Classes Resume: A Message from the Deans to Parents


A message to parents to convey our empathy and concern, and to prepare you for what lies ahead for your student.

Dear Parents:

Earlier today, we wrote to Oxy students with a few words of support and guidance as they embark on the remainder of the spring semester under conditions of social distancing and remote learning. We know that this situation has upended our students’ lives, and by extension, their families’ lives as well. As parents of college students ourselves, we too are experiencing these disruptions alongside all of you. So we know how painful this is, especially for parents of seniors. The final weeks of this semester will clearly not unfold the way you or your student imagined it would. Know that the College is committed to not only helping them meet their graduation requirements, but also how to properly honor the graduating class should traditional Commencement not be possible.

We’re reaching out to you directly, both to convey our empathy and concern, and to prepare you for what lies ahead for your student.

Although the communal residential component is a large part of an Occidental education, we will continue to deliver the academic program. Our faculty have worked to adapt the curriculum department by department, and course by course, to allow our students to continue their education remotely. We know that some aspects of courses will translate better than others to a remote format, but we are confident that our faculty have plans in place to permit them to meet most, if not all, of their learning goals for their courses for the remainder of the semester.

In addition, students will continue to have access to all of Oxy’s academic and student support services. The Writing Center, Academic Mastery Program, Peer Learning Program, Scientific Scholars Achievement Program, the Advising Center, pre-health advising, pre-law advising, fellowships advising, the Dean of Students office, student success coaching, health and wellness support, Disability Services, and the resources of the Library and the Hameetman Career Center will continue to be available in a remote format. Planning is underway for virtual workshops that will offer support such as academic coaching, skill-building, time management, and related skills. Please encourage your student to take full advantage of the support and services that Oxy has to offer.

We offer the following words of advice as your student navigates this new territory:

  • It will take a while for your student to adjust to living at home full-time again. We encourage you to be patient.
  • Please keep in mind that your student will be busy. A typical student at Oxy may spend 30-40 hours a week on their studies. It’s a lot like a full-time job.
  • Your student will need to develop a routine and schedule that they will need to stick to for class work they need to complete—please be as accommodating as possible.
  • Even before the current pandemic, the Oxy community has experienced an incredibly painful semester given the loss of two of our students. Many students are still grieving those losses and now, on top of that, they are stressed and grieving the loss of their community of friends, spring sports seasons, performing in DancePro, participating in clubs and other activities dear to them. The stress will be magnified by the challenge of navigating their academics in an unfamiliar remote learning system. Please allow them some time and space to “wrap their heads around” the abrupt and sudden changes.
  • This one can be the hardest: they’re not in high school anymore. They’ve learned to function independently. Resist the urge to remind or nag. Try to consider them as “emerging adults.” We all want your student to develop autonomy, independence, and confidence.
  • You may have forgotten how late your student stays up at night, or how late they will sleep in (if they don’t have class). It will help with the transition to try to accommodate a lifestyle that has worked for your student.
  • Please encourage them to practice social distancing and discourage them from getting together (in person) with their college and high school friends.
  • Please remind your student that all of the academic and personal support resources that are available on campus remain available, albeit remotely. We will continue to communicate and update your students regularly about new offerings and how we are adapting our support initiatives.

You are all a part of the larger Oxy family. We know that you may still have questions. We will continue to keep you informed, and you can feel free to reach out to our offices for help. In the meantime, stay healthy, stay well, and stay connected with us.

Best,

Dean Sternberg and Dean Flot

Wendy Sternberg, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College
Rob Flot, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students