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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

In college, but not in class: Kids with 'snowplow parents' give up easily

Even those who are physically present are often mentally absent, "feigning attention" while checking their e-mail, social media or Amazon cart, says Terri Hasseler. A professor at Bryant University in Rhode Island, she directs the Center for Teaching Excellence.

Professors are more lenient about attendance since the pandemic, says Hasseler, and students assume they can get the content online so there's no need to be present.

Faculty have to explain to students why showing up in class matters, she says.

Students with "snowplow parents" are used to someone removing all obstacles from their path, says Hasseler. They don't know how to deal with "the stress and discomfort of learning."

Overparenting and the pandemic deprived them of the chance to build "academic stamina" When the going gets tough, they quit.

High school students are asking "Why college?" and "College for what? says Liz Williams of Greater Twin Cities United Way, who sets up high school career fairs. "There's a lot of wisdom" in their skepticism, she tells EdSurge's Jeffrey R. Young. They've had family members take on debt for a degree.

Williams earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Portuguese. "I got to travel, I got to learn languages," she recalls. "But it also gave me zero direction as to what careers were possible."

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Bill Parker
Bill Parker
May 20

IMO, most kids who don't bother to come to class in high school won't show up in college either, and the college doesn't care since they already have their money...most of these people will drop

out inside of a year and be thinking about 'what do I do now' (i.e. - go and get a job, folks)

During the pandemic, more than a million males dropped out of college, but if they want to look at skilled trades, those require a mastery of reading, writing, and math as well...



May 20

A couple weeks ago, our kid said that only about 25% of kids were showing up for one of his classes. The teacher would lesson plan, and aim to have discussions, but with so few kids, it couldn't happen. She was getting so frustrated, she just canceled that day's class and went to talk to her department head about it. The school prevents teachers from making attendance count towards the grade, so there is no incentive to show up...other than to learn something.

Ann in L.A.


May 19

I have seen this for almost 20 years teaching economics to seniors in a decent suburban high school and a mix of AP and regular students. The regular students as a whole, don't engage. Most of them just sit there with their arms folded when I would put lecture notes up on the board, Yet they are all "going to college" because mom and dad's property tax money say they will. I've even been blunt with them. "Most of you will go to some 3rd or 4th rate public Texas college and major in partying for a semester or two and then fail out with a lot of debt." A few have said stuff like "I'll turn it on …

May 20
Replying to

One of the reasons that females are fewer physics and engineering majors is because those are majors where it is hard to make an "A" and sometimes no one is the class makes an "A." Female students will see that as a good reason to change majors while male students will keep struggling.

However, in the world of grades and hard work, women now make more than 50% of law school and medical school students.

As far as an economic future, who is better off, a physics PhD post-doc at Los Alamos (mainly men) or a physical or occupational therapist who makes more money and can live there they want.

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