Junior Parents Give College Life a Try

Elena M Pepe

Adams residents and their parents enjoy a wide range of treats at Adams House's Junior Parents Weekend reception at the Masters' Residence on Friday, March 4.

Parents of the Class of 2012 flocked to Harvard’s campus this weekend for the annual Junior Parents Weekend.

Mothers and fathers participated in activities including tours of Widener Library, luncheons in each of the Houses, and numerous presentations in Sanders Theatre—and reliving their college experiences by joining the Harvard social scene.

“I taught my parents how to play Civil War, and the three of us are really good at it,” Marie R. Appel ’12 said.

Appel, her nine roommates, and several of her friends organized a beer pong tournament for their visiting parents on Saturday night, in perhaps one of the more unusual ways of commemorating the conclusion of Junior Parents Weekends.

“My Lord, it was one of the most relaxing, fun, crazy things we’ve done in a long time,” Appel’s mother, Mimi, said of the weekend in general. “It was a ball. I love exactly how it worked out.”

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Junior Parents Weekend, jointly organized by the Office of Student Life and the Crimson Key Society, began on Friday morning with a schedule of open houses, receptions, tours, and speakers.

Parents were invited to Sanders Theatre on Friday evening to listen to a welcome address from University President Drew G. Faust. The event, which also featured Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson and a panel of seniors discussing their Harvard experience and future plans, was one of the most well-attended of the weekend, according to Daniel P. Bicknell ’13, the Crimson Key Society’s co-coordinator of Junior Parents Weekend.

Bicknell added that lectures on Saturday afternoon, especially those by Kennedy School Professor Roger B. Porter and Medical School Professor Nicholas A. Christakis, were also popular among the parents.

“The relevant topics and the professors themselves attracted most of the parents,” Bicknell said.

Numerous receptions and open houses provided parents with multiple other options for their unstructured periods of time.

But the weekend’s scheduling at the height of midterm season concerned many juniors.

“[My friends and I] didn’t have that much time for work,” said Abigail A. Schachter ’12, who said she has four midterms this coming week. “Maybe after spring break or maybe late toward the end of the year would have been better timing.”

Still, many students, including Appel and Shadman S. Zaman ’12, considered the highlights of the weekend not be those events scheduled by the University, but instead the rare opportunities the weekend allowed for parents, classmates, and friends to interact.

Zaman said meeting his roommates’ parents enabled him to understand his roommates in a much different way.

“When you talk to someone’s parents, you can kind of gauge where they get their personalities and mannerisms from,” Zaman said. “You assume your friends have really unique personalities, which they do, but when you meet their parents ... it’s really funny.”

By junior year, parents and students are more accustomed to and familiar with college life, and both agreed that the second visit organized by the University varied substantially from Freshman Parents Weekend.

But while much changed between visits to campus, at least one parent said she learned one lesson in the fall of 2008 that has stuck with her since.

“Did we rub on John Harvard’s toe this time?” Mimi Appel said. “Absolutely not.”

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