Press "Enter" to skip to content

Why the UMaine Parent Facebook Group is so important

It’s always a struggle to balance independence from your parents. Especially as a new student at a university, you have to figure out where you fall on the spectrum of parent involvement in your college career.  

The Facebook group “The Official UMaine Parent Facebook group” is the primary place to see every end of the parent involvement spectrum. The questions range from “What size rug will fit in an Oxford Hall room?” to “Something serious and dangerous happened to my student on campus. What’s next?” 

There’s a faculty member on a mission to act as a guide for these parents. Andi Bowen is the director of residence life at the University of Maine. The page started as an information page set up by the admissions and the first-year and transfer departments. It has since grown into a large page consisting of around 5,700 members. The page is most active between new student orientation and when classes start. I interviewed Bowen to check in on how the page interacts with the university.

“The parents were an untapped resource for us,” Bowen shared. The page allows for a new information chain. Students can pass information to their parents and have it reach helpful staff, or vice versa. This becomes something of a tool for faculty to pass information down to the parents and then subsequently to the student. “I’m kind of like an RA for the parents,” says Bowen, “so when they have concerns, they are bringing them to me, and I can make an appropriate referral.”

“25% of our first-year students are firstgeneration,” Bowen states. This further emphasizes the need for a parental guide — parents who have never attended college would struggle to know all the answers to help their students succeed. “I didn’t realize until I became a parent how scary this must be, to send your kid to school.”

There are concerns about privacy and independence, though. Some of the situations on campus involving new students are very sensitive. From roommate problems to health issues, there is oversharing and exposure on this page that could make a student upset or put them in a dangerous position. However, this problem has been helped by the addition of an anonymous posting option that allows the parent or student posting on the page to stay unknown. 

The question of student self-advocacy also arises. How are students going to prepare for the real world  when their parents have to speak up for them? The distinction is this group is not the only channel for information at the university. The students have the ability to talk through their own RA. They also have the ability to access all this information through campus groups and other campus resources. Now, parents have the same resources the students do.

Overall, the resources and information provided by this group do outweigh the potential loss of  independence for students. If helping a student be as successful as possible at the university is the goal, then it is understandable that it happens through the parents. Furthermore, the university should consider investing in parent support more often. Everyone shares the common goal of student success and more support is always better than less. 

Get the Maine Campus' weekly highlights right to your inbox!
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Secure and Spam free...