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Panther Parents Association
October 2016 Issue

Student Anxiety | Survey | Outside the Classroom Curriculum Credit and Pitt Make a Difference Day (PMADD)! | Did You Know That | Mental Health Awareness Week Activities | The City Is Our Campus | Upcoming Parent and Family Webinars | Student Payment Center News | University Honors College and Scholarships | Family Weekend Wrap-Up | Save the Dates

Student Anxiety

Mental Health Awareness Week
Sometimes anxiety gets the best of all of us, including college students. They need support and reassurance that they’re not alone and they can (and should) get help.    

Those of you who were able to attend College Parenting 101 during your student’s PittStart may remember hearing that parents of college students become “Support Specialists” instead of “Activities Directors.” Supporting students includes helping them cope with anxiety; a tough job, for sure.

Parents can offer support and exert a calming influence by listening to students, asking clarifying questions, and helping them to process possible solutions. If you feel that your student needs professional help, encourage them to seek out the University Counseling Center (UCC). Counselors teach anxiety-coping skills through workshops, group sessions, or one-on-one assistance. 

Although students may think that they’re the only ones to experience anxiety, please assure them that they’re not.  Counselors see many clients throughout the academic year. If you feel that your student may benefit from speaking to a therapist, please read about Counseling Center resources.  
Listen to your student’s concerns and ask clarifying questions to help guide them in finding resolution:  Here are some examples:
  1. "How much sleep are you getting?" Lack of sufficient sleep can affect the ability to concentrate and focus. Consistent lack of sleep can make matters worse. Get at least eight hours of sleep and stick to it.
  2. "Have you tried making a daily schedule that includes mealtimes, exercise time, class time, study time, and time to socialize?" Sticking to a schedule can help students take control of their day-to-day lives. You can always design a schedule for yourself and share that template with them. Then you can compare notes when you talk.
  3. "Have you been taking your prescriptions faithfully?" Starting or returning to college may not be the best time for students to stop mental health medication without a doctor’s consent. 
  4. "Can you make an appointment at the University Counseling Center? If you cannot get a timely individual appointment, ask about group workshops or sessions." 
College students want to be independent and we as parents should afford them that opportunity. However, we can still support them by rocking the “Support Specialist” role. Please let us know how we may assist you with concerns or questions by writing to or calling 412-624-8548.


Sandy Talbott
Parent and Family Liaison

Your Input is Valued

Please complete this brief survey so that we may better serve Pitt Parents with more webinars, programs, and resources.

Outside the Classroom Curriculum Credit and Pitt Make a Difference Day (PMADD)!

OCC Video
One of Pitt’s largest events in October is Pitt Make a Difference Day! (PMADD)  Over 3,850 students and members of the Pitt community came together last Saturday, October 22, for a day of service. 

From July 2016 through April 2017, the Office of Parent and Family Resources will feature Pitt’s Outside the Classroom Curriculum (OCC) program and discuss how your students can achieve each of the 10 goals. To complete the entire curriculum, receive the green OCC cords (combination of blue and gold!), and be recognized at the annual Honorary Society Induction Ceremony, students must complete 68 requirements.  October is the month of Service to Others.

PMADD is a pivotal service program which provides regional communities and agencies with much needed help.  This past Saturday, World Vision hosted students in their warehouse ensuring they had supplies ready to be shipped to areas in need, the Pittsburgh Zoo and DEBRA (Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association of America) hosted events which utilized our students in implementation of their annual fundraisers, and over 70 communities utilized students in cleanup / beautification projects that included planting trees, mulching tree pits, removal of invasive species, litter pick up, etc. Nearly 100 community agencies and nonprofit organizations hosted students.  October 22 was also the launch of the Big Brothers Big Sisters on-campus program, which pairs Pitt students with local youth for a year-long mentoring relationship.
This year’s PMADD was a wonderful representation of what our Pitt community can do when we pull together.  Days like PMADD set the stage for year-long service throughout our region. We hope that the entire Pitt community will use Pitt Make a Difference Day as a launching point for year-round community service to ensure that we are all active community members in the place we call home!   Kudos to The4 Office of Pitt Serves, student - Dan Lampmann who served as chair, and his committee!   


Why do students need to serve their community?
Students attend Pitt to learn. However, the learning process not only happens in the classroom, but also in other forms of learning. Pitt offers students this great opportunity to explore community needs. This event encourages students to think critically about how they can be part of positive change and further improve the community environment and sustainability.  Each student will get OCC credit for participating in this event.

How can parents play a role in this event?

  1. Emphasize the importance of getting involved with community work
  2. Challenge your student to connect this serving opportunity with their academic pursuits
  3. Open communication and listen to their service experiences
  4. Be a role model and participate in a community service project in your area. 
  5. Encourage your student to seek out future OCC service programs


Julia Qian 
Graduate Student Intern 
Parent and Family Resources 

Did You Know That:

Buses Home

Pitt provides Buses Home for the Holidays to select regions for Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring recesses?
Flu Shots

Student Health Service provides free flu shots to students?
Buses Home
Students can audit their meal plan balance with each Pitt dining purchase? Encourage your student to be financially literate by checking their pre-paid meal plan balance before they make food purchases at off-campus locations.  
Buses Home
A limited number of free Parent and Family Calendars  are available in William Pitt Union Suite 130. Select academic dates, Student Affairs events, and tips to support your student are pre-populated through August 2017. Students can pick these up for you from 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. weekdays while supplies last!

Mental Health Awareness Week Activities

It’s October. The honeymoon of arriving on campus is past and students are immersed in rigorous coursework, class responsibilities, group projects, and individual study. They are balancing those challenges with participating in student organizations and taking on leadership roles, negotiating with roommates, and getting proper exercise, nutrition, and sleep. Sometimes their schedules may overwhelm them to a point where they need to speak to a professional to stay (or get back) on track. 

Recently, Parent and Family Resources hosted a webinar which featured Dr. Ed Michaels, and Dr. Kym Jordan Simmons of the University Counseling Center. During the program they offered resources and guidance so parents and families could get a better understanding of the Counseling Center, and also an understanding of how they could support their students. We are pleased to offer a recording of that broadcast on the Student Affairs’ Parent Website.
Therapy Dogs
At the writing of this article, Pitt is hosting our annual “Let’s Talk” campaign. A full week of activities were designed to bring mental health awareness to the forefront and encourage students to talk about mental health and seek help when they need it. 

This semester, encourage your student to make some four-legged friends during Pet Therapy Tuesdays! 

The city is our campus!  Encourage your student to explore it!

Now that your student is getting more comfortable with Pitt’s on-campus environment, maybe they will want to branch out and explore our cool surrounding neighborhoods. Check out the First Year Mentor’s vlog that will help them (and you) do just that! 

Upcoming Parent and Family Webinars

The next Parent and Family Resources webinar will address Off Campus Living and Safety.  Panelists will include Pitt Police and Off Campus Living administrators. Advanced registration is required. Register here!

Financial Aid and
Student Payment Center News

Important FAFSA CHANGES for 2017-2018:  As the fall semester is winding down, you may be starting to think about preparing for the next semester. Why not prepare for next year? The U.S. Department of Education has changed the filing date for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to October 1st. You can now complete the 2017-18 FAFSA, so why wait? There have been changes to the FAFSA for the upcoming year, so it is important to complete it early. One of the changes is that you will again use the 2015 tax information. This is great because now you no longer have to wait to complete your FAFSA because your taxes aren’t completed or need to go back and update your information since your 2015 taxes should already be filed.

Although you are able to complete your 2017-18 FAFSA earlier, our priority deadline at the University of Pittsburgh will remain as March 1st. For Pennsylvania residents, PHEAA has decided to keep their May 1st deadline for the PHEAA State Grant program as well. This extended FAFSA application period will increase accuracy and allow for more time to provide any requested documentation to our Financial Aid Office. You can expect to receive your Financial Aid Award Notifications in early March. We want you to be considered for all financial aid that may be available to you, so take advantage of the early launch of the 2017-18 FAFSA!   Questions should be directed to

Stay InformedThe Student Payment Center communicates with students at their email address. Please make sure your student is monitoring their Pitt email account regularly and responding to time-sensitive notifications that require attention. 
Spring 2017 Payment Plan: Payment Plans are completely optional but are available to families who want to pay the student account in a series of monthly installments instead of one lump sum. Payment plans have definite end dates, so the sooner you enroll, the more installments you receive. Six installments remain for the Spring 2017 plan if you sign up by November 4, 2016. 
Learn more about payment plans on our website or call the Student Payment Center at 412-624-7520 for assistance.  If you decide not to use a payment plan, Spring 2017 charges will be due according to the regular Billing and Due Date Schedule.

University Honors College and Scholarships

Be in your student’s corner (of the world!) and help them discover scholarship opportunities for research and travel!

Family Weekend Wrap-Up

Thank you to all families who visited campus for Family Weekend. Over 1,000 families spent time with their students while attending activities like the Vice Provost’s Welcome Reception, cultural and art opportunities, movie night, a concert, and various open houses. And, many witnessed a great football victory over Marshall University’s Thundering Herd! All families received a hearty welcome on the Heinz Field jumbotron!  

We extend sincere congratulations to the Popovski family whose daughter, junior engineering major – Cassie, won the Family of the Year Essay Contest held earlier this year. Vice Provost and Dean of Student’s Kenyon Bonner publically recognized the Popovski family as Pitt’s Family of the Year at the welcome reception. 

Encourage your student to participate in Pitt’s 2017 Family of the Year Essay contest. Details will become available in February, 2017.

Pictured: Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner with Pitt's 2016 Family of the Year.

Save the Dates

  • Academic Calendar
  • Pitt Make a Difference Day (PMADD): October 22
  • Thanksgiving Recess for students:  November 23 - 27 (University closed November 24-25)
  • Residence Halls Close:  December 18
  • Student Winter Recess: December 18-January 3 Inclusive
  • Residence Halls reopen:  January 2
  • University Offices and buildings reopen:  January 3
  • Spring classes resume:  January 4
  • Spring Break:  March 5 - 12
The University of Pittsburgh
Division of Student Affairs 
Office of Parent and Family Resources
130 William Pitt Union
Pittsburgh, PA 15260 | 412-624-8548

Copyright © 2015 University of Pittsburgh, All rights reserved.

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