Colleges Ward Off Overinvolved Parents

A number of colleges and universities are having to assign full-time staffers or forming entire new departments to field parents’ calls and email. Others hold separate orientations for parents, partly to keep them occupied and away from student sessions.

The University of Vermont employs “parent bouncers,” students trained to divert moms and dads who try to attend registration and explain diplomatically that they’re not invited. At one parent-student orientation session in June, more parents than students attended, swamping the meeting hall, says Jill Hoppenjans, the university’s assistant director of orientation.

At the University of Georgia, students who get frustrated or confused during registration have been known to interrupt their advisers to whip out a cellphone, speed-dial their parents and hand the phone to the adviser, saying, “Here, talk to my mom,” says Richard Mullendore, a University of Georgia professor and former vice president, student affairs, at the universities of Georgia and Mississippi. The cellphone, he says, has become “the world’s longest umbilical cord.” —Sue ShellenbargerColleges Ward Off Overinvolved Parents (Career Journal)

This year, SHU has separate orientation schedules for parents and students. The parents are welcome at a general Q and A session (where I made a promising contact with a parent who works for ABC News). Then the students come for one-on-one advising sessions.

In the past, I think my ability to advise has occasionally benefited from the fact that I had actually seen some parental pressuring going on during the advising session.

Reading this article has made me reflect. Am I too quick to blame high school teachers when new freshmen show up in class expecting me to hand then the “right answers” on a silver platter? It’s not just the teachers who are carefully scrubbing all conflict and uncertainty out of their lives.

At SHU we get a high percentage of students who are the first in their families ever to go to college. This means that the parents may simply not know how important it is for their children to get things done themselves.