Letter to parents

Renée Schafer Horton, internship and career counseling coordinator
• Phone: 520-626-9219
• email: rshorton@email.arizona.edu

Dear parents of journalism freshmen:

I feel you.

You’re thrilled your child was accepted into college. So much to learn! So many new experiences! A broaden mind and, fingers crossed, a decently-paying profession in four more years!

You’re also terrified. What if what you saw in your social media feed about Horrible College Experience #362 is true? What if someone breaks your child’s heart, or worse? What if you lose a semester of outrageously high tuition because your child decides missing “just a couple” classes is no big deal and fails her first semester?

I get it. I did the Great Goodbye four times in six years as my now successful-in-every-way adult children took off for their respective freshman years in college. After my husband and I dropped them off, I spent weeks worrying, as if my heart was out walking around outside of my body.

But having been on the receiving end of college freshmen the past six years working in higher education, I’m here to say that your transition can be easier. How? By tying your financial investment in your student’s education to the following Freshman Year To-Do List.

It will decrease your worry and increase your student’s resilience and chance of success if you require them to:

1.         …see their academic adviser (Paloma Boykin) in the first six weeks of school. This crucial person helps students navigate all higher education, not just course planning, and are often the first person to notice a student’s distress.

2.         …make an appointment with me, the School of Journalism’s coordinator for internships and career counseling, before November 15. That way I can help them know what to do in the spring semester to be able to qualify for internship their sophomore year – or, in some cases, even in the summer of their freshman year.

3.         …check their university email daily, and know how to compose a professional email. In higher education, most communication is done by email and when university employees get an email that appears to have been written by a third-grader (more common than you’d think, due to texting), it’s not a good impression.

4.         …get involved in a group on campus. It can the recycling club, student government, a religious organization, intermural sports team, or, best for journalism majors, the campus newspaper or television station. These groups help students make healthy connections that offer support during freshman year, which is often a lonely and stressful time for freshmen.

5.         …meet with at least one of their professors during office hours each semester. This is especially important if she’s having trouble in a class, but even if she’s doing well, mastering face-to-face conversations with adults unrelated to her will help her succeed. Additionally, these connections are very important in journalism because many internships require a letter of recommendation from a professor and if the professor has never seen the student and the limits are difficult to write that letter.

While this doesn’t need requirement of freshman year, it would certainly be a requirement sophomore year: Get a part-time job, preferably on campus. Research has shown consistently since 2009 that students who work part-time – about 15 hours a week seems to be the sweet spot – have higher grade point averages than students who don’t work at all or students who work more than 20 hours a week. A part-time job also gives them a foot up when they’re competing at the internship fair I host twice a year here at the School of Journalism. Having a proven job history is one of the best ways to get the next job!

As you’re treasuring your last days with your college student at home, remember that the School of Journalism has the same goals for your child as you do: academic success, personal safety, emotional security, professional happiness. If your student does the five things above, they’ll cross our path sooner rather than later, and we help them reach those goals.

Please feel free to reach out with me about any general questions you might have about internships or career counseling. I’m in the office Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. You can reach me at 520-626-9219, or by email at rshorton@email.arizona.edu


Renée Schafer Horton

Coordinator, Internship and Career Counseling

University of Arizona School of Journalism