New Student Send Offs Build Hometown Networks for Incoming Students and Families

Group of incoming students sitting together at a new student send off in Kansas CityThe scene at a new student send off is so consistent, it almost feels scripted. At first, students and their family members are glued to each others’ sides. Any mingling happens as one large group. Inevitably, however, the students will migrate to end up in one group and family members will find themselves in another group. By the end of the event, it’s hard to pull the students away so they can depart. And this is exactly the purpose of these annual send off events.

“We know that a support network is important as students embark on the journey that is college,” said Mark Pontious, director of parent and family programs. “Having people in that network that are on the same journey and understand where you’re coming from is always a bonus.”

New students send offs are social gatherings held in various cities around the country for incoming students and their families in July or August. The events allow students to connect with others from their hometown before moving to Oxford.Family members also benefit from building a network at home, where they can get tips about being successful at Miami, share rides to the airport or all the way to Oxford, or get reassurance that their student will survive the weather in southwest Ohio.

Students and families talking under a picnic shelterThis summer Miami alumni chapters and volunteer parents hosted 27 new student send offs in July and August in cities around the country. The return to in-person events was welcome after a year of virtual send offs in 2020. If an alumni chapter or a current parent is willing to host, staff from the alumni association and Division of Student Life work with them to find an appropriate venue, invite area students and families, and acquire refreshments.

While event sizes range, meeting other incoming students and families from the same area consistently has a calming effect on those in attendance. Current students, family members, or recent alumni share their advice and answer questions.

“When the inevitable separate student and family groups are formed, we know the event is serving its purpose,” said Pontious. “They’re connecting with who they need to connect with, and they’ll probably all feel a little more comfortable and ready to start the year.”