Having recently sent my daughter back to college and my son entering his junior year of highschool with me him thinking about where he might like to go, it’s an exciting time. It got me thinking about the college application rigamarole and how did parents get so damn crazy involved.
Other than telling me I was going to college and that was that, here’s the level of participation of my parents in my college future back in 1983:
# of college visits my parents made with me – 0
# of college tours my parents made me go on – 0
# of essays on my college applications my parents proofed – 0
# of financial advisors, guidance counselors and info sessions my parents went to in order prepare themselves for sending my sister and I off to college – 0
# of SAT tutoring classes my parents signed me up for – 0
I’m told the university I attended is in high demand today so my parent’s reliance on me turned out just fine. I did all of the above with my daughter and enjoyed most of it. I do remember touring a few schools in Massachusetts and wanting her to see one not too far away but she just wanted to take a nap. I do remember being on a tour and eager to learn more only to look over and see my daughter texting her friends. But it wasn’t my future. When did times change that we should be getting them into college rather than these young adults assuming the primary role in the process? Why are parents writing their kid’s essays (and bragging about it) while the kids are watching Netflix? Why are parents going to information sessions while the kids are playing X-Box? Why are parents drafting their kid’s resumes and hanging out with paid college advisors while their kids are hanging out with their friends?
Kids should be hanging out with their friends! Eventually they would get it together. What would happen if parents today did what my parents did? Would there be an entire generation only wanting to work at McDonalds? I doubt it. I have faith that seventeen year olds would do what they needed to do to get where they wanted.
Recently I was at Starbucks on a Friday night while my son was hanging out with his friends. There were several tables of kids studying ON THEIR OWN with 2 ton SAT prep books along with their coffee. I didn’t see any parents lurking behind the baristas. Suffice it to say my kids aren’t the study for the SAT at Starbucks on a Friday night kinda kids. Mine are the rather get a root canal than study for the SAT on a Friday night kinda kids. So a bit of direction is okay. A bit of showing them the importance of a college education is okay. It’s a fine line, one that my parents navigated so well, and I’m not sure when our generation of parents crossed it.