Advice for Parents and Family Members
The Most Frequently Asked Questions about Residence Hall Living
Most importantly, how can you help your son or daughter succeed?
Students may call home and talk about difficulties living away from home and attending college level classes. You can help in many ways that will empower your student to take appropriate action.
Encourage your student to take ownership of their entire collegiate experience. Preparing students to succeed academically and personally, a college education is a tremendous opportunity. We strongly encourage students to explore their own academic interests, while simultaneously acquiring skills (e.g. critical thinking, problem solving, analytical skills, oral and written communication skills, etc.) that will ensure success after graduation. Family members can help by asking students what they are learning, why they enjoy what they are learning, and what skills they are developing. This may also assist them in developing plans for their major without asking the dreaded freshman question, "So, what’s your major?"
Many first-year students will experience some homesickness. This is understandable given the transition that students face at the university. Family members can help by staying in regular contact with their students, but it is also important for students to develop social ties on campus too. If your student has questions or concerns, you might encourage him or her to speak with a Resident Assistant (RA) or Multicultural Advisor (MA). Attending social events, introducing themselves to neighbors or classmates, or writing e-mails to old friends or siblings also helps students lessen their homesickness. It is important that family members reassure students that homesickness is fairly typical and will usually diminish as the semester progresses. Remember that communication during this difficult time is very important (for both of you).
Encourage your son or daughter to take advantage of the many resources that the university has to offer; particularly the student services staff in each Student Success Center.
Discuss with them the merits of being organized and encourage them to manage their time efficiently.
Encourage them to attend every class every week.
Remind your student to eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough rest.
Encourage your student to stay on campus most weekends. Leaving town prevents new relationships from forming on campus.
Students may call home and talk about roommate difficulties. Sometimes the difficulties arise because the residence hall communities are made up of many people living in close proximity, many of whom come from significantly different backgrounds. No student should have to cope indefinitely with problem behaviors. Urge your student to come up with and pursue their own solutions. Usually the quickest and most efficient way of solving roommate difficulties is for students to contact their Resident Assistant (RA). If further assistance is needed your student should speak with the Residence Hall Director.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law designed to protect the privacy of student’s education records. That means if your son or daughter is 18 years or older, university officials are not allowed to share information concerning their time on campus, unless we believe your son or daughter has a health or safety emergency.
The pace at the university will be different and less structured than in high school. Family members can help by encouraging their student to utilize his or her instructors’ office hours and ask questions in class-this can be particularly intimidating for some during the first couple of semesters on campus. However, taking the initiative to use faculty office hours to discuss course material and effective time management are two of the most important things students can do during their first month in college.
When will my son or daughter receive their housing assignment?
New students apply online after they have been admitted to CMU and paid their orientation fee. Each student will receive a Community Living Guide which will provide them information and access to the online application system. In mid-May students will be able to begin choosing their own residence hall and room on line, as well as choose their roommate(s) if they have someone in mind.
When will my son or daughter find out who their roommates are?
- In mid-August just before students begin arriving on campus, an email will be sent to each housing applicant. The letter will include the actual room assignment as well as the names and phone numbers (if available) of all roommates. So many changes take place during the summer months that we wait until August to send this letter so the information is as accurate as possible.
When do the residence halls open for the fall semester?
- The residence halls officially open on Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 9 am.
- Students taking part in Leadership Safari may move into their residence hall on Saturday, August 17 at 9 am.
- Students, who choose to move in early to their residence hall, not taking part in Leadership Safari, will be charged an early move in fee.
When do the residence halls close during the academic year? There are three break periods for the 2013-2014 academic year:
- Thanksgiving Break: residence halls close at 7 pm Wednesday, November 27 and reopen Sunday, December 1 at noon.
- Winter Break: residence halls close at 6 pm Saturday, December 14 and reopen Sunday, January 12 at 9 am.
- Spring Break: residence halls close at noon Saturday, March 8 and reopen Sunday, March 16 at noon.
- Saxe-Herrig and Celani Halls are the only residence halls on campus open during these break periods.
- During break periods students do not need to remove belongings from their rooms, unless they have valuables they want to take with them.
Are students required to have their own computer?
At this time students do not have to have their own computer, although many do. It is up to each individual whether they have a laptop or a personal computer. All residence hall rooms have a computer port for each resident and are directly connected to the university’s high speed Ethernet network. The computer will need to be equipped with an Ethernet adapter card and cord. If you do not have this equipment, it may be purchased when students arrive on campus. Student technicians will be able to help students hook up their computer at no charge shortly after they move into their residence hall. Specific information will be available for all students as they move into their hall.
- Computer Labs or Centers are also available in each residence hall, as well as in other locations on campus, for students who do not have their own computer or printer.
What should my son or daughter plan to bring to campus?
- The basics should include towels, pillow, bedding, laundry items, hangers, alarm clock, personal toiletries, umbrella, stackable crates, first-aid items, school supplies, health card, and a checkbook or money card.
- The majority of our students return home for Labor Day weekend so they do not have to bring everything they own when they first arrive on campus. If they forget something, they can normally pick it up then. They should check with their roommates before they arrive on campus so there are not four televisions, four stereos, etc. in each room.
- There is no extra storage space available in residence halls so students should limit what they bring.
I understand the mattresses are an unusual size, where may I purchase sheets that will fit properly?
- The single mattresses are considered ‘extra long’ and measure 36" x 80". They may be purchased at almost any department or discount store. In addition, student leaders in Residence Hall Assembly work with a company that will offer you proper fitting sheets that can be mailed to you during the summer. You should receive a letter directly from this company.
May students construct lofts (free standing bunk bed systems) in their rooms?
With the exception of Campbell, Celani, Fabiano, Kesseler, Kulhavi, and Robinson Halls who are already provided with furniture that may be lofted, all other residence hall students may construct a loft in their room by following our loft guideline policy which is included in our Community Living Guide as well as on this website. On occasion, local lumber companies may offer loft building packages but they must still follow our loft guidelines.
Often students will wait until they arrive on campus, take a look at the room, and chat with their roommates, about whether they want to loft their beds or not.
What can you tell me about alcohol and drugs on campus?
We would love to say there are no alcohol or drug problems on campus, but as in any community this large, we are faced with disturbances from people who break the law. When an alcohol or drug situation is suspected, Residence Life staff and/or officers from the CMU Police Department will address the students believed to be involved. After Residence Hall Directors discuss the situation with the student, anyone believed to be in violation of our policies will be sent to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities for possible sanctions, as well as a large monetary fine.
Speaking of safety, how safe are the residence halls?
We are fortunate that both Mt. Pleasant and the CMU community are relatively safe areas. Residents, however, are still encouraged to take an active role in residence hall security. By escorting all guests, reporting unescorted people they do not recognize as residents to residence hall staff, and especially always locking their residence hall room doors, students keep the residence hall environment safe.
The Office of Residence Life provides additional desk worker coverage for evening hours. Residence Life staff and student desk personnel monitor the residence halls each night. After outside doors are locked each evening, desk staff personnel respond to emergency situations, inform residence hall staff of situations requiring attention, and monitor access to the buildings.
May my student bring his/her car to campus?
Who is responsible for my student’s property?
Is cooking allowed in the room? What about refrigerators and microwaves?
Do you require residence hall students to be vaccinated with the meningococcal meningitis vaccine?
What are residential colleges?
A residential college is a living/learning community where a residence hall floor is reserved for serious students who not only share a living space but also a true community feeling, complete with classroom and study areas.
Each community has a character all its own, with specially designed programs and opportunities. There are currently five residential colleges: Health Professions, Science and Technology, Music, Business, and Education and Human Services.
If my son or daughter wants to change their dining plan membership (food plan) how do they do that?
- To make a change free of charge they should contact the Office of Residence Life PRIOR to the first day of classes. Once classes begin, dining plan membership changes may be made through the Campus Card Office for a $15 fee. Dining plan membership changes are accepted the first month of each semester for the current semester.
What should be my response if my son or daughter complains that there is nothing to do on campus?
- Resident Assistants and Multicultural Advisors work extremely hard to build a strong, involved community on their floor and in their hall by planning activities and acting as a resource for campus and area happenings.
- Ask your son or daughter if he or she has attended any CMU athletic events. Not just the major sports, but also gymnastics, wrestling or any of our other Division 1 team events.
- If they enjoy taking part in athletic activities, encourage them to join an intramural team through Campus Recreation. Each hall has an IM director who they can contact for information.
- There are over 250 registered student organizations on campus. Surely, one will be of interest to your son or daughter.
How would my son or daughter obtain a job at a residence hall desk or residential restaurant?
- New CMU students should ask at their residence hall front desk during check-in to see if any desk positions are available. They can also check back during the academic year to see if any become available.
- Campus Dining will be holding job fairs again this year in conjunction with the summer orientation sessions. If students are not able to come at that time, they are always welcome to visit any of the residential restaurants to seek employment. Students should then ask to speak to a director who will have them fill out an application form and will show them any current openings. Students can then sign up for shifts that fit around their class schedule. Prior to seeking a position, students should obtain an Authorization Card from the Student Employment office and have their semester class schedule complete. Student Employment is located in the University Center and is open from 8am until 5pm, Monday through Friday. Students will need to bring their social security card and a picture ID. Directors will ask for the Authorization Card prior to letting students sign up for shifts.
And a bit more advice for your son or daughter...
Every year, several thousand freshmen show up on the Central Michigan University campus, eager to start their college educations. By the end of fall semester, a good number of them will have gone home, and by the time their sophomore years end, many more will have headed back to Hamtramck or Hudsonville or wherever home is.
Personal and financial difficulties lead some students to leave school, but academic difficulty is a primary reason students leave the university. Leaving school, simply having that word "attended" CMU instead of "graduated from" CMU on a resume, ends up costing people money, time and self-respect.
From what I've seen, academic failure is mostly self-induced. Here are 10 things to do to make sure there's a diploma at the end of the line, not just student-loan payments.
1. Show up for class: It sounds simple, but it's amazing how class attendance drifts down over the course of a semester. Students who don't show up don't get the material, often fail to understand the subtleties of how to apply it, and end up screwing up.
Why do students blow off classes? I suspect it's because they can. Only a minority of professors waste precious class time taking roll. Many instructors put class notes and assignments on the Internet, and most classes use textbooks.
So why even bother going to class? The notes from the lecture never tell the whole story. The activities, lab work and discussion always help clarify things. Not showing up means a student will miss that penetrating question which makes a muddy lecture crystal clear.
2. Limit alcohol: Partying might be fun, but just try to write a coherent sentence with a hangover. Enough said.
3. Limit video games: Men, in particular, seem to spend hours playing Madden Football or Halo, inhaling junk food and staying up late. This limits the amount of time available to study, robs them of energy and leads to sleep-deprivation. This leads to stupidity.
4. Make use of your professors' office hours. These are scheduled times when your instructors are supposed to be available to meet with students, answer questions, sometimes just shoot the breeze. Profs are, by definition, experts, and most of them love to expound on the fields they love. You'll learn things - and, perhaps more importantly, your professors will remember who you are.
5. Take good notes: The person with a so-called "photographic memory" is the stuff of spy novels and fiction. The people who succeed take extensive notes and review those notes. I've had numerous students assure me that "Oh, yeah, I can remember," but I've never had one of them do well.
6. Learn to study: Many of the brightest students in high school (note I said "brightest," not "best") figure out quickly that they can get acceptable grades in high school without a great deal of effort. That doesn't really work in college.
7. Get involved: There's an unfortunate vibe in many Michigan communities that discourages people from volunteering, and sneers at people who do. This is unfortunate and extremely self-defeating. Volunteer for something, whether it's a church, a political group, a residence hall organization, or whatever. And put it on your resume.
8. Get internships: As much as your classroom work matters, so does real world experience. The more experience, the more contacts you have in your industry, the better. Who do you think might have a better chance of landing, say, a job in the news media - the person who can say, "I helped to cover Capitol Hill one summer for Congressional Quarterly," or the person who can say, "I, uh, went to a school board meeting one time for class."
9. Network: The old saw of "It isn't what you know, it's who you know" isn't exactly right. In today's world, you have to know your stuff, and you have to know people. Make contacts in your industry and among your peers. Relationships that begin in college pay a lifetime of dividends.
10. Reinvent yourself: You're away from home, and you have a chance to become the person you want to be. No one here knows about the embarrassing accident you had during the second-grade holiday show, and you don't have to tell anyone. You don't have to be trapped in the pigeonhole your hometown high school put you in. Explore. Learn. Grow. Change your life.
That is, after all, what this whole experience is about. Your mom will still love you.
Mark Ranzenberger is a member of Central Michigan University's journalism faculty and a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He graduated from CMU.