College parents given voice with new medium

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April 26, 2011

1:38 AM

Parents of students at the College of William and Mary have embraced the connection of the internet with the first post on a new parent’s blog.

The new blog at parents.blogs.wm.edu entered the internet world with its first post by Anne Sharp ’82 on April 11. A product of the Office of Creative Services, Sharp, Director of Parent and Family Giving Dyer Ridley and Associate Director of Development Communications John Wallace, the new blog aims to create conversation among parents of students.

“The idea of the blog is to communicate better and establish lifelong relationships with various groups here,” Wallace said. “Parents are a very unique group in the William and Mary community. It’s important that the group be communicated with and that we give that group a voice at William and Mary.”

At a meeting on Charter Day, Sharp raised the question of how the school communicated with parents. As both an alumna and the parent of a current student, Sharp felt that the lines of communication differed between the groups.

“It’s hard for me to separate what parents hear and what alumni hear,” Sharp said. “I wasn’t aware of what was alumni information and what was parent information. I just didn’t see that much going out to parents. I figured it was something they loved to hear about as well.”

Aided by members of the Office of Creative Services, Ridley and Wallace decided a blog would be one of the most efficient ways to increase parent participation at the College.

“It’s a very accessible form of communication for a whole host of people,” Ridley said. “We’re not inundating people with lots of emails, and it’s accessible for anyone who wants access to it.”

For Sharp, the blog was an opportunity to relate the personal story of the college admissions process she went through with her daughter, Katie Sharp ’14. With the Day for Admitted Students this past weekend, Sharp felt that the creation of the blog was timely.

“I was remembering where we were a year ago,” Sharp said. “For those of us who are not within the College walls, you still hear a lot of news stories, and you read a lot about college admissions. I felt I was being pulled back there by where we were at that time of year.”

Sharp related her personal experience with the admissions process to encourage conversation between parents who had already faced or were preparing to face the process. The blog post has already garnered a significant amount of response from parents, with 15 comments received within the past week alone.

“When I taught journalism, unless someone was really upset about what was written and wrote a letter to the editor, you didn’t hear feedback,” Sharp said. “Other parents and alumni have written in, and now they are telling their story. In a way, I generated a bit of a conversation.”

While it has yet to be decided who can post and when new posts will appear, Ridley and Wallace expressed hopes for the blog to continue to grow and encourage further conversation among parents.

“We’re open to exploring where it takes us,” Ridley said. “We’re not set in stone with who can post. Moving forward, there’s certainly opportunity for it to grow and pursue a full representation of the parent community.”

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