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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

The ultimate helicopter mom -- college admissions category

By Valerie Strauss

Teege Mettille, assistant admissions director at Lawrence University in Wisconsin shared this story about the ultimate helicopter mother with colleagues on the e-list of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Mettille gave me permission to share it with you.

Here's Mettille's email:

The whir of helicopter blades seems to be getting louder and louder....

I just finished scheduling an interview with a student. The mother was the one that called, which I’ve gotten used to. It sounded to me like she was forcing her son to have this interview despite his interest in doing a million other things. However, something strange happened at the end of the call. After I mentioned how excited I was to meet her student, she said....

“Wait.... he doesn’t need to be here for this, does he?”

Has it already come to this?

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | February 4, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  College Admissions, Parents  | Tags:  admissions process, application process, college admissions, college applications, college interviews, helicopter mothers, helicopter parents, student interviews  
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Comments

Her answer should have been "No and I highly advise you against appearing as well."

At the point a youngster is ready for college, they are in many cases, legally adults. If Mom and Dad want to pay for college, they do so at their own trust in the youngster. We must stop considering them as children at this point.

At what point are we going to stop referring to high school graduates as kids, children, or teenagers? Technically a parent will consider them all of the above. Just realize when you use those terms you wrap the youngster in a cocoon of dependency.

I recall my late father in law calling me boy well into my twenties and more than 5 years in the military. I spoke out about it and he said, "to me you will always be boy." The oddest thing happened...he never referred to me as boy again. At some point they need to know they are young men and women...anything less causes that cocoon to reappear.

Posted by: jbeeler | February 4, 2011 8:31 AM | Report abuse

A fellow high school teacher also teaches a course at the local college. He told me helicopter parents continue in college--he has a mother who calls him weekly about her son. I was amazed that he had to talk to her, but apparently the son had signed a permission slip, and my colleague is required by the administration to respond to the woman. I assume that after graduation, she'll want weekly reports from her son's new boss, to ensure the boy is going to get timely promotions.

Posted by: pattipeg1 | February 4, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

My kid is a senior and he did his own applications and in fact, he wouldn't tell me his log ins for the colleges he applied to. We helped when he asked for it (e.g. reviewing his essays for errors, took him to visit colleges, when he asked for advice on where to apply). I was shocked to find out that a lot of parents DO their kids applications and essays. And I understand there is a whole industry of people who will do all of this for your kid. So essentially, my son is competing against middle age people who I assume can put together a better application than he might be able to do. The only consolation is that my son will thrive on his own. These other kids, who knows.

Posted by: commentator3 | February 4, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Our historical society did a program on the history of the local schools. Before high school was common, students who had completed the 8th grade and wanted to study more advanced subjects made their own arrangements with a teacher in the area, picked a time and a place, and gathered for lessons. (I'm not sure about payment.)

They were referred to as "adult students." When did we start referring to those in college as "college kids"? And worse, when did we start treating them that way?

Posted by: sideswiththekids | February 4, 2011 8:20 PM | Report abuse

this is not a new situation. general douglas mcarthur's mother moved to west point while he was a cadet there!!

Posted by: george32 | February 5, 2011 5:09 AM | Report abuse

At what point are we going to stop referring to high school graduates as kids, children, or teenagers?
---

They are children as maturity is a gradual process.

This parent is crippling her child, I agree, but to somehow say an 18 year old is an adult (or even a 21 year old) is nonsense -- you are asking for an arbitrary criteria, and that simply does not work.

Each case should be considered seperately, right, as one size does not fit all.

Not now, not ever.

For instance, with regard to health care, I am grateful that children aged 26 and under can be covered by their parents policy. This in some way speaks to the recognition and inclusion of family within the greater social structure, and this can only be good for America as it recognizes the greater sociologiocal bonds of family.

:)

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | February 5, 2011 6:33 AM | Report abuse

let's hope this kid gets a helicopter wife!

Posted by: foggyflo | February 5, 2011 8:12 AM | Report abuse

let's hope this kid gets a helicopter wife!

Posted by: foggyflo | February 5, 2011 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Have always wondered why we refer to "college kids" but in crime news teenaged male perpetrators are always referred to as "men".

Posted by: ystarbuck | February 5, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Valerie, can you ask the admissions officers if they are able to determine when a kid's application is completed by a parent versus the student themself? If the perception is that every kid is getting assistance, maybe more and more parents are trying to give their kid an edge - even if the parent appears totally foolish in the process. I'll be a hands off parent when my children reach college. My kids will eventually have to sink or swim in life all on their own.

Posted by: abcxyz2 | February 5, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

commentator3, I think admissions staff are impressed with students who handle things on their own. They are using strategies like sending email directly to students requesting additional information or to take certain actions as a way to gauge how invested students are themselves. My daughter was highly self-directed in applying to colleges -- I basically handed over my credit card for application fees and to send SAT scores -- but she did all the work. She's been accepted at 3 colleges so far. Even my oldest, who's a sophmore in college and needed a lot more prodding to move through the process, did her own applications and handled the communication with the colleges she applied to. I know I've made many mistakes as a parent, but I can at least be proud of raising independent young women who can navigate the world on their own.

Posted by: trt2539 | February 5, 2011 11:10 AM | Report abuse

After sitting with my nephew as he did his homework, night after night, my brother and "crazy" sister-in-law filled out and sent 15 college applications for their son, including writing his essays. It was an ego trip for the parents and I assume somewhat painful for the son. He got into a relatively competitive school but he didn't get in on his own.

My feeling is that when you do your child's work for them, you are saying one thing: I do not think you are capable of doing the work on your own. A dreadful lesson.

Posted by: carolineC1 | February 5, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks trt2539. I'm certain my son can navigate through most things and am very proud of that. I agree with carolineC1 -- how terribly sad for her nephew. I can't even imagine ever calling the school or interfering...what are these parents thinking. But I can't help but be anxious because when you hear of other parents writing essays and completing the applications, and these kids are getting into schools and mine is still waiting to hear (we didn't apply early action/decision)....

Posted by: commentator3 | February 5, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks trt2539. I'm certain my son can navigate through most things and am very proud of that. I agree with carolineC1 -- how terribly sad for her nephew. I can't even imagine ever calling the school or interfering...what are these parents thinking. But I can't help but be anxious because when you hear of other parents writing essays and completing the applications, and these kids are getting into schools and mine is still waiting to hear (my son didn't apply early action/decision)....

Posted by: commentator3 | February 5, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

As a college consultant, I find it very sad that parents feel the need to take over the college admissions process with their kids. I am a firm believer that guidance and support from parents is important, but no one should assume the responsibilities that I think students need to handle. The applications and essays should be theirs and so should college interviews. Setting up college visits can be done by the parents, but they should stay in the background during the actual visit. I like to look at the college admissions process as a growing process for students and one where they do some self-reflection and learn new thing about themselves.

Susie Watts
Denver, Colorado

Posted by: collegedirection | February 5, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

One rule to follow on these discussion panels is not to troll for business Ms. Watts.

Posted by: Aqua2 | February 5, 2011 9:22 PM | Report abuse

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