Penn State Parents Program partners with alumnus to pilot new family portal

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Parent and family support is a huge part of student success, especially during the transitional first year. One of the best ways parents can support their student is familiarizing themselves with campus resources to help their student navigate the Penn State journey.

The Penn State Parents Program, an office in Student Affairs, is piloting a new communication portal to engage parents and family members and connect them with the University. The portal, CampusESP, has been available to parents and family members of incoming first-year students since May 2016.

“The parent portal is a great idea,” said Bob Morgan, a Penn State parent and member of the Parents Council. “This is a great way to stay connected, since communication from the kids tends to drop off a bit from year to year.”

CampusESP provides parents with a rich online experience they can personalize. Within the portal, parents can make selections to see the news and information that is relevant to them. They also choose how often to receive communications.

In addition to news, the portal centralizes links and resources about topics such as academics, housing, health and safety, financial aid, and events. When parents have additional questions, they can post comments, which are read and answered daily by the Parents Program staff.

The new portal is exciting for the Parents Program staff because it gives them the opportunity to learn what information interests parents and how families like to be engaged. It also streamlines their efforts by housing everything in one place.

“We want to make sure parents are getting enough information,” said Cynthia Hill, Penn State Parents Program director. “CampusESP helps us to better understand the communication needs and habits of parents and families in order to appropriately engage them in their student’s education.”

Dave Becker, a 1995 Penn State alumnus, founded CampusESP in 2014 to focus on student engagement. After discovering how involved and influential parents are in student success, CampusESP launched the parent portal in 2015.

Penn State is one of about six institutions using CampusESP.

"By working directly with the Penn State Parents Program, we have been able to collect feedback from parents and family members as well as the program staff,” said Becker. “This feedback has helped us refine our solution to better meet the needs of today's modern parent." 

The Penn State EdTech Network is co-sponsoring this pilot with the Penn State Parents Program. The relationship with CampusESP developed as a result of the Penn State EdTech Network’s partnership with Dreamit, which focuses on promoting active collaboration among companies, students, faculty, staff and alumni to foster transformational education technology. The Penn State Ed Tech Network is a part of President Eric Barron’s Invent Penn State initiative.

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Last Updated April 19, 2017