U offers wide range of gifts for students

by Jamie VanGeest

Parents might give their college-bound child a coffeemaker or maybe even a Geo Metro with a bow. But some parents of University students literally are giving the gift of education.

The University offers gift certificates for everything from textbooks to Broadway tap dance lessons.

There are a few ways parents can enrich their child’s mind by paying for more than tuition. The University offers gift certificates for minicourses and the College of Continuing Education offers a gift of learning program.

Minicourses are classes open to the public but offered at a reduced rate for students. Classes for spring begin in March and last two to five weeks.

If students have always wanted to correct their two left feet, they can take minicourses in belly dancing and Broadway tap.

For students who want to express their artistic side, they could enroll in a minicourse in photography or improvisational comedy.

The comedy class could be something for those who are or are not interested in theater. Improvisation helps people with their communication and presentation skills, said John Haynes, director of the improvisation school at the Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis.

Through the College of Continuing Education, a person can give what the school calls “the gift of learning” for personal enrichment programs.

Gift certificates start at $25 and can be used for noncredit courses that also are open to the public.

The college offers a program called Compleat Scholar, which offers short courses in arts and humanities, literature and reading, social sciences and history, natural sciences and writing.

The Great Conversations program, also through the College of Continuing Education, is a four-part series featuring discussions with renowned University faculty members.

The college also offers Curiosity Camps, which are one-day excursions from June to August that feature University experts, tours and art events.

The gift of learning program also includes intensive three-day and weeklong workshops in creative writing, visual arts and design taught by practicing artists. These workshops are from June through August on the Twin Cities campus and at the Cloquet Forestry Center in northern Minnesota.

Another option is the Split Rock Arts Program Online, which offers online mentoring where writers can receive constructive criticism to strengthen their writing skills.

Through the University’s Gopher Gifts program, a parent can wish their college student “happy birthday” by having a cake delivered to their child’s residence hall. Parents can even plan a celebration by giving them a bowling party package for Goldy’s Gameroom in Coffman Union.

“We do about two to three cakes a month,” said Judah Ivy, a University Dining Services employee.

If the cake is from parent to child, the delivery fee is waived, he said.

Tina Balestreri’s parents sent a birthday cake to their daughter’s residence hall room last year.

Balestreri, a Spanish sophomore, said she thought the cake was a nice gift, especially since she was a first-year student and her parents live in Milwaukee.

If a student is feeling overwhelmed with the rigors of student life, a parent can purchase a gift certificate for a stress-relieving massage from Boynton Health Service.

Depending on students’ stressors, they can get cranial/sacral massage therapy that works with the flow of spinal fluid and dysfunctions that can develop within the cranial/sacral system. Masseuses can perform four other types of massage as well, said Carol Uchal, an administrative assistant for Boynton Health Service.