Welcome to the Parent to Parent Blog

The Parent to Parent Blog is run by members of the Penn State Parents Council that are dedicated to enhancing parent to parent communication. This blog is a partnership with the Penn State Parents Program. The blog will provide parent and family perspectives about their time at Penn State. We will strive to use the individual expertise of our Parent Council members to educate you about various topics, as well as the resources and services available from the university.

three parents volunteer at parents and families weekend by welcoming new students and their familiestwo members of the parents council volunteer at an information table during parents and families weekend

Opportunities Abound! What My Son Did to Make the Most of His Summer Months

By Enid Roman, Parents Council

When my son chose Penn State, we knew the University would provide an excellent curriculum to prepare him for his dream career as an Astrophysicist. We’ve been amazed by the incredible opportunities he’s had, especially during Summer Session.

For the second summer in a row, my son had the opportunity to take two classes.  He was able to take one class during each session: Chemistry 202 and Physics 211. He also was able to work and be trained as a culinary assistant at South Food District over the summer. Following the training, he became eligible to work at North Food District, and due to his hard work was promoted to culinary apprentice.

In addition, he is training as an undergraduate astrophysics researcher with Professor Alex Wolszcan. He and another undergraduate student are conducting research on celestial objects knows as Brown Dwarfs. In addition, he volunteered his time at the Astro Fest Observatory during Art Fest in July, where he was able to set up and demonstrate solar observation with the Davey Laboratory’s new 24” f/6.5 Corrected Dall‐Kirkham Astrograph telescope. He took pictures with this telescope and demonstrated the M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy), the M27 (Dumbbell Nebula), and the M82. Thanks to his experience during Astro Fest he is the only undergraduate student who knows how to set up the new 24” telescope. He was asked to volunteer for an Observation Night demonstration for visiting teachers the following week.

Last summer my son not only completed two classes for his major, but also got a head start on fall semester. This summer he hopes to do an internship with NASA. There are so many opportunities for Penn State students to enrich their collegiate experience during the summer, so I encourage you and your student to explore as many as possible. My son has certainly made the most of his summers at Penn State!

Why Wait? The Time is Now!

By Ed Mazurek, Parents Council

Time flies!   In fact, the older I get, the faster it flies! It seems that no sooner does a semester begin than it ends.  The same goes for an entire college career.  It’s over in the blink of an eye.  And when it is over, the real world awaits.  Yet, when you’re in your late teens and early twenties, it seems like time is an inexhaustible commodity.  As a parent, you know better.

Now is a time for students to set themselves up for success once their time at Penn State is but a fond memory.  Of course, doing well in class is an obvious step toward future success, but there are also other things that students can be doing now to put themselves in a better position for their futures.  After all, success does not happen overnight.  It’s a building process in which actions must be taken over time, you know, like planting seeds and laying the groundwork.

Based on my experience, here are a few suggestions of things parents can convey to their students that they can and should be doing now to enhance their future career opportunities.

  • Students should be using the incredible resources of the Penn State Career Services office now to find summer or permanent jobs, internship opportunities, and to polish their resume and interview skills.
  • Building a resume of employment is extremely important for future job prospects. Not only do you learn something from any job you have, but actually having job experience shows work ethic and ambition – two highly prized attributes in the real world.  Your student can visit the Career Services website right now, in fact, to start the process.
  • Students should also be consciously establishing close relationships with their professors. That doesn’t happen in one meeting, but rather it happens through frequent contact that enables professors to get to know a student more personally.  I got my first job out of law school through a professor’s contact and recommendation.  That ended up being a huge factor in catapulting my career.  Students should not be shy about this.  Professors exist because there are students.  At least that should be the mentality of professors, in my book.  Professors love students who show interest, and who are open and enthusiastic about their passions.
  • Professors are not the only contacts that can enhance success after PSU. Knowing and connecting with people, or networking, remains a vital component.  There’s a reason that the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” became an adage in the first place.  Of course, it’s not always just who you know, but, combined with what you know, personal relationships can be an exceptionally powerful thing.

At Penn State University Park, your student can connect with over 40,000 other undergraduates.  In fact, your student has about 8,000 new contacts each year as a new class of students enters. That’s a lot of potential contacts!  You can’t get to know everyone, but you can get to know others in your classes and in your activities, others who live on your floor and in your building, friends of friends, etc.  So, get to know as many people as you can – in a good way obviously!  At the risk of sounding Machiavellian, recognizing that it’s a small world and, with any luck, a long life, students should recognize that the people they meet now might one day be the people who may be in positions to help them later.   So, get out there, be nice and try not to burn any bridges!

As a parent, I am most proud of Penn State because…

By Bill Roberts, Parents Council

As my son enters his last semester at Penn State, I took a moment to reflect about his time there.

I am proud that he is at the same school that I attended. It seemed like only the other day when the college decision process was upon him. He had narrowed his list down to three schools. I suggested that he check out Penn State.

The visit, which occurred over a THON weekend, was all that was needed. We didn’t get a chance to stop by the Bryce Jordon Center to see the event but you knew something special was happening. Its presence was felt pretty much everywhere.  While I am sure THON was a factor in his decision to attend Penn State, it wasn’t the only one. He was impressed with the biology program and facilities for that major.


I am also proud that he took full advantage of the University Park campus. From joining a fraternity his first year, volunteering at Mount Nittany Medical Center, becoming a campus Emergency Medical Technician, serving as a resident assistant, getting involved in research, being a LEAP mentor during a summer session, working in the White Building fitness center, as well as joining a number of clubs, he was constantly engaged.

In addition, I am proud that he did well academically and is ready for the next phase of his life. This has him going onto medical school.  At Penn State, he had many people that guided him towards that end. This list includes his academic advisor, professors, graduate assistants, fraternity brothers, and upperclassmen.  But as a parent, I am most proud that Penn State was the place that helped him achieve his goal.


A Winter Graduation

By Betsy Millane, Parents Council

I was privileged to attend my son’s winter graduation in December. In spite of the icy weather, the occasion was warm, memorable and quite manageable.

Penn State held their Fall Commencement on December 17, 2016.

The Schreyer Honors College Medals Ceremony was held on Friday, December 16, 2016 at The Penn Stater Hotel Conference Center at 5:00 p.m.

Saturday saw the Baccalaureate and Associate Degree Ceremonies, held in The Bryce Jordan Center at 9:00 a.m. for the College of Agricultural Sciences, Smeal College of Business, College or Earth and Minerals Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the College of Information Sciences and Technology.

At 12:30 p.m. ceremonies were held for the Colleges of Arts and Architecture, Communications, Education, Health and Human Development, Liberal Arts and the College of Nursing.

At 4:30 p.m. the Graduate School held their ceremony.

That’s all the official stuff – here’s what you need to know:

The grads were asked to be at the Bryce Jordan Center by 8:15 a.m. Icy rain, slick roads, and traffic kept us from getting there until 8:30 but it wasn’t a problem at all for my son to meet with his class or for me to get to the Center. There were plenty of parking spaces.

There were no bag checks so I was able to bring my camera into the center, although I was asked to stay in my seat for my photos. Yes, I did sneak a few candid photos from the steps.

President Barron kept his comments short and to the point – a good thing for everyone as there were many graduates to get to. The entire ceremony took perhaps 2 hours.

Every graduate was asked to come up to the stage as their names were read aloud and was handed a card; the diplomas would be sent home. A photographer was on hand to take photos and the images were emailed to us a day later. They were terrific, inexpensive, and easy to order.

I made my reservation at the Penn Stater in early October and there was no problem getting a room. The rate was reasonable, about $165 per night.  The Hilton was about $260.

Letterman’s was booked for Saturday night so we went on Friday, but had no trouble finding a seat at Otto’s for Saturday lunch.

Friday was the last day of exams so many of the kids had already cleared out. The campus, which my son drove me around and through Friday night after dinner in a lovely tour of his favorite spots, was subdued and quiet. The Frat house still had some inhabitants, but the parking lot sported many open spaces.

I thought to stay another night, but took advantage of a good weather window to pack up and leave by about 4:00 in the afternoon.

Both my son and I were sad about leaving the home he had enjoyed for 4 ½ years. Certainly the young man I dropped off was not the young man who was leaving.  He’d been challenged and had changed for the better. He was confident in his studies, his friendships, and his ability to roll with the punches. He had learned, from his internship the summer before, how sweet Happy Valley was, how top rate the gym, the value of having friends around all the time, and the power of a Penn State degree.

We left Penn State strong and grateful for the experience.