Let Go of Your College Kid!

Filed under: Opinions

This will come as a big shock: Parents are more involved than ever with getting their kids into college.

That's what a survey of college admissions officers by the Kaplan test prep folks found out, including the fact that 77 percent of the officers say parental involvement is increasing, and in response, 61 percent of colleges have added some new perk for parents, like parents-only tours, or special good bye (i.e., get outta here!) ceremonies, which are a hint for the parents to vamoose.

Let's hope those work, because if not, it may be only a matter of time before America, already abuzz with helicopter parents, follows in the footsteps of the University of Wuhan in China. There, administrators noticed some parents were actually moving into their kids' dorm rooms. They simply wanted to help out with cooking, cleaning, whatever college students need. (Bong selecting? Frisbee fetching?) Anyway, deciding this was "unacceptable," the university turned its giant gym into a temporary dorm ... for the parents. Now mom and dad are invited to roll out a mat and sleep on the floor for a few days or even weeks, and if you click here you can see a photo of it. One thing you've got to admit: Their rows of mats are very neat.

Less neat is the fact that from Chatanooga to China, many otherwise able-bodied college age kids are incapable of living on their own. Or, rather: Their parents think they are incapable. But when you consider that Mark Twain, Ben Franklin and Herman Melville were all apprenticed by about age 12 -- that was the norm until fairly recently -- you start to realize that "kids" are much more capable than we're giving them credit for. If a teenage Melville could harpoon a whale, the average freshman can probably do a load of laundry.

It's just ... we don't believe it. While most of us are also convinced we have smart, "great" kids (ever meet anyone who didn't describe their kids as "great"?), we are less convinced that they are not absolute dolts when it comes to everyday life. After all, we helped them get into college, the next step is to help them through it.

But maybe the trick is to roll up the mat and go home. If we want them to grow up, at some point we have to let them. College is that time. After all, it's not like we're sending them off to battle a great white whale.

Or even if we were, they've got cell phones: "Mom, could you FedEx me my harpoon?"

And we would.

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