Monday, February 3, 2014

Snowplow parents

Would that this news were from The Onion:

“Helicopter parents,” already ubiquitous in undergraduate admissions, are invading the graduate-school process, too, driven by the rising cost of advanced degrees as well as by hard-to-break habits of coddling.

Some of these parents have become so aggressive that they’ve required a new moniker: “snowplow parents,” for their impulse to push obstacles out of their adult children’s way.

“It’s the new norm,” Thomas P. Rock, assistant dean for enrollment services at Columbia University’s Teachers College, says of parents’ involvement in graduate-school admissions. “It’s the Gilmore Girls phenomenon. Moms want to stay best friends with their daughter and all her friends.”

Mr. Rock has fielded calls from more than one set of parents about the status of a student’s application. A few times, when he asked why the student couldn't have called herself, the parent said she was out shopping at the mall.

Parents call Teachers College professors to complain about grades. They descend on weekends set aside for visits by prospective students who have been admitted. One student’s family came dressed in matching plaid Burberry jackets.

“It’s just something we’re not used to,” Mr. Rock said.
The article is behind the paywall: Parents Now Get Themselves Involved in Graduate Admissions, Too (The Chronicle of Higher Education).

[I hadn’t realized how much embarrassment we’ve saved our children.]

comments: 4

Diane Schirf said...

My parents allowed me to go free at 18. They helped me pay for college and expressed concerns when I moved in with two strangers (roommates), but other than that they let me go. I am still grateful for that. I don't understand this (yes, I know I don't have offspring).

Elaine said...

On the other hand, when our son was plainly applying for admission to programs for which he lacked some important prerequisites, I wish we had spoken up more (to him, not to the graduate program folk.) It was a mistake in judgment on his part, and I think it derailed him more than it would have had he had a more reflective nature. If we had actively involved ourselves, perhaps we could have spared him some pain and wasted time.....

Parenthood: ticket to lifelong worry! LOL

Diane Schirf said...

Yes, I think there's a difference between providing guidance, as you suggest, and helicoptering/snowplowing. I could have used some myself (my parents were not high school graduates).

Michael Leddy said...

Same here — I see a great difference between talking to children behind the scenes and calling or visiting campuses or workplaces.