CMC Parent News - Winter 2019
In this issue:
Are you Ready for Family Weekend
Academic Assistance + Executive Skills = Success
Job Shadowing: Gaining an Insider’s View
How to Help Your Student Through Stressful Times

Are You Ready for Family Weekend 2019?

Join the Journey at CMC / By Heidi Friedlander P'19

It’s almost time to “Join in the Journey” at Claremont McKenna College Family Weekend 2019! The Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement and the Parent Network Board Co-Vice Presidents of Programs, KK Streator P'18 P'21 and Jon Frank P'21, have put together a fantastic array of events for us to enjoy from Saturday, February 16 through Monday, February 18.

Highlights of the weekend include favorites from years past such as faculty lectures, Vice President and Ambassador-at-Large John Faranda’s '79 behind the scenes walking tour of campus, and, of course, the annual Town Hall meeting with President Hiram Chodosh. Additional opportunities to participate in the student experience include student led sessions, complete with a simulation with the award-winning Model UN team, a live podcast recording with Free Food for Thought, and presentations of brilliant senior thesis projects by members of the Class of 2019.

Also new this year, see the natural beauty of Claremont showcased during a 5-mile hike through the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, led by students from the Outdoor Initiative

As if all this were not enough, we will also be treated to presentations by faculty and staff representing various departments across the college, including Associate Dean of Students for Diversity, Inclusion and Residential Life, Vince Greer; Kristen Mallory from the Center for Global Education; Beth Saliba Milev '05 and Ursula Diamond from the Soll Center for Student Opportunity; and Ron Riggio P'10 from Kravis Leadership Institute.

And of course, Family Weekend would not complete without the chance to cheer on our CMS athletic teams! See the most current schedule for a complete listing of all times and locations.

At check in, be on the lookout for a full schedule of classes that are available to audit on Monday to get a real feel for the life of CMC student. On Monday evening, to cap off this extraordinary weekend, we will have the honor of hearing from Kim Sajet P'20, Director, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery at the Athenaeum. Wow! I can’t wait!

A few items of note:

  • Family Weekend is not just for parents! Grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings all report enjoying the experience. While officially programming is designed for those age 16 and over, the younger set can enjoy some family time as well. I suggest that you find something else fun for the little ones to do with appropriate supervision while you are attending presentations.
  • Family Weekend is not just for the families of underclassmen. The content changes each year and the staff works hard to ensure that there is something of interest for everyone.
  • Don’t feel as though you need to attend the entire weekend. Many people spend one day on campus then go off exploring the greater Los Angeles area. Feel free to do what is best for your family.
  • Attire runs the gamut from athletic to business casual. Be comfortable, especially in the footwear department since Claremont is a walking town. Take note of those events on the schedule with a suggested dress code as you will want to dress appropriately for those.
  • To get a more complete feeling for the CMC student experience, consider exploring events at the other 5 campuses. A full listing of open events will be included with registration materials.

If you haven’t already done so,

  1. Make your travel plans as soon as possible. Hotels in Claremont are pretty much sold out for that weekend, but there is an abundance of good choices in Ontario that are also convenient.
  2. Peruse the schedule. With so many great options, a little bit of planning ensures that you don’t miss out on your preferred programming. A few activities require invitation or have limited space available, so be sure to read the descriptions online.
  3. Discuss your plans with your student. While students are welcomed (and encouraged) to attend, other commitments will likely impact their availability. Mix it up by participating in the scheduled activities (and meeting other parents!) when your student is busy then perhaps grab a few meals, head out for an off-campus adventure (or Target run!) or capture the moment by taking a family photo when your student has the time. The weekend will be more enjoyable for all if, as parents, we are respectful of ours students’ other time demands.
  4. Register! After you have established your travel plans, looked over the schedule, and discussed expectations with your student, make sure to indicate the events that each family member plans to attend as nametags (provided) are required. In addition to a nominal registration fee, there is modest charge for most meals. Again, the sooner the better is key as much planning goes into making the weekend go off without a hitch.
  5. Contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement at 909-621-8097 if anyone in your group has special needs or if you have questions.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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Academic Assistance + Executive Skills = Success

CMC’s New Peer Tutoring Program / By KK Streator P’18 P’21

Did you know that 37% of CMC students participated in academic support programs last year? Or that executive function skills, including organization and planning, maintaining focus, and developing stress tolerance generally develop between the ages of 16 to 26? The staff in the Dean of Students Office at CMC does!

These facts were instrumental in the creation of the new student success peer support pilot program, which offers CMC students one-on-one peer tutoring in all subjects, with a corresponding emphasis on working with their peers in developing important executive function skills.

Academic Success Requires Executive Function Skills

In 2018, Associate Dean Susan Layden and the Dean of Students Office (DOS) did a deep dive into researching academic success, exploring what CMC students need to succeed academically. They concluded that while individual peer tutoring across all disciplines is a critical tool for academic success, the development of success strategies and executive function skills is equally essential.

Executive function skills cover a wide range including organizational planning, time management, flexibility, goal-directed persistence, working memory, response inhibition, emotional control, and stress and anxiety management. Numerous outside research studies show that the neural pathways controlling executive functions actually develop between the ages of 16 to 26. In essence, this means that many CMC students have not yet developed the necessary neural pathways whey they arrive on campus. Dean Layden believed CMC could help students by offering “guided practice to help expedite and ease the creation of these new skills and pathways.”

Individual Peer Tutoring For All Subjects

In the past, one-on-one peer tutoring had been restricted to a narrow range of studies at CMC. The Center for Writing and Public Discourse (CWPD) was available, offering individual support for writing and speaking, and the new Quantitative and Computing Lab (QCL) started a similar program for math and computational concepts in the fall, but individual peer tutoring was not available for other subjects. This new support program combines academic assistance in all subjects, via individual peer tutoring, with “guided practice” in executive functions via appointments with new Academic Success Consultants (ASCs). Nine student ASCs were hired for the pilot program to provide students with both academic assistance and personal development support in subjects based on personal academic strengths (economics, PPE, history, etc.). The ASCs work with their “clients” to create a “skills inventory,” assessing current strengths and determining what executive skills need to be bolstered, and at the same time focusing on academic skills like creating a study guides and learning different note-taking formats.

Getting the word out to students is key; they’ve received notices from DOS, their RAs and FYGs (First-year WOA trip guides). Groups such as 1Gen, I-Connect, and the CWPD Fellows are also encouraged to refer students. The ASCs have their bios online so students can choose the best fit and make appointments. Hours are currently geared to late afternoons, evenings and Sundays, but can be expanded to meet demand.

Successful Students Ask For Help

The DOS academic success team wants students to realize that asking for help is a good thing! During orientation this year, messaging focused on academic challenges and the importance of seeking help. “We wanted to make it clear that It’s OK to ask for help,” says Layden, “and that successful people ask for help. Self-initiative is great, but so is team building and network building.“ Students stressing over a low grade or any academic challenge are encouraged to drop by the DOS office to talk to the professional staff of the academic success team. They can quickly discuss whether they need a professional tutor, a group tutor, or an ASC.

As part of the new program, ASCs are encouraged to talk to students about their own academic challenges and how they overcame them with help. As noted earlier, almost 40% of CMC students participated in academic support programs last year, and Dean Layden believes that number could rise to 50% with the new program.

How You Can Help Your Student

When your student calls home and says, “I’m SO tired and SO stressed out,” ask some of the following questions:
“Have you seen the academic success team at DOS?"
“Have you considered getting an individual ASC tutor for the subject(s) you’re worried about?”
“Have you scheduled an appointment with an ASC?”

As Dean Layden says, “We are here to provide links to support. We understand that wellness and anti-anxiety support is just as important as academic effort. The new peer support program is designed to help students recognize issues, deal with them, and then move on.” DOS and the new programs are there to help CMC students achieve academic success and personal development, a winning combination by any definition.

Susan Layden, Associate Dean of Students for Academic Success, can be reached at or 909-607-8307.

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Gaining an Insider’s View

CMC’s Job Shadowing Program / By Georgia Wood '21

Claremont McKenna’s emphasis on “learning for the sake of doing” played a huge role in my decision to attend the College. I really had no idea, however, of what I wanted to do as a career when I began my first year. As summer break approached, I was on the lookout for an opportunity to learn more about a few careers paths that seemed interesting. Luckily, I heard about the job shadowing program through an email and immediately applied through my Handshake account. The process could not have been easier! I submitted my résumé and a short paragraph about my interests, possible career aspirations, and what I was looking for in the experience. Soon I had an opportunity lined up to shadow a CMC parent!

My particular job shadow experience was with Detective Sergeant Miguel Porras P’21 at the Glendale, CA Police Department. I chose this experience because of my interest in forensics and law. One of my career interests is working for the FBI as a profiler, so this seemed perfect as an introduction to the law enforcement field. This experience was incredible as I was able to see just how a police department operates on all levels from a street cop ride-along to forensic crime scene investigation and everything in between.

Detective Sergeant Porras set up two days for me this past summer. One day I went on a ride-along with a police officer, while the day I was able to observe Detective Porras’ specific duties. This included a tour of the Glendale Police Department’s crime laboratory and an opportunity to speak with various forensic technicians and crime scene investigators.

For me, the most amazing part of this job shadow experience was to see the passion with which Detective Sergeant Porras spoke about his work. It was incredible to hear his point of view and to see the work of the Glendale Police Department from someone so caring and invested. I entered CMC as a biology major, but I was unsure if that would help me achieve my goal of working with the FBI. After the opportunity to work with Detective Sergeant Porras, I realized psychology and government were more relevant to the field, and I switched my major soon after.

I would highly recommend the CMC job shadow program to everyone on campus. It is a great way to get an inside and accurate look into a variety of professions, and it is extremely helpful to see what a career looks like outside of the classroom. Students should take advantage of this opportunity!

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Helping Your Student Through Stressful Times

Advice from the Dean of Student’s Office / By Linda Singh P'20

College is a big transition for our students, and it can be challenging for many as they live away from home for the first time, build new friendships, and adjust to the rigors of their academic work. CMC is an elite college, and our students are accomplished and ambitious. As students seek opportunities in selective clubs and organizations and start to consider professional opportunities such as internships and jobs, they shoulder additional pressures and stress. I talked with Jess Neilson, CMC’s Assistant Dean of Students for Health, Wellness, and Case Management about how parents can understand and support students through some of these inevitable situations. <

Q: As parents, we have all lived through helping our kids navigate the highly stressful and competitive process of getting into college. What took me by surprise is how once they get in, the stress and competition don’t end! For many of our students, we have heard their dismay at applying to a club or activity at CMC and not getting in. Can you give us advice on how we can help them through this kind of disappointment?

A: At CMC, there a ton of activities and clubs to connect with and get involved in. The Student Activities Office ( is designed to help connect your students with great extracurricular activities. There are two club fairs a year, one in the fall which is quite big, and a smaller one in the spring. We encourage students to attend every semester - as they progress through school, their interests often change, so it is good to have a fresh look at what is offered. There is also the option to start their own club! What is special about attending a school CMC’s size is there is so much room to create opportunities and fulfill meaningful interests. There is also the added benefit of being able to take advantage of activities throughout the consortium.

Encourage your student to keep looking and keep an open mind. Not getting into that one highly competitive club may seem devastating, but there are so many ways to engage on campus. Rather than focusing on the breadth of involvement, look at the depth of involvement – the more engaged your student is in even one or two things that are meaningful to them, the more connected they are likely to feel to the campus and subsequently may see increased academic and other successes as well.

It can also be helpful to ask your student why a certain activity is so important to them. Sometimes, when students start to really articulate what it is they hope to get out of a particular opportunity, they are able to reframe their thinking to see that there are other ways to accomplish those goals whether or not they take the path of a certain club, organization, research institute, internship, or other experience.

Q: I have learned that CMC has some of the most ambitious, career-oriented kids out there. My daughter became stressed in October of her first year about getting a paid internship that summer! And as a Junior, she is already talking about what jobs she is looking for after graduation. When I tell her to chill, she regales me of her friends’ successes in finding these internships/jobs. Any advice?

A: We hear this all the time. We try as much as possible to normalize the process. There can certainly be stress around the perceived progress of everyone around them. Remind them that although it may seem to them like they are in the slow lane watching others speed by, they are still moving forward. This journey moves at a unique pace for each and every student. Also, it can be helpful to remember that when someone has a success, they share it. When things aren’t going as well, they tend to keep it inside, which means there are plenty of people that might be in their situation that they don’t know about. Securing things like summer internships and jobs does take time and work, so some level of stress is nearly always going to be a natural consequence—it’s what we do to manage that stress that makes a difference.

This brings me to talk about general mental health and well-being. My best advice to parents is to keep talking, stay involved, and stay connected to your student throughout their college experience. This way, you will have a better idea if what they are experiencing is situational stress or something more disruptive that is affecting other areas of their life. Note any changes like not spending time with friends, concerning shifts in their sleeping or eating habits, or declining performance in classes. It is easier to know if things have changed if you have a good sense of what their “normal” is, and that only comes from good, consistent communication. If you do have a concern, encourage them to take advantage of the various resources on campus, including my office. We can help triage what will be useful to help them navigate through the tough times. There are many resources: mental health support, student engagement opportunities, and academic success support.

Here are some names and contact info for more information:

Jess Neilson, Assistant Dean for Health, Wellness, and Case Management,

Susan Layden, Associate Dean of Academic Success, The DOS academic success team is available to support students with various academic strategies including time management, study skills and connection to peer tutors.

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Parent Network Board Meetings

The Parent Network Board meets quarterly to discuss board business and to hear from College leadership. Read the minutes from the October 6, 2018 meeting here.