Helicopter parents fly too close with college apps

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Artwork courtesy of Emily Rachilewski

 

By Tessa Weinberg

“We’re still working on perfecting our application,” your mom says to her family friend as you sit off to the side.  Our application?  Isn’t it my college application?

One of the tell-tale signs of a “helicopter parent” is when he or she starts to refer to your personal statements with a plural possessive pronoun that suggests that he or she wants to get into your dream college more than you do.

“Helicopter parent” is a negative term that refers to parents that hover over their children and coddle them.  Often, parents’ true inner helicopter begins to reveal itself when the college application process begins. It’s a constant stream of questions such as, “Did you revise that essay we talked about?” and “Make sure you put down that activity to really make the application shine!” and  “I really think you should reconsider what major you choose.  It’s not what I want for you” and“I should just write this for you, you’re not showing the best side of yourself.”

Although a certain level of concern and care is helpful from parents, there’s a point when it can become excessive.

“While parental involvement might be the extra boost that students need to build their own confidence and abilities, over-parenting appears to do the converse in creating a sense that one cannot accomplish things socially or in general on one’s own,” authors Jill C. Bradley-Geist and Julie B. Olson-Buchanan published in a recent study in Education + Training.

During this critical time in a teenager’s life, it’s essential that parents are nearby to offer support, but not be so pushy that they mold their child into the perfect student they think colleges want to see. Attaining a balance between the extremes of apathy and fervor is necessary for students not only to go to college and succeed, but also so they can learn to feel confident in themselves.  With a deeper level of understanding, parents can foster a supportive relationship with their kids during this stressful time.

“My parents started to see how their friends treated their own kids. They realized how it was negatively affecting their friends’ kids and decided to take a different approach with me.  I think they’ve been a lot more supportive than other parents,” senior Jeffrey Lee said.

With the ability to review students’ grades at any moment on Home Access Center or check in on their kids on various social media platforms, it’s easy to get consumed by the pervasive and watchful eye technology has created.

However, parents should feel content that they have instilled in their children the values they have raised them to know about: how to carry themselves appropriately.  Rather than whirring their choppers too close so their children’s lives are uprooted, parents should guide their kids from a safe distance so their children can make a safe landing on solid ground in the future.

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