Junior Parents Weekend

Recently I received Notre Dame’s brochure promoting this year’s Junior Parents Weekend, and I’m still debating what to do about it.

JPW is billed as an opportunity to “become part of the academic, spiritual, social, and residential life of the University.” The weekend offers parents a chance “to learn more about the people and places that comprise your son or daughter’s home away from home.”

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Almost like going back to college myself, only this time, actually knowing something!

But guess when this extravaganza is to be held?

Did you say October, when the weather cools a bit and the campus trees are brilliant with reds and golds and coppers?


Maybe April, when a profusion of multicolored tulips poke through the soil, buds pop out on the trees, and the grass greens, turning everything into an emerald oasis?

No again.

JPW is scheduled for February.


Whose idea was that?

February, the shortest and dreariest month in the entire calendar.

February, when mountains of snow and patches of ice make travel by foot or vehicle treacherous.

February, when PermaCloud (that pervasive cloud cover over Northern Indiana) is ever-present to darken the skies above and the spirits within.

February. Seriously.

But maybe there’s more to it than at first glance.

Is it possible they deliberately chose February as the month for JPW?

So parents and their students could come aside for a few days deep in the heart of winter, when daylight is shorter and campus is quieter, when all you hear is the soft crunch of footsteps on the snow, when few other activities or holidays or demands compete for our attention, when the laughter of students blends with the camaraderie of professors and parents in a celebration of gala feasts and live entertainment.

Yeah, that must be it.

But I still wish they’d chosen another month. Mid-September through mid-November is nice; so’s mid-April through mid-May.

February is the height of basketball season. My Favorite Domer probably will be otherwise occupied with Band obligations, leaving little opportunity for “family bonding.”

If I could even get to campus through the ice and snow.

Another thing — they invite us to a celebration, then expect us to pay for every activity. Plus our own hotel rooms.

Call me cheap, but couldn’t they at least throw in free tickets to a home football game??

18 thoughts on “Junior Parents Weekend

  1. Debbie, you’d think they’d at least do that! And need we mention you’re more than likely already paying an arm an a leg? Methinks the month of February was chosen so as to discourage parent participation. It might be a college but deep down it’s like any old school. They say they want you to drop by but the reality is they don’t. Or maybe I’m just jaded. hee hee! 🙂

    • I’ll bet there’s more than a drop of truth in what you’ve said, Bella! The probability they really DON’T want us there certainly crossed my mind at first — otherwise, why wouldn’t they make this weekend as “painless” as possible? After all, some of these parents aren’t in healthy physical shape, and getting around on ice won’t help matters. Thanks for weighing in and letting me know I’m not alone!

  2. What are they thinking? My daughter’s school has a parents’ weekend, too, but I’ve only gone once, when she was a freshman and it was held over Halloween weekend. But then the following year it was held two weekends before Thanksgiving! And this year, too! Who plans a parents’ weekend right before Thanksgiving?? I had to make a decision whether to visit her for the parents’ weekend or whether to come out for Thanksgiving. I was not in a position to afford both. Well, guess which one won? It’ll be interesting to see when they schedule it next year. Obviously, they don’t ask for parent input when planning, and common sense goes out the window!

    • Thanks, Monica — I was beginning to wonder whether I was just being selfish! It’s not like I haven’t visited campus; shoot, I’ve been back and forth between here and there every single month just about! Maybe this is geared to parents who live in far-off places like Hawaii. Having parents’ weekend right before Thanksgiving is a horrible idea — I’m glad you didn’t feel the need to buy into two trips in the space of a few days!

  3. Hmmm…sounds as appealing as if Arizona State held one in July or August. I thrink free tickets is a reasonable offer to get parents to come (if that is indeed what they want to happen.) It seems like the whole deal can get expensive.

    • Oh, Janna, you just can’t know! The tickets alone come to around $100 (which doesn’t sound like much, until you remember that Christmas is right around the corner and the tickets need to be purchased by early December!). Then, you’ve got two days worth of hotel accommodations, food, gas, and me giving up a whole day’s work for my job — plus clothing, since I certainly don’t have the fancy cocktail clothes called for, ha!

  4. Its true February is such a glum month and who wants to go out in it? Travel is always iffy and hard that time of year. Fall or spring is such a better choice.
    In my opinion every activity should be free and parents should only be responsible for food and lodging. It is not a fund raiser but an opportunity to show parents that their fund are being put to good use…..

    • That’s the part that graveled me, Katybeth. It’s NOT a fund raiser; it’s an opportunity to meet my son’s friends and their parents, to see the academic buildings my son travels among, to experience a slice of campus life. Rather than participate in this, I think I’ll just tally the amount it’s going to cost and write them a check to be used for scholarships or something — I’m sure other parents would get on board with this!


        • Hi Joe, and Welcome! I don’t know where you’re from, but winter in the upper Midwest is pretty brutal. Sure, campus has a special glow at any time of year, but winter is far from its best look, in my opinion. The only part of Illinois that’s anywhere near close is Chicago, and you still have to navigate an hour or more on the tollway. It’s not like I’ve never been to campus — far from it, since I’m up there about once a month already. My son takes after me (we’re practical and frugal); he made the decision I should stay home because this is a public relations event, not the “bonding with our sons and daughters” we’d like it to be! But, hey, if you’re determined to go, don’t let my opinion stop you — I hope it will be wonderful in every way.

  5. Amen, Debbie! I never heard of a Parent’s Weekend being in February for all the reasons you listed. I’m thinking, you aren’t alone in your disapproval, especially about having to fork out more money on top of all the money you have already given the university. Makes sense to me. I’ll be interested in this sequel to this story. I’m sure you’ll keep us posted 🙂

    • Thanks for your understanding (and nudge!), Kathy! I love a party as well as the next person, but I’d much rather see my money going to a worthwhile cause (like scholarships or new buildings) than a soiree. I’ve always been of the opinion that, if somebody invites you to a gathering/celebration, they shouldn’t ask you to help foot the bill, either!

  6. Hey, anyone who’s going, I’ll make sure to say “Hi”. We’re actually excited about it, even though it’s costly. The one thing we ARE concerned about is the weather; we’re a 9 hour drive, and who knows about the northern US in February. It might be nice, it might not be nice. I guess we’re just so darn proud. Neither of us graduated from college, and our daughter worked really hard for this, and she’s looking forward to hosting us. Yeah, it appears that it might be a little fussy and formal. We’ll be OK, though.

    • Hi Tom and Welcome! I hope you’ll have a wonderful time at JPW. You’re right in being proud of your daughter! While I did graduate college, my university didn’t have anything like JPW (and my parents probably couldn’t have afforded to attend if it had!).
      I expect most parents agree the important thing is spending quality time with our sons and daughters. Since I’m back and forth to visit my son every month anyway, he doesn’t want me to spend extra time and money just for this occasion. I’m sure it will be beautiful — ND goes all out for special occasions! — but my son would prefer to have my undivided attention for a weekend, rather than a superficial large-crowd gathering. He agrees the money we’d spend would be more appreciated by ND if it were donated to the university in lump sum for buildings or scholarships or whatever, rather than our attending cocktail parties and such.
      To each his/her own! Write back afterward and let us hear how it went, okay?

      • Sure will, Debbie!

        I do agree that February was chosen because nothing else was going on. I took an extra day off before and after, so as to allow at least a little bit of variance for the weather. We have friends and family in the area, we can use the extra time to visit if we don’t need it to travel.

        • So far, we’ve had a pretty easy winter, all things considering. Still, South Bend is awfully prone to having “lake-effect snow,” so you’re wise to go prepared! My son tells me that campus, at least, does an outstanding job at cleaning off their walkways — can’t say the same thing about the secondary roads, however!

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