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“Helicopter” Parents at Orientation

On July 14, 2005, Jeremy Beeler of Warren County Community College addressed the list with a request for literature/pamphlets related to parent adjustment issues. The books Partnering with the Parents of Today's College Students , Ready or Not Here Life Comes , and Navigating the Research University were suggested, as were the articles “A Nation of Wimps” from Psychology Today, and “Parent Trap” from The Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as a number of resources from the National Resource Center (publications and conference materials). Overall, the respondent’s main message was that, rather than pushing the parents out of the advisement process, as the Chronicle article suggests, that institutions should include and partner with parents by providing them with information on majors, requirements, and policies so they can help their children make good decisions about which classes to take and support them through the transition. Additionally, two programs, “Your Student’s First Year” and “Parents in Transition”, developed by Britt Andreatta for the University of California, Santa Barbara’s orientation program, were described in great detail, and offer examples of how to carry out this task of including parents as their students’ move on to college.

Jeremy Beeler (read FYE-post or send email) jbeeler@WARREN.EDU
John Lowery (read FYE-post or send email) jlowery@GWM.SC.EDU
Terri Mathews (read FYE-post or send email) tmmathew@ODU.EDU
Stacy Deery (read FYE-post or send email) smd47@CORNELL.EDU
Braelin Pantel (read FYE-post or send email) BPantel@RMCAD.EDU
Brad Cox (read FYE-post or send email) Coxbe@GWM.SC.EDU
Brad Cox (read FYE-post)
Barry Gregory (read FYE-post or send email) doctorgregory@BELLSOUTH.NET
Melody Kilcrease (read FYE-post or send email) kilcreas@MAIL.SDSU.EDU
Terri Mathews (read FYE-post)
Kevin Corcoran (read FYE-post or send email) CORCORKJ@UCMAIL.UC.EDU
Sandra Fowler (read FYE-post or send email) sfowler@JUDSON.EDU
Jim Calliotte (read FYE-post or send email) jcalliot@ODU.EDU
Paddy Kennington (read FYE-post or send email) paddy.kennington@VPSS.GATECH.EDU
Britt Andreatta (read FYE-post or send email) Britt.Andreatta@SA.UCSB.EDU
Laurie Hazard (read FYE-post or send email) lhazard@BRYANT.EDU
Britt Andreatta (read FYE-post)

Article


July 14, 2005 2:48PM
Original Message: Parent Transition Literature related to Academic Advising

From my experience, parents seem to continually play an increasingly obtrusive role in the first year academic advising and registration of their daughters and sons. I'm looking for any existing literature and in particular pamphlets related to parent adjustment issues. I'm particularly concerned about their negative impact on the student's ability to develop a sense of autonomy, but I'd also like to include information for parents about FERPA, along with frequently asked questions such as accreditation, persistence, transfer issues, advising, etc. If any of you have anything like this currently and would be willing to share, I would greatly appreciate it! (I am particularly interested in hearing from those of you at community colleges!)

Jeremy L. Beeler, M.Ed.
Coordinator of Student Development & Registration
Warren County Community College
http://www.warren.edu/
475 Route 57 West
Washington , NJ 07882 -9605
(908) 835-2301
(908) 689-5822 (fax)


July 14, 2005 3:08PM
Re: Parent Transition Literature related to Academic Advising

The following book might prove useful:

Partnering with the Parents of Today's College Students NASPA-046
Edited by Kurt Keppler, Richard H. Mullendore & Anna Carey

Detailed Description
ISBN: 0-931654-35-1

Partnering with the Parents of Today's College Students offers student affairs professionals, as well as all faculty and college and university administrators, a complete and integrated approach to working with parents. The parents of today' students interact with college staff and faculty much more frequently and for different reasons than previous generations. Providing opportunities for parents to participate in the college experience can pay huge dividends in terms of increased student success, institutional financial support, and enhanced public relations.

This NASPA publication is written by student affairs practitioners who possess a wealth of knowledge about today's parents and contains information on demographic perspectives, developmental issues, parent programming, problem solving, legal issues, best practices, and a literature review.

Available on-line though www.naspa.org

John Wesley Lowery, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Higher Education and Student Affairs
University of South Carolina
Wardlaw College , Suite 310
Columbia , SC 29208
803-777-4158 office
803-777-3090 fax
mailto:jlowery@gwm.sc.edu
Program Page: http://www.ed.sc.edu/edlp/hesa.asp
E-card: http://iris.sc.edu/ecard.asp?ID=1359


July 15, 2005 7:18AM
Re: Parent Transition Literature related to Academic Advising

At Old Dominion University we have taken a different approach to parent intrusion. We make an effort to give them information, tell them what the student needs to do in order to be successful, discuss major choices, degree requirements and essentially give them everything that the students get during orientation. What the College of Sciences has found over the last 2 years is that they become our allies in advising. Parents are going to be intrusive anyway so if you invite them into the process and educate them on advising practices and degree requirements then they will encourage their sons and daughters to adopt the "good student" attitudes and attributes that we would like to see in all students.

At orientation we give them a refrigerator magnet entitled "The top ten questions to ask your student" to encourage dialog between parents and students that promotes success tips. I have attached a copy for anyone who is interested.

We also give them a detailed handbook so that as they intrude into their students’ academic life they are coming from an informed position.

We can't stop parents from being intrusive so why not get them to give students the advice we would give them ourselves?

Terri M. Mathews
Assistant Dean, College of Sciences
Old Dominion University
OCNPS 135
757-683-5201
Fax # 757-683-3034
tmmathew@odu.edu


July 15, 2005 10:05AM
Parent Transition Literature related to Academic Advising

Hi Jeremy and list,

This article entitled "A Nation of Wimps" from the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of Psychology Today is sometimes helpful to actually share with parents with whom you are spending a good amount of time. Ask them to read it and share what they think with you.

http://cms.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20041112-000010.html

Stacy M. Deery
Residence Hall Director
106B Court Hall
Cornell University
fax 607.255.2192
office 607.254.2325


July 15, 2005 9:08AM
Re: Parent Transition Literature related to Academic Advising

Terri,

Thanks so much for passing your questions along to the list- the magnet idea is a great one! At Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design we create a Parent Guide that details our programs and services for students (both academic and student affairs). Throughout the guide, questions in the voice of parent-to-student conversation are highlighted, with the idea being that the parents will learn about what we offer in terms of advising, support services, student activities, etc., and then ask their student the questions throughout the guide to engage them in conversation about the various topics. We too want to partner with our students' parents to best support the student and believe that proving our parents with some guidance in how to support their student during their time at the College is important! Email me at this address if you would like more information.

Braelin Pantel
Director of Student Activities + Assistant Dean of Students
Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design
1600 Pierce Street
Lakewood , CO 80214
www.rmcad.edu
mailto:bpantel@rmcad.edu
303.753.6046 (phone)
303.759.4970 (fax)


July 15, 2005 1:50PM
Re: Parent Transition Literature related to Academic Advising

Braelin, Terri, and others wondering how to involve parents in the initial stages of a college student's first-year:

The topic of parent involvement in their students' college lives has come up quite frequently as of late. Though I can propose no direct solution myself, I can suggest a number of other resources that may be of interest.

A) The Center has also teamed up with NACADA and NODA to produce two guides for parents/families.

1) "A family guide to academic advising" by Donald Smith and Virginia

Gordon is a joint project of the Center and NACADA. This guide promotes the importance of academic advising, describes the advising process, and offers specific suggestions for how parents can appropriately assist their students. Unique to this guide is a series of specific suggested actions that collectively form a checklist for proper family involvement.

2) "Helping your first-year college student succeed: A guide for parents" by Dick Mullendore and Cathie Hatch is a joint project of the Center and NODA. The guide helps parents understand the experiences of their students, and offers suggestions for how to appropriately work with their college-going sons and daughters. One of the unique features of this guide are the comparisons between the students' and the parents' perspective on different issues of college life.

Either or both of these guides can be given to parents either at or before orientation. Visit

http://www.sc.edu/fye/publications/bb/index.html for more information.

B) Our annual conference in Phoenix included several presentations that addressed the parent involvement issue. Three particular programs come to mind:

1) "Student Success and Parental Involvement: Helping Parents Move From Rescuer to Mentor" by Wanda Ingram

2) "Managing Millenial Parents" by Elizabeth True and Philip Conroy

3) "Letting Go or Holding Tight?: Parents' Expectations for Involvement With Their First-Year College Students" by Phyllis Miller.

You can find the abstracts at http://www.sc.edu/fye/events/archive/pdf/2005Summaries.pdf and the handouts/slides for the Miller & True/Conroy presentations at http://www.sc.edu/fye/events/presentation/international2005/index.html

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about these resources.

Brad

Bradley E. Cox
Coordinator of Research and Public Information
National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition
University of South Carolina
1728 College St .
Columbia , SC 29208
mailto:bradcox@sc.edu
(803) 777-6225
www.sc.edu/fye


July 18, 2005 2:22PM
Chronicle article on "helicopter" parents at orientation

It appears as though the Chronicle, like the FYE-List, is wondering how to deal with "helicopter" parents. Student "bouncers" are used at University of Vermont. Check out the short article at

http://chronicle.com/prm/weekly/v51/i46/46a00401.htm

Brad

Bradley E. Cox
Coordinator of Research and Public Information
National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition
University of South Carolina
1728 College St .
Columbia , SC 29208
mailto:bradcox@sc.edu
(803) 777-6225
www.sc.edu/fye


July 18, 2005 9:41AM
Parents as Parents

FYE Colleagues,

We I have worked we have developed programs where we consider parents as partners. Instead of looking as parents as obtrusive, we have tried to partner with them. A great new book to help us understand both students and parents is Dr. Levine's book "Ready or Not Here Life Comes. There is also some interesting new research on Overindulged Children for those wanting to better understand today's parenting styles. Adlerian psychologists also offer much useful information on the effects of parenting styles on learning and student motivation.

Dr. Barry M. Gregory
Associate Dean
Lynn University


July 18, 2005 10:32AM
Re: Response to Chronicle article on "helicopter" parents

Hello,

I have just completed the article referenced earlier today about "helicopter" parents, and I do think this is a good topic for discussion among us, and maybe more study. I would like to make some observations and hope that others will add theirs as well. Like most of us on this list, I work on the "front lines," to use what seems to be the dominant rhetoric around this topic, during Orientation. I work at a large public institution that accepts some 4000+ first-year students every fall, and offers a one-day academic orientation that prepares students to register for their classes. We too have seen an increasing amount of parent participation in the academic orientation process, and we have met it by developing our Aztec Parents program. From a program director's perspective, and from that of most of the academic administrators I know here, this increased participation is a benefit for most of our students as they begin the transition to life away from home.

Our primary approach has been to offer parents who attend our New Student and Parent Orientations a full day of informative presentations, Q&A sessions, and panel discussions---some with returning students, some with faculty and academic deans, some with Student Affairs directors and staff. Students and parents share the Welcome session in the morning, then break up into separate sessions, share lunch and an info fair, then break up again for their afternoon sessions.

Throughout the day we see parents and students sharing information that they have learned in their sessions, comparing notes and seeking out more information about interesting programs and activities during the Info-fair, including our first-year programs designed to help students continue that transition and take informed responsibility for their education. Instead of same-day registration, students are offered an orientation to the on-line registration process, allowed time to develop a "wish list" from the current class schedule, and then sent home to register for their classes the next day.

If parents and students want to discuss their final choices, there is time to do this within their own family discussions, based upon their own family dynamic. Certainly at an institution this large we see every kind of family arrangement. But we do not assume that it is our job to dictate to the family how they should or should not be interacting with their student. At the same time, we impress upon the family members that we take our guidance from the FERPA rules in determining how we can interact with them about their student.

But of greater importance to us than whether our students' efforts to learn about their academic requirements and options are "hampered" by the parents, is our need to be sure students understand those requirements and options and do not unwittingly sign up for classes that will not further their own goals. Because of the nature of our institution and its mission, our class schedule is huge and full of qualifying footnotes, our major, GE and graduation requirements are complex, and our ability to give each student individualized attention and advising during the one day orientation is quite limited. We are doing what we can to take advantage of what we see among our first-year students---the same thing William Strauss notices in his research: "students who have closer relationships with their parents." I'm not sure that's such a bad thing for 18-year olds in 2005, especially with the financial and security concerns of families with first-year college students. I'd also like to note that Ward-Roof from Clemson observed students asking their parents advise while registering. Why should they not ask their parents, most of whom have also gone to college, especially the first time they go through this registration process? Why should "advice" from a peer or a counselor be the only voice they hear on the matter?

We (the state of California, its taxpayers, and the administration of the CSU) are eager to have our students in the right courses for their majors or introductory courses that can prepare them to choose a major. Our research indicates that a significant number of our first-year students, either because they did not have the assistance they needed or chose not to take advantage of it, were not registering for their required classes or for introductory classes, a practice that invariably led to poor performance because of lack of preparation, longer periods of time to graduate, along with added expense and significant lost wages (all issues with which we in FYE address after students begin their first semester).

To address the first problem, we have set up our on-line registration program to force students to register for their required courses before choosing any others. To address the second, we have recently instituted personalized Major Academic Plans, given to each student at Orientation, that show them how to complete their GE and Prep for the major courses in the first two years---thus putting them on track for a four-year graduation goal.

Of course, students are not bound by these plans, merely shown how their major can be attained without taking courses out of sequence or time spent on units that will not count for what they have stated are their academic goals. Rather than try to keep parents out of their students' decision making processes, we assume parents will take some role and give the family as many tools as possible to help make those decisions with accurate and useful information. We have also found that most of this parent involvement with student decision making falls off sharply after the first semester, when students are better prepared to make their class selections. Again, we don't see that what happens within their families is our business.

We have found that including the parents in the Orientation, assuming they will be partners in their students' transition process, and informing them in ways that can help them if they choose to take that role, has led to better informed students and another campus auxiliary group (Aztec Parents) to which we can turn for financial, legislative, and programmatic support. We have determined that rather than resist what we know is a national trend, we can turn it to an advantage for the students, the involved families, and our shared goals for student success, retention and graduation.

On a personal note, I have a very negative response to the idea (and even the title) of a "bouncer" program. For one thing, it seems quite disrespectful; secondly, it seems counterproductive. Why not take advantage of the renewed level of connection among students and parents, and offer parents coaching on how best to work with their students in this transition time? After all, the transition is not about students cutting themselves off from their families, it's about moving into a more mature relationship. I'm not for shooting down those helicopters; I want to insure they are on our side. We and the students need all the support we can get.

Melody Kilcrease, Director
Thomas B. Day Freshman Success Programs
Division of Undergraduate Studies
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr .
San Diego , California 92182
(619)594-0419


July 19, 2005 8:43AM
Re: Response to Chronicle article on "helicopter" parents

I would like to compliment Melody Kilcrease on her response. The student-parent dynamic is very different today. Students WANT their parents involved. At Old Dominion in the College of Sciences we too invite parents into the process. They are going to be involved so why not arm them with information on academics and success strategies that they can discuss with their students? This approach has been very positive for us. Also by giving the parents information they come to trust that we will give their students good advice and their anxiety level drops.

True, we do get parents who want to go to the advising sessions. I simply explain that there is no room in the computer lab but that students may review their registration with their parents once they get home. For truly anxious parents I offer to meet with them individually. I have yet had one take me up on that offer but they do appreciate the offer.

In the 70's and 80's students did not want their parents involved and schools did not want parents involved and all was fine. Today students want their parents' input and parents want to be involved. Why are we as institutions bucking that trend and making the process stressful for the students and parents? The students have plenty of time to learn to become autonomous once they get on campus.

Thanks Melody for your response!

Terri M. Mathews
Assistant Dean, College of Sciences
OCNPS 135
Old Dominion University
757-683-5201
Fax # 757-683-3034
tmmathew@odu.edu


July 19, 2005 9:31AM
Re: Parents as Parents

I must confess that I am on the academic side of things (and not a college parent), but I have to say that I agree with Dr. Gregory-partner with interested and engaged parents...and am a bit perplexed by the pejorative term "helicopter (as in hovering) parent"....when parents are uninvolved (e.g., don't show up at an orientation), we tend to make negative judgments

about them ("don't they care?"), now we make judgments about "over involved" (for wanting to have some input in their offspring's course selection) Sure, it is a hassle for us, but those parents want the best for their kids, are typically paying a large chunk of a substantial tuition bill, AND they will be headed home soon enough....let's show some understanding....

Kevin Corcoran
Professor of Psychology
University of Cincinnati


July 19, 2005 10:29AM
Re: Response to Chronicle article on "helicopter" parents

Reflective of our state demographics, a large percentage of our students are still first generation. Some of the parents are very supportive, but don't know what their children are going to experience and don't know how to help. Several years ago, I purchased a video of a parent orientation session from Britt Andreatta (who appears on this list from time to time) and customized it for our parents. It includes Issues that might arise and how the parents can help. They seem appreciative of the guidance. Those who attended college themselves are my "Amen corner."

As the first year proceeds, we are small enough that we get to know our students very deeply and very quickly by reviewing with them results from the Noel-Levitz College Student Inventory, which they took during the summer. This instrument asks questions that show family emotional support. Sometimes I discover things that make me WISH for a parent who is interested. Sometimes I even want to adopt the kids myself.

As a student development professional who happens to be a parent of a student (who is now in his third-year), I struggled to find a balance on when to speak up and when to let stuff happen. Hopefully, I learned enough through years of experience with parents--both the over-involved and the negligent--how to behave myself. I think we need to remember that the "helicopters" do not have the advantage of our knowledge and experience. Melody and Terri, I'm in agreement with you. After all, the parents are going through their own transition. If you have the luxury of their attendance at orientation, tell them how they can help.

Sandra Fowler

Dean of Student Development
Judson College
P. O. Box 120
Marion , AL 36756
Telephone: 334-683-5171
Fax: 334-683-5158
Email: sfowler@judson.edu


July 19, 2005 11:08AM
Re: Parents as Parents

The very fact that parental involvement level is bringing about this spirited discussion on the list says that something different is going on.

I don't think anyone would say that the level of "interest" among parents in their student's activities is the same as it was just a few years ago. There are, as has been mentioned often, more than a couple of good reasons for this. One, child rearing styles by this generation of parents is much different than in previous generations. Children’s' lives are highly organized and parents have been making "arrangements" for them since preschool. Second, communication between parent and child has changed dramatically since the coming of the now ubiquitous cell phone. Third, college costs a great deal more than it ever has and it is a major investment for parents. Anyone can understand why they would want to insure that it is money well, and efficiently, spent.

But, all of this sets up a potential clash when students arrive at college. Since the early 70's colleges have consciously subscribed to the notion that student development is a critical aspect of their role, along with cognitive development and student learning. The work of Chickering and others has delineated the developmental tasks of the college student, and services and programs have been designed to assist students to achieve higher levels of personal development during the college years. The pivotal vector in Chickering's model is the move to interdependence. While we decry the lack of involvement among some parents, we need to be equally vigilant of over involvement. Either too little or too much of a good thing will thwart development. Balance is the key.

Orientation is the only time when we have all parties present for an intensive amount of time. If we miss the opportunity to educate parents about the critical role they must now play in their child's continued development we will have missed the best chance we have. At Old Dominion, we have had a parents orientation since before my time here (27 years now), and we have continually evolved the program to meet the changing needs of both students and parents. We have been doing a workshop for parents on Chickering's developmental tasks since the late 70's (I believe we may have been the first to do so). We make it fun as well as informative and most parents come away (from this as well as other orientation experiences as this is the underlying theme to virtually all our presentations over the two days) with a revised conception of their role (I even regularly hear them lecturing other parents when they are making "over involved" statements.

Simply barring the door to parents doesn't fulfill our role as educators, but neither does letting them continue to be over involved and hoping it will change over the coming years.

Dr. Jim Calliotte
Director, Counseling & Advising Services
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va. 23529
Phone: 757-683-4223 Fax: 757-683-3565
email: jcalliot@odu.edu


July 19, 2005 11:38AM
Re: Parents as Parents

Thanks Jessica for your perspective. I realize it may sound pejorative to be so "negative" about hovering parents. Believe me some parenting styles do no service to sons and daughters by making decisions for them. In career fields and in life in general, where critical thinking skills are so necessary, students who have come to expect others to tell them what to do most of the time are at a definite disadvantage. That first step from diving board to empty pool is often cruel. I coordinate and teach our freshmen seminar and I have seen students change much in the past few years. I worry about them and how they will manage in a less and less forgiving world not to mention competitive vigor. I agree that parents need to be involved; I don't agree with parenting practices that do not allow for failure, experimentation, and respect for a person's need to grow mentally and emotionally as well as intellectually. I have had too many students in my office who berate themselves for being less than perfect.

Thanks for balanced views on a complex and often paradoxical issue.

Paddy Kennington, Ph.D.
Georgia Institute of Technology


August 1, 2005 1:44PM
Re: Response to Chronicle article on "helicopter" parents

Thanks for the acknowledgement Sandra. At our orientation, we now have two workshops that help parents make this transition — one is the "Your Student's First Year" workshop that Sandra mentioned and details the kinds of experiences that the student will face during the first year (academically, socially, personally, etc.) with specific suggestions ("how to") for parents that supports the development and independence of the student. Many parents just don't know how to let go so we get specific. The parents have really loved this workshop and we now sell copies on DVD for those who want to refer to it again throughout the year or who have spouses/partners who could not attend.

The second workshop is called "Parents in Transition" and walks parents through a 5-stage model of the adolescent/parent separation process. We use movie clips to illustrate each stage and find that parents really appreciate knowing the understanding what separation can and does look like. And that it's healthy!

We find that the two workshops together go a long way in helping our parents see the value in empowering their student rather than taking care of things for them. Our EOP office, who works with low-income and first-generation families, provides similar family workshops in a few languages during sessions they do for EOP students and families.

Both workshops have been videotaped and are available on DVD with complete materials. To date, about 300 colleges and universities have purchased the DVDs and adopted one or both presentations to their campus and then customized them for their specific institution and student/parent populations.

Email me directly at britt.andreatta@sa.ucsb.eduif you'd like information on ordering either of these parent workshops.

Finally, the other part of the equation of this parental behavior is the students and their expectations of their parents to help/rescue them. The students ALSO need this information since they need to step up to more responsibility and not make inappropriate requests of their parents. We address this issue with the students during orientation and the material from both of these workshops is included in the freshman experience course that I teach. It is also detailed in the book "Navigating the Research University" (published by Thomson).

Take care,

Britt

Britt Andreatta, Ph.D.
Director of First Year Programs & Leadership Education
UCSB Office of Student Life (2201 SAASB)
Santa Barbara , CA 93106
PH: (805) 893-8290
Author of "Navigating the Research University" (by Thomson)
FX: (805) 893-7005


August 2, 2005 11:42AM
Re: Response to Chronicle article on "helicopter" parents

Any information on the 5-stage model would be helpful. What theorist's model is it? My faculty would love to see it.

Thanks,

Laurie Hazard
Assistant to the Director of Records and Registration
Bryant University


August 2, 2005 8:16PM
Re: Response to Chronicle article on "helicopter" parents

Hi Laurie -

Attached are descriptions and order forms for both parent workshops. The model is by Bloom and the citation is:

Bloom, M.V. (1980). Adolescent-parental separation. New York: Gardner Press, Inc.

I also describe the model in Chapter 4 of my book if you want an abridged version that is already adapted to the college environment (Navigating the Research University, published by Thomson).

Take care,

Britt

Britt Andreatta, Ph.D.
Director of First-Year Programs & Leadership Education
Author of "Navigating the Research University: A Guide for First-Year Students"
UCSB Office of Student Life (2201 SAASB)
Santa Barbara , CA 93106-5010
PH: (805) 893-8290
FX: (805) 893-7005


Chronicle article on "helicopter" parents at orientation

http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i46/46a00401.htm

From the issue dated July 22, 2005

Parent Trap

By ERIC WILLS

College administrators call them "helicopter parents" and say their numbers are on the rise: moms and dads who persistently hover around their children during orientation, hampering efforts to help new students begin the transition to life away from home.

The University of Vermont decided to do something about those well-meaning troublemakers: hire "parent bouncers." The bouncers, who are students, delicately keep parents at bay during orientation sessions as incoming students consult with academic advisers or participate in panel discussions about alcohol and sex.

"We schedule our student bouncers to be at a variety of different distances from the target location," says Dani M. Comey, director of Vermont's orientation program, sounding more like a four-star general than a university official. "I'm the last line of defense."

Colleges around the country have made similar fortifications to keep parents in line as their students take the first tentative steps toward independence. The goal, according to Kurt J. Keppler, president of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, is to get families "involved in the college experience in a positive way."

Vermont began to feel increasing pressure from helicopter parents about six or seven years ago, says Ms. Comey. At the time, the university's orientation had separate sessions for parents and students. Parents learned about the fine print on the housing contract, for example, while students discussed what to do if their roommate was an alcoholic. When parents began to lobby for more interaction with their kids, the university scheduled joint meals during the day. It also started the bouncer program.

Students who want the job must survive a rigorous selection process that includes two interviews and a written application. About one in three makes the cut. Those who are accepted learn about university policies, as well as the intricacies of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the federal law that protects the privacy of student records. They also participate in role-playing exercises that hone the art of attentive listening and empathy, two skills that help relax stressed parents.

Shir Moscovitz, a rising sophomore at Vermont, stood guard in front of the university's library during this summer's orientation. He didn't need to "bounce" anyone. Instead he chatted with parents and directed them to a tent where there was free coffee.

One father did make it to the last line of defense this summer. "They are quite good," says Ms. Comey of her bouncers, "so you know he was a tough nut to crack." The father was adamant that he would register for classes with his son and refused to back down. He said that "we" – he and his son -- would balance art classes with business offerings. Ms. Comey calmed him down and grabbed an academic adviser to join the conversation. The son registered on his own and emerged with a schedule that had art courses and one in economics.

The University of California at Santa Barbara employs a similar strategy, using orientation staff to keep parents at bay when new students choose classes. Carolyn Buford, associate dean of students at the university, says communication is important. For example, she says, "We explain to parents that a course on vampire literature does meet a requirement."

Megan Gallagher, a rising senior and student coordinator at Santa Barbara's orientation for the last three years, thinks that the helicopter parents have gotten worse during her tenure. "Parents want to hang on to students, and students kind of want their parents to be there, too," she says.

Indeed, William Strauss, one of the authors of Millenials Go to College, which explores the new generation of college students, says that polls indicate students have closer relationships with their parents than did previous generations. Students sometimes even use their cellphones as

they register for classes to ask their parents' advice, says Jeanine A. Ward-Roof, director of student-development services at Clemson University. "Talk about a hovering factor," she says.

Part of Clemson's strategy is to recruit parents at orientation who return the following year and share their experiences. "We can no longer think just about the student," says Ms. Ward-Roof. "It's the whole family that's involved."

http://www.chronicle.com

Section: Short Subjects

Volume 51, Issue 46, Page A4

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Copyright (c) 2005 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

 


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