Dear Parents and Families,

It is with mixed emotions that we bring our children to college. We are thrilled to see them embark on this great adventure but anxious, too, about the unknown: Will they do well in their classes? Will they make friends? Will they be safe? Be happy? We are so pleased that they are finally off to college, that end for which they have been preparing for so long, but now that the time has come, it can be hard to see them go. 

As parents and family members, you will have many questions about the opportunities as well as the challenges your students will face. This web site will help you answer many of those questions, including topics from incoming-student orientation to graduation. It addresses the basics of academic life at the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as social, financial and career planning issues. We hope it covers most of your concerns. It also tells you whom to call for more information, if you have further questions.

Your students come to Penn full of talent, ambition and enthusiasm, and we are delighted to welcome them. As faculty and staff our mission is to help them realize their dreams. We encourage them to explore, to take chances, and to make the most of the extraordinary educational opportunities they will find at Penn and in Philadelphia.

But we also know—and we tell them this—that students must shape their own education. Our students learn best by challenging themselves or following unfamiliar paths, and sometimes by making mistakes. They need to do this on their own, once they have been provided with the best guidance we can give them. A letter from Terry and Peter Conn offers a helpful perspective on “Letting Go,” gained from their experience as both parents and Penn teachers and advisors.

I hope we have a chance to meet at New Student Orientation or Family Weekend. I’ll write to you from time to time in the next four years as your sons and daughters finds their way from the first anxious days at Penn to that glorious march down Locust Walk for Commencement.


Paul Sniegowski
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences