Author Topic: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?  (Read 5031 times)

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goldilocks

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confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« on: July 10, 2013, 11:15:16 AM »
No real etiquette issue here, I just am curious if I'm in the minority.

I took DD (21 YO) to college for her orientation.  This orientation was specifically for transfer students, there were no incoming freshmen.  The only reason I went was because it was a rather long drive (6 hours), and I wanted to keep DD company during the sessions, since she didn't know anyone.

Now, I have adopted a hands-off approach towards her college.  I know what college she attends and what she is majoring in, but that is basically it.   I don't even know when tuition is due - she tells me when she needs the money for her tuition.  I don't advise her on classes unless she asks my opinion, and I never, ever, login to the campus website for any reason.

I seem to be the only one with that approach.  The sessions during orientation that were geared towards parents were all about how to access the school calender (so you can keep up with events!  And remind your student of important dates!), joining the parents organization, etc.

In my opinion, I don't need to know of any events because I don't have any.   I'm not in college, DD is.  I already went.   I don't need to remind her of important dates.  If I do, then she'll never learn to manage her own calendar.

My intentions are:

1.  Help her move in.
2.  Pay her tuition - after she tells me the amount
3.  Visit her once per semester.

cwm

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2013, 11:21:33 AM »
You seem a lot like my parents. They gave me money when I needed it for books or tuition, they came to visit me when I had a major concert I was in and stayed for the weekend when I had no classes, and let me do my own thing. I was only 3.5 hours away, and my parents came with me to help me move in and out every year (at the dorms, until I got off-campus housing and stayed year 'round), but past the first time where my mom gently reminded me to walk my classes before they started so I'd know where I was going, they were completely hands off.

Honestly, I appreciated it more that they left me alone. I knew plenty of people in college who were local and their parents were CONSTANTLY bothering them. Have they gotten their homework done? Are they studying enough? What extra events are they doing? How have their tests been? What projects were they working on? I was starting to get frustrated by how overbearing THEIR parents were. And their parents were constantly reminding them of everything. Those same people were the ones who forgot things all the time and couldn't schedule their own time or budget their own money. They acted like they were still in high school, except with the added bonus of living outside of the home.

The fact that colleges WANT these parents of adults to help access things and keep them in line is so weird to me. Don't they want to teach these kids how to succeed on their own without their parents' intervention all the time?

audrey1962

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2013, 11:23:03 AM »
You sound like my mom. When I transferred, she drove me for the company, but that was it. I had a very good experience and was very happy with her hands-off approach.

poundcake

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2013, 11:33:56 AM »
It's my understanding that a lot of these parent things are for two reasons.


  • Keep parents in the loop about financial responsibilities, since, if they are involved, chances are, they're paying.
  • Create a homey "we care about you and your child!" atmosphere so you will be more willing to donate money to them.

I can tell you right now that no professor is going to want to hear from anyone but the enrolled student because, like you said, it is your daughter's education and responsibility.

Hmmmmm

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2013, 11:42:56 AM »
My DH and I were just discussing this last week because our DD will be an incoming Freshman in the fall.  We were talking about how when we went through college orientation, we are pretty sure there was no "parent's orientation program". For DD's, the parents were invited to join the sessions with the academic counselors, had a session for parents only on registration, grading, scheduling, campus resources, and others on safety, finance, meal plans and dorm life and how to stay involved. 

We laughed about how universities are complaining about helicopter parents but IMHO are encouraging that behavior.

We are funding 85% of DD's education and are requiring her to fund the other 15% for up to 10 semesters. For this agreement to stay in place she must maintain a minimum GPA, just as she would if it was an outside scholarship. If she falls below that, she'll need to return home and enroll in a local college.

I was concerned about what I perceived as a very light first semester load that she and her academic counselor came up with. But because she already had her freshman English, Math and History credits, they didn't want to enroll her in sophmore levels of those classes, so I kept my mouth shut (well, except for one outburst of "15 hours of mostly electives, are you kidding me? :o") 

DD will be in school about 9 hours away. While we plan to go up to help her move in and Family weekend, I am not going to be tracking her classwork for her or reminding her that X is coming up. That is her job. I'll be here for her to talk to if she wishes, I'll offer input when requested (and maybe a few times when not), I'll discuss the pros and cons of different majors.

Judah

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2013, 11:45:16 AM »
In my experience, your attitude is the norm.  I do know some helicopter parents, but for the most part, parents recognize that their college age children are adults and can handle most things on their own. I haven't been actively involved with my kids' college stuff at all.
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MrTango

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2013, 11:50:14 AM »
OP's stance is pretty much how my parents were when I was in college.

Every semester, I'd have to give my dad a printout of my enrollment proving that I was a full-time student, but the only reason he needed that was so that he could keep me covered by his employer's health/dental/vision plans.

I did have to deal with other students' parents in my role as a campus security guard (they'd call us to demand that we make their child call them).  If their kid lived in one of the dorms, we'd give them the dorm's front desk number, but that was the extent of what we could do.  I had to tell several parents that campus security's job is not to be surrogate parents to their adult children.

Pen^2

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 11:57:35 AM »
I don't know about other colleges, but at the one I went to, there was a lot of parental involvement stuff like what the OP has described. I became somewhat close with a few members of staff, and years after I had left, I found out that the purpose of these things was entirely to placate the few (but noisy) helicopter parents. Because an upset helicopter parent is the worst kind of SS anyone ever wants to deal with.

I knew 24 year-olds who were so pampered, they literally couldn't change a light bulb and had to use their phone light to work at night once their other lights died because they didn't know it could be fixed. I knew people well into adulthood who couldn't do a normal load of laundry in a coin-operated machine with only one button labelled "start". I am firmly of the opinion that, whenever possible, the skills needed for living away from home should be taught before the person involved starts living away from home. I don't think it's completely outrageous to think it preferable to teach someone how to swim before dropping them in the deep end.

A hands-off approach is good for an adult at college. As long as you're open to giving advice when she doesn't know how to do something, then I think this is a great way for her or anyone else to get used to being a little more self-sufficient. I don't see how being dependent on a parent reminding you when your assignments are due is at all a good thing in the long run. From what I've seen, most parents are more or less hands-off, either due to a purposeful decision, or because they don't have time to micromanage the life of someone else.

Coralreef

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2013, 11:58:10 AM »
I'll join in your minority.  My parents did not hover (13 hours away...) and only wanted to know if I was OK and if I needed money. 

I did the same with my kids.  Help them move, transfer money if needed, answer questions on how to do a pot roast, and that was it.  Of course, all phone calls were returned and I was happy to talk with them.  Like you, I went through it once, I don't need or want to do it again. 

I've seen helicopter parents and the resulting mayhem when their precious little one is on his/her own.  They can barely feed themselves, much less manage a budget, time or household.

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Malaika

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2013, 12:25:32 PM »
I work for a college and have seen the other side.  While I firmly believe the OP's approach is the right approach, many parents of prospective and current college students do not.  They handle all aspects of their child's getting into and succeeding at college.  I have had a prospective student whose parents did not give him his acceptance from our college but instead were holding all his acceptances until they decided he should know.  I have had others who came to visit the school without bringing their child (the prospective student) even when it was within an easy driving distance.  This fall, I know at least one mother will be staying in my town for a week after moving her child into the dorm "in case [her daughter] needs me". 

Colleges have orientation programs for parents because otherwise parents try to join their child in the student's orientation program.  Many colleges have had to set a designated "kiss and cry" goodbye time so the parents get the clue that 'now' is the time to leave.  For me, it's a commentary on their parenting...if your child is of at least average intelligence and ability and you can't trust them to handle college on their own, you didn't prepare them well enough. In my opinion, college is the time to learn how to be an adult in a somewhat protected environment and you can't do that if your parents won't let you try on your own.

cattlekid

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2013, 12:28:00 PM »
I would have died if my parents took that much interest in my college career.  I got dropped off at the beginning of the year, transportation for holidays (and that was always sketchy and they were really happy if I could catch a ride with someone else) and then transportation home.  That all ended when I was a senior and they sold me a car for $1.00 and I was on my own to get back and forth (a whole hour and a half drive one way). 

Other than that, and showing some mild interest in my grades, I was on my own.  I was on a full scholarship for four years so making sure I graduated in that time frame was about their only real care about college.  Everything else, I had to navigate on my own.

EllenS

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2013, 12:35:15 PM »
No matter what the "norm" is these days, I think you are a great parent.  You have raised your now *adult* daughter, and are giving her an appropriate level of help when requested.  You do not need to parent your child anymore, because she is not a child.
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siamesecat2965

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2013, 12:38:28 PM »
I would have died if my parents took that much interest in my college career.  I got dropped off at the beginning of the year, transportation for holidays (and that was always sketchy and they were really happy if I could catch a ride with someone else) and then transportation home.  That all ended when I was a senior and they sold me a car for $1.00 and I was on my own to get back and forth (a whole hour and a half drive one way). 

Other than that, and showing some mild interest in my grades, I was on my own.  I was on a full scholarship for four years so making sure I graduated in that time frame was about their only real care about college.  Everything else, I had to navigate on my own.

MIne were pretty hands off as well. This was back in the mid-80's so no cell phones, Internet, computers, or e-mail. You either made phone calls or wrote letters.  They did take me to school, and helped me move in and get settled. But that was it. They also came to visit, and the times I couldn't take the train (3.5 hours away) or get a ride, transported me to and from school.

They didn't ever try and tell me which classes to take, ask if my assignments were done, or anything like that. They were available for advice, and I took them up on that, but they were pretty much hands off, which was nice.

Sr. year they didn't buy ME a car, but a THIRD car so they didn't have to drive me back and forth to school, which was so much easier on them.

bopper

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2013, 01:21:26 PM »
When I dropped my daughter off at college, they quickly had the kids go to their own orientation, and then had something for the parents...I think just to make the parents feel good.  But by separating the kids, they got them started off on their own and the parents could not helicopter.

ladyknight1

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Re: confusing college visit AKA am i a bad mother?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2013, 01:26:44 PM »
I work with transfer admissions at a major university. It is the norm for students to be on their own after age 19 and to be completely autonomous.

What troubles me more are the many calls I get from a parent of a student, and when I refuse to tell them anything they can't find for themselves on our website, they get very upset with me. The US FERPA rules keep me from giving any specific information to anyone but the student in front of me and other staff.

OP, you are doing it right! :D