WSU orientation offers guidance for parents too

By Scott Weybright, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

BumpusPULLMAN, Wash. – The transition to college can be as tough for parents as it is for students. To help parents cope, Washington State University has initiated Letting Go and Staying Connected, the final workshop during the 12 Alive! student/parent orientation sessions in June and July.

“The summer before college can be a great time for parents to set the stage and consider what it means to be involved in a way that allows their student to flourish,” said Matthew Bumpus, an associate professor in the WSU Department of Human Development who helps conduct the workshop.

WSU students and parent.

“So we talk to parents about how to walk alongside their kids to help them think about their priorities,” he said. “It’s not about giving directions as much anymore.”

The Letting Go workshop started in 2012. Bumpus and colleagues have conducted follow-up studies with parents to assess how the workshop can be fine-tuned. Survey results show an overwhelmingly positive response.

The workshop engages parents with interactive technology. Last year, cell phone survey software allowed parents to anonymously answer questions in real time, with the results appearing on a screen immediately.

This summer, the workshop will use the interactive software even more.

“We want to illustrate that there’s no single right way to navigate this transition,” Bumpus said. “One goal of our workshop is to show parents that they aren’t the only ones with questions and concerns. Other parents are thinking the same things.

“We’ve heard from parents that they used the drive home from orientation to talk with their students about these topics,” he said. “The transition to college is really complicated for families, and we want to help them start positive conversations.”


Matthew Bumpus, WSU Department of Human Development, 509-335-3816,