Aug. 3, 2004

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Contact: Shanda Hurla, New Student Orientation, (785) 864-4250.

'Know when to say goodbye' and other advice for new KU students, parents

LAWRENCE -- University of Kansas advisers who work with incoming students offer tips on making the transition to college life for students -- and their parents -- a success.

Thousands of freshmen will begin their college careers at KU when they arrive the week of Aug. 15. Classes start Aug. 19. The advisers say how the college experience will end four years from now will greatly depend on how students take advantage of the resources and opportunities available to them in the first few weeks of classes.

Know when and how to say goodbye
Moving into a residence hall or scholarship hall can be hectic and emotional for students and parents if not properly planned, said Shanda Hurla, Hawk Week coordinator for the office of New Student Orientation.

"Students and parents should talk about and plan what will happen that day," Hurla said. "There are many instances when move-in day can become stressful because neither the student nor the parents know when to say goodbye."

Some things to plan for: How many parents or other family members will help the student move? Will the parents help unpack belongings? Do parents plan to stay the whole day or just long enough to help move? Finally, will the goodbyes be said in the residence hall room or somewhere else?

"We assume it's harder for parents to leave their children, but many times it's harder for the students," Hurla said. "In many instances, they are meeting their roommates for the first time, and students may be nervous about being on their own."

Stay in touch
After parents return home, it's important for them to stay in touch but also maintain an appropriate level of involvement in their children's college lives, said Tammara Durham, director of the Freshman-Sophomore Advising Center.

"Parents should be supportive of their children and ask a lot questions if they call to complain about something," Durham said. "Their children may call on a Tuesday to say they've just had the worst day of their lives but say everything is fine two days later. Parents need to understand when their children are having a bad day and when something is really wrong. Parents need to ask questions to get to the bottom of what's going on."

Hurla suggests parents set a regular time each week to call, e-mail or -- best of all -- send a hand-written letter.

"Old-fashioned mail is definitely priceless to students," Hurla said. "Someone receives a letter from home, and they are definitely the most popular person in their hall that day."

Don't duplicate
Typical residence hall rooms at KU are less than 188 square feet, and they can get crowded. Students rooming together should talk before move-in day and decide what items, such as a television, can be shared, Hurla said.

"You might find out your roommate is bringing a La-Z-Boy, and there's definitely not space for that in a residence hall room," Hurla said.

Residence halls and scholarship halls do not allow students to bring alcohol, drugs or firearms. Also prohibited are large pieces of furniture, pets (except fish), power tools, ceiling fans, toasters and other open-coil heaters, console TVs, and candles and incense.

Hurla also recommends that students not pack everything they need for the year. "Things like toothpaste and shampoo can be purchased once they arrive," she said. "Students also don't need a year's worth of clothing. They can always go home to get winter clothes during the fall or Thanksgiving break."

Participate and ask questions
Hurla recommends students take advantage of all the resources KU has to offer new students. Hawk Week, Aug. 15 through 21, features more than 60 events that will help newcomers learn about KU and its traditions -- everything from where to park to how to sing the alma mater. More information on Hawk Week can be found at

"I recommend new students take a personal class schedule tour," Hurla said. "The tours are offered on Monday through Wednesday of Hawk Week. Students bring their class schedule with them to the bronze Jayhawk outside of Strong Hall, and orientation assistants will help them find the best route to class."

Students also can save time and avoid other hassles by calling ahead and preordering their textbooks, Hurla said. Contact the KU Bookstore at (785) 864-4651 or visit for more information.

Beyond finding classes and becoming acquainted with KU, Hurla and Durham recommend that students introduce themselves to their instructors and get involved with campus organizations.

"Ask for help early," Durham said. "Meet your adviser, make connections with other students and organizations. Use the tools and support systems available to help them."


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