SPEAKER 1: The Office of New Student Programs welcomes you to the Cornell family orientation video information series. We've created this video series to provide information and connect you to the services, programming, and support available to Cornell students. In each installment, we will introduce you to the Cornell University staff and administrators who work closely with students.
You will also hear student voices that will give you a closer look at the Cornell student experience. At the conclusion of each video, you will find contact information so that you can follow up as needed. You are also welcome to reach out to the staff in New Student Programs.
Starting college represents an important step in your student's journey toward independence and adulthood. In this video about being a Cornell parent, you will meet professionals from across the university who will share information and advice to help you adapt to your new role as the parent of a college student, as well as ways that parents can be part of the Cornell family.
VIJAY PENDAKUR: Hi, my name is Vijay Pendakur. And I'm the Dean of Students at Cornell. I'm so grateful for the chance to speak with you during this family video series. Sending your child off to college can be a really stressful time for the entire family. Successfully navigating this important life moment requires thinking ahead about the changing nature of your relationship with your child as they become a Cornell student.
Frequently when I speak with parents about this experience, they have questions about how often they should expect communication from their child during the semester, or how to talk about challenging experiences in the collegiate journey, or what to do if your child is struggling with something important. Over the next few minutes, I'm going to offer some thoughts on these central questions with the goal of introducing you to the idea of being a Cornell parent and hopefully providing you some peace of mind.
Communication can be one of the most wonderful and challenging parts of the college transition. In my nearly 20 years of experience as a higher education administrator, I've seen some families experience a renaissance of communication with their child after sending them off to college. Something about the distance actually produces a better platform for proactive sharing and listening, but it doesn't always happen.
So there's a chance that your child might not want to communicate with you as often as you want. This is actually quite normal. And it can be worrisome for parents and other family members back home. I have two pieces of advice for you. First, ask your child what platform they enjoy communicating with you. Some families have had this conversation and realized that their frequent texting was just annoying or tiresome for the student. But an occasional Snapchat video or simply a smartphone video would be welcome and quite fun.
Secondly, if your child is avoiding the frequency of interaction that you desire, attempt to reach a compromise by offering a scheduled once a week phone or video call at a specific time every week. Sunday nights often work well for this kind of thing. The bottom line is finding the right balance between total autonomy and healthy communication is more of an art than a science. Please be patient with your Cornell student through this process and know that you'll reach a healthy balance soon.
As the dean of students, I also frequently talk with parents and family members of our incoming students about the reality that their struggle is a healthy part of the collegiate journey. Family members can worry quite a bit about what will happen if their child fails at something while at Cornell, maybe it's doing poorly in a class or on a test, or not getting into a selective club or a Greek organization.
Here's the great news, failure is certain and inevitable. Wait, did I just say great news? I'm not being cheeky here. I'm actually referencing the vast empirical research literature on the critical role of failure, challenge, and struggle in positive growth. You're sending your child to Cornell to get a world class education and to emerge from college ready for adult life, right?
Well, struggle and failure are the ultimate catalysts for reflection, change, and growth. Cornell is a fun, loving, challenging, and rigorous environment that will offer your children plenty of these opportunities for critical growth. So when you see your child is struggling with something, please try and strike a balance between the parental instincts to love and protect and the reality that independence and adulthood are forged in the grist of struggle.
Having great communication with your child is really important. It'll help you know when they're struggling. And that's the perfect time for you to step in and ask open-ended questions such as, how do you feel about getting rejected from that organization or failing that prelim? What resources can you use to help you build a better plan? Or do you have someone that you trust on campus that you can talk about with this issue?
These open-ended prompts keep your child at the center of their own solution and empower them to develop the building blocks of adulthood. We are so thrilled that you've chosen Cornell as the institution for your family. This is going to be a transformational journey for your child, for you, and for all of us Cornell faculty and staff that have the privilege to interact with you and your family.
Thank you again. And I'd like to turn it over to my fabulous colleague Shakima Clency for the next section.
SHAKIMA CLENCY: Hello, my name is Shakima Clency. And I serve as the Peggy J Koenig Class of '78 Associate Dean of Students for Student Empowerment and Director of First-Generation and Low-Income Student Support. I use the pronoun she, her, and hers. And I am excited to welcome you to the Cornell community.
This year, roughly 15% of us students in the class of 2024 self-identify as first-generation college students. At Cornell, we define first gen as students who come from families in which neither parent or guardian obtained a four year bachelor's degree.
Regardless if your student identifies as first-gen or not, you can expect that your student will experience excitement and many accomplishments throughout their time at Cornell but also experience moments of self-doubt and uncertainty as they face new challenges inside and outside the classroom, explore various aspects of their identities, become more independent and learn more about themselves and others. Consider this all a natural part of emerging adulthood.
To support your student on this journey, we encourage them to identify and utilize campus resources, get involved with a student organization, and seize opportunities to gain new skills and explore their academic interests. As they continue to explore and experience all that Cornell has to offer, know that they may not promptly respond to your text or return your phone call or maybe just be calling to ask for money to cover unexpected expense.
But continue to check in, maybe more or less frequently depending on the student, provide encouragement, refer them to our many campus resources available, and also know that their role and responsibility to the family may shift as they adjust to the demands of college life. We recognize that attending college is a significant investment. And we are honored to support your student on this journey.
BONNIE COMELLA: I'm Bonnie Comella, Assistant Dean and Director Advising in the College of Arts and Sciences. On behalf of my student services colleagues across the university, welcome to the Cornell family. We look forward to guiding your students through their Cornell journey.
As part of this family orientation series, I'll talk with you today about the role of student services at Cornell, discuss some of the academic differences between high school and college, and share some useful tips for supporting your new Cornell student. Student services is comprised of several functional areas, academic advising, career development, diversity and inclusion programs, and registrar services.
Your student has already heard from and likely interacted with their college student services office over the summer through email, Zoom meetings, web chats, social networking, and onboarding platforms. Each college has a team of student services professionals in these areas that's ready to support your student in their transition to college and also to facilitate their success at Cornell all the way through graduation.
Our collective role is to promote student growth and development, so students are able to reach their personal, academic, and career goals. We also have collaborative relationships with many colleagues and offices across the campus, such as the Dean of Students Office, The Learning Strategy Center, and Cornell Health to provide our students with the encouragement they need to thrive at Cornell.
Going to college is a big step in your student's journey towards adulthood. And with that, they're expected to take on more responsibility. So I'll briefly review how college academics will feel different from high school. For the student, they'll need to take much more initiative in developing a structure and daily routine that works for them, as well as take academic responsibility with things such as keeping track of their own academic progress in classes and carefully reviewing the syllabi for each of their courses.
Time management and attention management is key. They'll need to set priorities and focus on their work, not waste excessive time on social media and Netflix. And they'll learn new study skills that will make them successful with college level work. The structure of courses is different in college, too. Courses will vary in size. And some can be quite large compared to high school.
The pace is swift. And the volume of work can feel robust. Students will learn new vocabulary terms such as prelims, which are tests at Cornell, or problem sets, which is homework, and Canvas, which is our learning management tool which faculty use to track student progress through the semester, post quizzes, and communicate to the class.
The class schedule is different too. Students won't have the same classes every day. And they'll feel like they have more open time. But that time should be spent reviewing their notes, prepping for lecture, doing homework, writing papers, basically consistently keeping up with their work.
And rather than a guidance counselor, students work with a range of faculty advisors and mentors, and teaching assistants and professional advisors, too. We will promote help-seeking behavior. Asking for help shows maturity and strength not weakness. Many new students don't know how to ask for help, because they didn't have to in high school.
But we know that the most successful students at Cornell are proactive in asking for help by regularly attending faculty office hours, course review sessions, and academic tutoring opportunities. We also help students build a manageable meaningful course load with hundreds of courses to choose among.
Regarding communication with family, students have privacy around their academics under FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which you'll learn about more shortly. For example, parents and guardians will not have access to grades at the end of the semester. And if academic issues arise, we communicate directly to and only with the student.
That's not to say we don't want to communicate with you. If you have questions, please feel free to contact your student's college student services office. I'd like to share some tips that you'll find useful in supporting your student in their transition to Cornell. First, give them time and space to adjust to their new environment, ask them how they want to stay in touch so that it's clear from the start.
Remember if there's periods of quiet, no news is typically good news. They're making friends and studying hard, and that takes time. And it's actually what you want for them. Be a better listener, listen more and talk less as a parent or family member. Don't try to solve their problems or intervene, unless they specifically ask you to help. Support them without judging and encourage them like a good coach would.
Help us normalize help-seeking behavior by encouraging your student to get help from their faculty, TAs, and advisors throughout the semester. Allow them to change their mind about their academic path. They need to hear this from you that it's OK to do so. They're in college to explore and learn new things about themselves and the world. And that sometimes means they decide to change their major or even their Cornell college.
And finally, I want to congratulate you. Parenting is hard work. You've raised a young adult who's now becoming a Cornellian. Through your care and encouragement and a ton of patience, they're now stepping into their future. As a fellow Cornell parent of two undergraduates, I can empathize with you. It's an emotional and exciting time and, in the midst of COVID, a bit more unsettling than normal. But do know that your student's ready for Cornell. And now, you get to watch them grow and emerge as an amazing adult.
ELIZABETH SHEDD: Hello, everyone. My name is Elizabeth Shedd, Senior Immigration Advisor at the Office of Global Learning. Our staff helps international students, scholars, and their families navigate the US immigration system while they're here. We help with travel concerns, preparing for Visa stamp applications, and in ensuring that internationals stay in legal status while they're here.
Now your student might have gotten help from us even before they got on a plane to Ithaca. But once they arrive, we will help get to know them through orientation programs like Prepare. We'll help them get their best start at Cornell with workshops and discussions on the American academic system, on-campus resources for language support, health, and safety, and how to navigate life in Ithaca and the US.
We'll talk about how to interact with teaching assistants, what to do during office hours, and what a professor might like to see in the classroom discussions. We hope that your students feel more like Cornellians every day. But some things will be unique to internationals. That's why we have walk-in advising every business day and are available by phone and email.
If your student wants to have an internship in the summer, we have work authorization workshops throughout the semester. And twice a year, we host a large session on Visas after graduation. We also host talks on two less popular topics, taxes and driving in winter. With the right amount of preparation, neither subject is particularly painful.
We also host the Thanksgiving feast, where 800 Cornellians will celebrate one of the most popular and one of the most caloric celebrations in the United States. Throughout your student's time at Cornell, the most important concept for them will be what we call maintaining status. That means they're always following a few straightforward rules for F1 and J1 students that we'll tell them about when they arrive.
A few examples of what it means to stay in status, activating their immigration record when they arrive in Ithaca, always enrolling full time, and never working off campus. As a parent, you can encourage your student to contact us if they have questions. We're here to help make their goals possible.
And finally, we hope that once your student graduates, they feel like not just Cornellians but Ithacans. We want them to enjoy the natural beauty of upstate New York, visit our state parks, attend a festival, or see an off campus play. So that when they graduate, they can say that they truly felt like they got as much from their years here as they could. Thank you all for listening. And if you have any questions on our services, please connect with us.
RHONDA KITCH: Hi, my name is Rhonda Kitch. And I am Cornell's University Registrar. On behalf of the Office of the University Registrar, we are excited to welcome you to the upcoming academic year. I'd like to share a little bit about what services the Office of the University Registrar offers, how we're a bit different than a college registrar office, share a brief overview of FERPA, and talk a bit about student role and responsibility.
The Office of the University Registrar at Cornell serves as the official custodian of student academic records. We work with and distribute official transcripts. We provide enrollment verifications and degree certifications to individuals needing those services. And we produce the diplomas. So that's an exciting piece you can look forward to in a few years.
We also coordinate course enrollment and registration. We manage the student information system. We distribute ID cards to students. And if you're receiving veteran's educational benefits, we ensure certification and compliance of those important benefits.
As I mentioned, we are a bit different than a college registrar office. If you have specific information and questions related to your academic curricular requirements, as well as the academic policies related to your degree progress, you'll want to get in touch with your college registrar office. They will be best able to serve and assist you with your questions. I've included a URL link that will show you all of the college registrar office points, and you'll be able to connect with them directly.
I mentioned that official transcript a few slides ago. I want you to think about, why is a transcript so important? Well, it is an official university document. And it's permanent. It will never be destroyed. It is also an important document that you may need later for admission to graduate and professional schools. And in addition to that, FERPA applies to your official transcripts.
Now I'd like to share a little bit about FERPA. FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This important legislation was designed to and still protects student records. FERPA protects students from kindergarten all the way through post-secondary education.
However, when students become enrolled in a college or university setting, the student is now the one that determines who has access to their academic record. It's no longer a parent or guardian. FERPA also designates directory and non-directory data elements. Directory data elements typically are considered those that are not particularly harmful if they were to be released to a third party.
I've given some examples on the screen, including student name, their academic level, their dates of attendance, and enrollment status, and, ultimately, what degree and-- what degree and what date the degree was awarded. These data elements can be very important when we are producing enrollments and degree verifications. So again, not particularly harmful if it were to be released.
Non-directory student information is considered private information and would not be information that we would release without the consent of the student. For example, a grade in an individual course, a cumulative GPA, or total credits earned would be considered non-directory information and, again, information our office would not release without the student's consent. You can learn more about FERPA at the link on the screen.
It's important to note that the student is the key contact for Cornell. If we have questions for the student, we're going to be reaching out most likely via their Cornell email address. It is a primary communication source. Students, you'll want to watch your information about pre-enrollment, registration, financial aid, degree progress, and much more through that email address.
We'll also relay important information regarding important dates and deadlines. Again, on behalf of the Office of the University Registrar, we look forward to the upcoming academic year. If I or our office can be of any assistance, please reach out. We're here to help.
MICHELLE VAETH: Hi, everyone. My name is Michelle Vaeth. I'm from the Class of '98. And I have the distinct pleasure of serving as your Associate Vice President for Alumni Affairs at Cornell. Welcome to all of you, to being part of the Cornell family. Not only is your student a part of the family, so are you. And we're so happy to have you.
Today I'll just spend a few minutes sharing why the Cornell community is so special. And I'll share some of the ways that you can stay connected with the university during your student's time on campus and beyond. So the beginning of college is an incredible, energizing, overwhelming time. And I can still remember my new student orientation in the fall of 1994 in Ithaca.
It was a whirlwind experience. I was meeting so many new people. And I even, as you can see in the black and white photo on the screen, had the distinct pleasure of meeting President Emeritus Frank HT Rhodes on the second day that I was on campus. I'm deeply indebted to whoever the photographer was that caught this moment so that I can remember it forever.
I also met some of my very best friends, who are still my best friends today, during that time and even more as I went further into my freshman and sophomore year. I can hardly believe that life brought me back to Cornell in 2018 to work for Cornell after a career elsewhere out in the corporate world. And I am-- I still have those moments of, pinch me, I cannot believe I get paid to be here and to serve in Cornell Alumni Affairs.
This will be an adjustment for you, as it's an adjustment for your student. But we hope that Cornell can be a place where you also find community. I know things look different this year. But we're all still so committed to helping you and your student adjust to life at Cornell. In addition to faculty, staff, students, and families, we also have an alumni network of over 250,000 Cornellians around the world that we can call in when you need them.
And we also have alumni who celebrate up to their 80th, and we're hoping at some point their 85th reunion. So we'll always be here for them and for you. We hope you get lots of great updates from your student. But there are also ways that you can stay connected to Cornell, no matter how often your student picks up the phone.
You'll be getting news from Cornell. And you can also find great information online. We have the Ezra Magazine. There is The Cornell Daily Sun if you want a student perspective on campus and many other newsletters that will be coming to you from different administrations and divisions within Cornell.
You are also all welcome to join one of our regional clubs to connect with Cornell alumni and families closer to home. With over 100 clubs around the world, many of you can hopefully find that Cornell community right where you live. Families are also invited to join our online knowledge sharing platform, which is called C-U-E Links. You can volunteer here to give career support and advice to current students.
And we hope to have you back on campus to share in events and traditions in person when we can safely gather. So thank you for your time today. Welcome to the Cornell family and go big red.
BRANDON AXELROD: I would say it's just be entirely understanding that college is a stressful time in everyone's life. And the students sometimes may just need time to vent. Personally for me, I look to my parents as not only inspiration but also people that I know that I can-- they can be my support system. They can be a listening ear for me.
There are times when I am up to 1 o'clock studying. There are times when I'm going to be overwhelmed because I have an exam. But the fact that I know that my parents are there just to listen is really helpful for me. And for me, things like sending pictures of my dog or a funny video, these are things that like I will chuckle at for a minute and then be able to go back to my work.
And it definitely makes me feel a lot better. But definitely, venting is therapeutic. And expect that your student will take you up on that from time to time.
THOMAS PETLUCK: From personal experience, kind of going back to the previous question of when I kind of hit that wall, like I think that was definitely like a moment when I started to realize like, you know, like I miss my parents. And I kind of like need my parents to like help me kind of with this transition.
Like I think one thing on both the student end and the parent end is just like I think at home, like we're just like we can't wait to go. We can't wait to go to college. And then like once we get there, it's like, oh, like we kind of miss our parents a lot. So when it comes to I guess help, I kind of think like for-- I don't know.
Personally, I remember talking to my mom. And she was like, you know, reassuring me that, you know, I'm here for a reason. I'm going to flourish and by those means. And I think kind of like that reassurance, kind of like, you know, kind of just like driving home the point that, you know, you're at Cornell. You're going to do great. I think that kind of energy, the positive energy, is like really kind of is like-- kind of was going to like drive you. It certainly drove me.
ABIGAIL PIO: I feel like parents and families can be helpful to their students when finding a place at Cornell by being patient and encouraging. So your student will most likely change major, minor, or career aspirations throughout their four years. And I just [? would ?] advise you to be patient and supportive and ask them questions. Maybe you want to ask them why or what's so interesting.
Just be kind to them and realize that they're taking a lot of classes, talking to a lot of different people, and exploring. And when you explore, you find different possibilities, different opportunities. So be understanding and supportive.
MELISSA LOUIE: I think parents and families can be helpful to their student while their student is finding their place at Cornell by just being there and being supportive. So if their child is homesick or anything like that, just being there to talk but definitely not being overbearing or trying to track their student through the day or like look at their grades all the time. Because that's really, really stressful.
And I think it's really good to help them figure that out on their own. So just be there if they need it.
MORIAH ADEGHE: So I think that parents and families can be really helpful for students in helping them find their place at Cornell. And I think that one way that they can do that is definitely by supporting and encouraging their students to get involved and try out new things. Cornell can be a really scary place. It's much bigger than many of the-- than probably any high school that any of us have went to.
And so I think that having parents and families encouraging their students to get involved and try new things, even though it might be scary and daunting, is really important. I know I had a lot of support from my family encouraging me to go out for different orgs, even though I thought it might be like a competitive process. Or it might be difficult to get involved.
And I think that that-- knowing that my family was supporting me in trying new things was definitely helpful for me getting involved. Because it helped me to get involved in things that I might have not done otherwise.
ALICIA TAN: What I thought was the most helpful from my parents when I was first entering Cornell was their ability to let me out on my own and make my own decisions. I know my mother wanted to call me every single day and talk like about everything. But she really allowed me to settle in and make friends and go on my own adventures.
And they also-- I really appreciated having them allow me to make mistakes. Because I was so used to my mother always being like clean your room. Oh, do your laundry. And like, get on your homework. And so without having that, I had to now hold myself accountable for a lot of the things I did.
And because of not-- because of them allowing me to make my mistakes, it did end up in a few all-nighters. But I learned from them and I don't do them as much anymore.
ROHAN DESAI: So as far as my personal experience, definitely trying to be there for your student when they might feel lonely in the initial phases of transitioning to college is definitely very helpful, you know, as this will happen a little bit in the first few weeks.
But also trying to be conscious of how frequently you are interacting and how much time they may be spending on the phone, instead of, you know, trying to meet new people and attend events around campus is very important, as you definitely want there to be a bit of a balance as far as your communication. But at the same time, you don't want that communication to take away from the student's transition at school.
HUNTER KANE: I think that parents and families can be most helpful to their students in finding their place at Cornell by being available to them whenever the student wants to FaceTime and talk about their experience at Cornell but also about what's going on back home. So they don't feel like they're missing out on anything.
SPEAKER 1: Thank you for watching this installment of the Family Orientation Video Information Series. We hope that you will join us for the other sessions in the series which are listed here.
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The Office of New Student Programs created this six-part video series to educate and connect you to the services, programming, and support available to Cornell students. Each video is approximately 40 minutes long. In this video, you will learn the many ways students get involved, make friends, and find community at Cornell through co-curricular opportunities. You will also hear from students about how they found their place at Cornell.