Colleges Tell Parents to Shove Off - Politely

Filed under: In The News, Teen Culture, Education: Teens

Kids go to college and parents get sent home

Tim Marsho stands by as his son Chris moves in at Grinnell College. Credit: Brian C. Frank, The New York Times / Redux


Matthew 19:5 tells us "a man shall leave his father and mother."

Then he shall dwell in the house of his fraternity or perhaps some form of university housing. Yet, beware! Woe to the child who bringeth home his laundry on weekends and holidays. It is an abomination in the eyes of she who bore him.

All right, so those last 44 words were improvised a bit, but you're still not supposed to live with your folks forever.

Nonetheless, it can be hard say goodbye -- for both parents and kids. But colleges and universities are trying to make the transition easier.

The New York Times reports officials at Morehouse College in Atlanta have come up with one solution: They've started a formal Parting Ceremony, a way for kids to tell parents, "How can I miss you if you don't go away?"

Incoming freshmen and their parents endure -- er, enjoy -- speeches at the school's Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel. Then the new students are marched through the gates of campus and parents watch as the gates swing shut behind them.

No villainous laughter or ominous organ music sounds, please.

This is a serious moment. Separation at the University of Minnesota, however, is a little less formal. The Times reports parents are invited to a reception, giving their kids a chance to sneak off and meet their roommates without adult interference.

Parents. They can be soooo clingy and needy.

That's the problem, The Times reports. We live in an age of "Velcro parents" who are highly involved in the minutia of their children's lives, and colleges and universities want to cut the apron strings as soon as possible.

Administrators at Grinnell College in Iowa hold a ceremony where freshmen sit on one side of the gym while their parents sit on the other. President Raynard Kington greets students, his back turned to the parents, and, shortly thereafter, parents are cordially invited to get the %$#! off campus. In a nice way.

But they don't always listen. Many college administrators tell The Times parents often loiter about college towns and campuses for days.

Beverly Low, the dean of first-year students at Colgate University in New York, tells The Times of parents who attended the first day of classes with their daughter. Later, they stormed the registrar's office to change her schedule.

Joyce Holl, head of the National Orientation Directors Association, tells The Times colleges are increasingly telling parents to shove off.

Formal ceremonies are rare. More common, The Times reports, is explicit language in drop-off schedules telling parents when, exactly, they need to get out of Dodge.

This helps students talk to their parents, Thomas Dunne, the associate dean of undergraduates at Princeton University, tells The Times.

"It's easy for students to point to this notation and say, 'Hey, Mom, I think you're supposed to be gone now'," he says. "It's obviously a hard conversation for students to have with parents."

Related: Kids May Be Away at College, but More Parents Are Keeping Them Close Through Chat

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.