We've had experience with helicoptor parents

Kathleen Volk Miller, writing in Salon, describes the current college culture wonderfully. It's a generational thing, I suspect.

As a professor, I’ve always treated my students as autonomous beings, telling them on the first day of class that I will not follow up with them on missed classes or assignments as other instructors might. It’s my tough love way of getting them to become independent thinkers and to do for themselves.

But I can’t help contrasting that to the way their parents treat them. In Allison’s senior year of high school, parents rolled their eyes over filling out their sons’ and daughters’ college applications, expecting commiseration from me. I smiled and nodded and hoped my face didn’t show the absolute incredulity I felt. Didn’t they see the disservice they were doing their children? Two years later when my daughter Hayley graduated, the situation was worse. Parents would use the word “we” — as in, “We’re looking at Rutgers,” or “We’re thinking he should take a year at community college until we figure out what he should focus on.” My parents didn’t see my college campus until they came to visit. My roommate and I drove ourselves to orientation, and we still laugh remembering how we ended up a state further south, forced to ask a toothless gas station attendant in Virginia where we were.
College is a perfect middle ground for this age group: Students are forced to make their own choices and take responsibility for them, but help and guidance are there if they need it. What I see, though, is that the self-reliance they should be developing is thwarted by parental involvement.


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