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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Colleges adapt to helicopter parents

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As parents are more involved with their children’s college lives — some send a wake-up call to ensure they get to early classes — colleges are adapting, writes Laura McKenna in The Atlantic.

Some colleges “provide a parent-and-guardian track during student orientation and create webinars for parents on topics like homesickness and career services,” while others have created parent “leadership councils,” she writes. “Universities also reach out to parents with weekly newsletters, Facebook pages, and web chats.”

Stacy G.’s daughter was having a meltdown. Her daughter, a sophomore at a prestigious private college, wanted an internship at Boston Children’s Hospital, a plum job that would look great on her applications to graduate school. After four weeks of frantically waiting for the school to arrange for an interview at the hospital, Stacy called her daughter’s adviser at the internships office to complain. “For $65,000 [in full attendance costs], you can bet your sweet ass that I’m calling that school … If your children aren’t getting what they’ve been promised, colleges are going to get that phone call from parents,” Stacy said. “It’s my money. It’s a lot of money.”

Parents have stepped up their involvement “because of technology, employment concerns, and the high price of college,” writes McKenna. Many fear their children will make the wrong choices and end up living in the basement through their 20s.

Yet too much parent involvement “delays adulthood,” writes McKenna.

Stacy G., who “communicates with her daughter at least three times a day,” says it’s not “helicopter parenting.” It’s “Parenting 101.”

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a former university president, is getting good reviews for The Vanishing American Adult, which has advice on raising self-reliant, responsible adults.

“Perpetual adolescence” is a new and “dangerous thing,” he tells NPR. “Adolescence is a pretty glorious concept. It’s about intentionally transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Being stuck in adolescence — that’s a hell.”

Neverland, he says, is a “bad place to be.”

Sasse and his wife are raising their three children to “applaud and celebrate stitches” — as long as there’s no permanent spinal damage.

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