, the Parent Fund is simply IWU families helping other IWU families.
Over the course of the last 50-plus years, the Parent Fund has helped more than 300 students stay in school and earn their degrees. Some of the students I’ve worked with have gone on to become doctors, teachers, dentists, engineers and journalists. They are forever grateful and are among the first to pay forward this generosity by becoming donors as graduates.
Students who lose a breadwinning parent face difficult questions they and their families weren’t anticipating having to answer. Often the student must decide if he or she can continue with their education—or if they even should. These are very personal decisions and can be affected by a number of factors, including the emotional and/or employment status of a surviving parent or the welfare of younger siblings at home. Many times, the student might feel compelled to leave school to help—and put their personal aspirations on hold. Parent Fund assistance that allows students to stay in school keeps dreams alive and reassures family members that in the midst of an incredibly difficult time, all is not lost.
I’ve been told by many Parent Fund recipients and their families that when they learned about the assistance they would receive to allow their student to stay in school, it solidified for them their choice to attend Illinois Wesleyan. Most recipients speak of IWU as their home away from home—and Parent Fund donors as a second family.
I love the Parent Fund’s ability to help these families in distress answer some of the most important questions they’ll ever have to face. And as someone who works every day to keep a great education accessible to bright and talented students, there is no greater reward than seeing this happen for students in such tragic circumstances.
Every Gift Matters
As you might expect, the average financial need of a student who loses a breadwinning parent to death or permanent disability exceeds that of the average IWU student. What’s more, we never know how many students in a given year will need these critical funds. Therefore, whether you’re in a position to make a small or large financial commitment, each and every dollar from each and every donor is welcomed and appreciated.
Illinois Wesleyan is a family, and families look out for one another. Some parents of current students give because they appreciate knowing the fund would be there in the event their students needed it. Others give because they want to see exceptional students realize their full potential. Perhaps you’ll give for yet another reason.
I ask that you learn more about the Parent Fund and look for additional communication about the fund and its recipients this year. Together we can transform lives.
If you ever have any questions about the Parent Fund, please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and I hope you and your student have a wonderful year!