Your Student is Here…Now What?!?!

The year has started and your student has begun their life as a college student. Whether your student lives on campus or commutes, the transition is a big one and can come with a lot of feelings…excitement, worry, nervousness, anxiety, hope…and those feelings can sometimes be tough for your student to manage.

So what do you do if your student calls you and is upset? Maybe they’re feeling homesick or feeling like they’re not fitting in or haven’t found their place at the university. Maybe they’re worried classes will be too hard and they’re afraid of not doing well. As parents, family members, and supporters, there are several ways you can encourage and support your student as they work through these feelings and their transition to college.

  1. Don’t Panic! All of these feelings are completely natural and are feelings that most college students experience at some point in their transition. Entering into a new environment can be awkward and feel uncomfortable. Listen to your student vent and give them a chance to express how they’re feeling, and know that what they are going through is normal.
  2. Encourage Your Student to Get Involved! The #1 way to help your student successfully transition into college is to encourage them to get connected on campus. This could mean:
  • It’s really tough, but avoid being the problem solver or the urge to come to the rescue! We know it can be hard to watch your student deal with uncomfortable feelings, but challenge your student to put themselves out there and find their “home” on campus. If you can, avoid having them come home for extra visits, and avoid the urge to come to campus to visit them (if they live on campus). They’ll figure out how to navigate their new environment if they have the opportunity (and challenge) to do so.
  • Let them feel the support from home! Send your student a care package or card if they do not live with you. If your student still lives at home and commutes, surprise them with a nice note in their bag or pack them a special snack. Your student will feel better about the transition with reminders of how much they are loved at home and that they have a solid foundation of people rooting for them.
  • You know your student. While all students can struggle with the transition to college, you know your student best and know what to expect from their behavior and reactions. If your student is having an especially hard time, there are resources on campus to help them through it. Encourage your student to speak to someone from the counseling center. If you’re worried about your student’s mental wellness and safety, also consider reaching out to the STARs program.

There is an entire campus community here for you and your student! Please always reach out to us if you need anything!

River Hawk Family Update Email 8.20.2021

*This email was sent to the Parent & Family email distribution list on 8.20.2021.*

Greetings River Hawk Families!

We hope this email finds you well! Welcome to the first of our regular “River Hawk Family Updates” for the academic year. Family Programs will be sending an email to parents and families every other Friday with university updates and information. We hope this information is helpful to you and your student as you navigate the beginning of the semester.

Opportunities & Information for Parents & Families:

  • If you’d like to send your student an encouraging message for the start of the year, check out our “Letters from Home” program found on the Family Programs website. Submit your message online, and we’ll make sure it’s delivered to your student the third week of classes.
  • Check out the newest edition of News to the Nest, UML Family Program’s blog. Our newest entry highlights important things parents and families need to know about student privacy and what the university is, and isn’t, able to share with parents and families.
  • Move-In Weekend for residential students is August 28 & 29. For more information on the move-in process, check out Residence Life’s Move-In page. This page contains information on when to arrive, directions, and a list of suggested items to bring (and not bring) for your student’s room. If you have questions about move-in, please feel free to contact Residence Life at 978-934-5160 or

Opportunities & Information for your Student:

  • UMass Lowell will host a mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic for students and employees in the Salem Street Lot next to University Crossing from 11am to 3pm on Thursday, August 26. More information can be found by viewing the UMass Lowell Announcement. As a reminder, vaccinated students should upload their vaccination card and associated information to the Student Health Services Patient Portal.
  • There are many programs planned for Opening Week that your student can be a part of! Your student can view all of the events on the Opening Week Calendar!
  • Convocation is the formal welcome for all students entering the UMass Lowell academic community. This year we will be welcoming first year and sophomore year students on Tuesday, August 31st at 11am at the Tsongas Center.  
  • Immediately following Convocation is the annual Engagement Fair and BBQ, where your student can meet representatives from the many clubs that UMass Lowell offers. The Engagement Fair is on Tuesday, August 31st from 12pm to 2pm on the Rec Center fields (east campus).

Upcoming Important Dates:

  • September 1:  Fall classes begin
  • September 6:  Labor Day, University Closed
  • September 15:  Last day to add a course or drop a course without record (if your student has any questions about this, they can contact their advisor or email

If we can help track down any information or answer any questions, please let us know. We wish everyone a safe and happy start of the academic year.

Many thanks,

Marshall Greenleaf

Hawk Talk: What Parents & Families Need to Know About Student Privacy & Communicating with the University

The start of the college journey is a huge time of transition for your student, but also for you as a parent or family member! One aspect of this transition that can sometimes come as a surprise to parents/families is the way that the university is allowed (and not allowed) to communicate information. Many families are used to the way communication happens in the K-12 system, where parents/families can access information about their student from teachers and staff. Once your student starts college though, their educational records are considered private, and professors and administrators are bound by FERPA (Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act) in terms of what they can share with you about your student.

But what if your student WANTS you to know their information and be able to discuss information with faculty and administrators?

If your student wants to allow you this access, there are a few ways they can authorize the release of information and allow administrators to share information with you:

  • If your student wants to share information related to their academics (grades and class schedule) or their financial information (billing and their student account), they can set up a guest access log-in for you that will allow you to access that information in the student information system (SIS). This program is called UShare Guest Access and can be set up online by your student.
  • If your student would like to share information related to their housing or have you speak with Residence Life Staff, they can fill out a FERPA Waiver Form by logging into the Online Housing Portal.
  • If your student would like to give you permission to speak to a member of the Health Services staff, they should try to set up a phone call or meeting where they (the student) are also present and give consent to share information.
  • If your student wants to share their student conduct information and give you permission to speak to Student Conduct Staff, they should contact and request a FERPA Waiver for Student Conduct.

There are specific situations where UMass Lowell will automatically initiate communication to parents/families (as long as they are listed as emergency contacts in SIS). These specific situations include:

  • If your student is under the age of 21 and is found responsible for a drug or alcohol violation.
  • Your student is found responsible for a conduct violation that impacts their status as a student
  • (if the situation results in suspension, expulsion, or removal from on-campus housing).
  • Your student is transported to the hospital and is unable to call on their own.
  • The university is unable to locate a student and determines that the student may be missing.

We know that adjusting to a new way of communicating can be tough, but know that staff and faculty are here to partner with you to ensure your student is successful during their time at UML!  

Want to be sure you get updates and information as the semester progresses? Check out the different resources on Family Communication from Family Programs!