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The Backpack
The Backpack: A news source for parents and families of NAU students
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Vol. 6 No. 3 | August 25, 2009
Dianna Van Sanford

Your Partner On Campus: Office of Parent and Family Services

by Dianna Van Sanford

Welcome to fall semester 2009 from the Office of Parent and Family Services! We are here to serve you and are only a phone call or e-mail away. We understand the value of partnering with you as we all reach the ultimate and shared goal of your son’s or daughter’s success. Research confirms that parental understanding of and appropriate involvement in a student’s undergraduate experience increases student persistence and success. Our Parent and Family Handbook may be a great place to start to find answers to your general questions or to give you a feel for which office manages your area of interest. We also host the Discount Partners program that encompasses discounts at hotels, restaurants, and other businesses to ease your pocket book as a parent or family member of a college student. If you are interested in some college swag you can purchase mom and dad t-shirts for $10 and benefit student scholarships.

You may have heard about our new Guardian Access program that allows student-designated individuals to view NAU student-related financial information. The Guardian Access Tutorial and log-in can be found on our webpage for your convenience.

Dianna Van Sanford signature

We know you have questions! So, give us a call at 928-523-6267 or drop us an e-mail. We are here to help you!


What’s an “RA” Again?

by Michael Butcher, Residence Life

Resident Assistants

Students living on campus have a Resident Assistant (RA) or two that live on their floor. Each RA serves as a resource, planner, and helper to your student in addition to communicating and enforcing residence hall policy. Typically in traditional halls, each RA works with about forty to fifty students.

This week RAs are planning activities to establish community within the hall and to get your student involved on campus. This past weekend residents had their first floor meeting with their RAs where they were introduced and got to know one another, discussed important hall information, and began to establish strategies for communicating with their roommates. They may also have met their Residence Hall Director (RHD) who manages the residence hall. If you touch base with your student later this week, consider asking how things are going with his/her roommate, or if your student has met some people on the floor. Consider asking open ended questions like, “tell me about your classes,” or “what do you and your roommates do for fun?” Know that the hall staff can help in many ways, so encourage your student to get to know his or her RA.


Health Tip: Adjustments to Starting College

by Melody J. Hicks, MC, LPC, Counseling Center

Starting college is a time of transition. For the student there are new environments, foods, schedules, freedoms, people, and demands. Some students have already had to go through many transitions in life and find adjusting to college to be no big deal. For others, going away to college is their first major transition and they may find it very unsettling for a while.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Contact may increase or decrease. Some students may want or need more contact with parents/family to feel “grounded” since they haven’t yet found that in their new environment. So don’t be surprised if students want to come home more often than planned, or text on their cell phones, write, or call more than expected. This will probably slow down over time.

    Other students will want more distance and try to figure things out without a lot of family/parental support. Distancing can also be a sign your son or daughter is in trouble or struggling. If you have any concerns even after talking with your student, come visit or call his/her Residence Hall Director.

  • Anxiety and fears may increase. Change is scary for most people and so it is not unusual for students to find they are more anxious or fearful than usual. This, of course, can mean that students don’t sleep or eat well or worry about things that seem trivial. Be reassuring with your student but also watchful. If the anxiety and fear increases or doesn’t diminish, then your student may be need to see someone at Fronske Health Center or the Counseling Center to help manage his/her anxiety.

  • Emotions can be all over the place. Depending on the student and how he/she copes with change, emotions can be like a roller coaster. One day the student may be joyful and feel great and the next day ready to quit college and return home. Don’t overreact to these emotions. Let your student ride the waves of ups and downs until it evens out a bit. Of course, if emotions don’t level out after awhile, then it would be best to have your student seek help at Fronske Health Center and/or the Counseling Center.

Most of all, trust yourself and your relationship with your student. Many parents know when their child is adjusting versus in trouble. The Counseling Center is here to provide support for students as they adapt and adjust, so don’t hesitate to encourage your student to contact us.


Event Highlights

Welcome Week 2009

• The campus is buzzing with student activity for the new semester! Welcome Week continues with a variety of activities including: the President's Welcome BBQ, the LEADS Center Welcome Reception, the Black and White Icebreaker Dance, the AfterHours Casino Night, ice-cream socials, a variety of activities hosted by area religious communities, and athletic events. Encourage your student to get involved!

• The free Opening Reception: Prelude to Open Studios will be held at Coconino Center for the Arts on August 29 from 6 PM to 9 PM. Meet the artists in the 12th Annual Art Exhibition at the reception with live music and good food.

• Northern Arizona University’s Theater Department is looking for children age 8-12 to audition for the winter production of “A Christmas Carol.” Auditions will be held August 26 and 27 from 5 to 6:30 PM in the NAU Studio Theater. Children should plan on telling their favorite story and singing their favorite Christmas or holiday song without accompaniment. Three girls and five boys will be chosen for the production. “A Christmas Carol” will be staged November 20 through December 6, 2009. Rehearsals begin October 12. For more information, contact the Theater Department at 523-3781.


More events can be found at the Flagstaff Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

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