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Here’s a link of interest regarding parental involvement in higher ed: “I Want to Speak to Your Supervisor!” (by Afshan Jafar, published in Inside Higher Ed’s University of Venus blog). It’s powerfully written and incidentally to all you English Comp students out there, it’s a nice example of a cause-effect essay, as well: it explains a problem in higher education (parents contacting college administrators on behalf of their adult children) and discusses three possible causes for this trend.

The article’s tone (excerpt: “the number of calls and emails that administrators receive from parents is appallingly on the rise”– emphasis mine) is consonant with what I’ve generally observed in academia: strong feelings against this kind of parental intervention. And although I remain optimistic that the majority of students do not involve parents directly in their college affairs, the phenomenon certainly is real. As a community college instructor, I myself have experienced a couple of the scenarios mentioned in the piece (ghost-writing father, indignant parents phoning deans); and such experiences strike us as jarring and bizarre when day in, day out, we’re teaching ostensible adults.

Regardless of this phenomenon’s whys and wherefores, though, it doesn’t hurt for you, the student, to be aware it exists. For the student, I think the crux of the matter is rather simple:

If you’re old enough to be a college student, you should consider yourself a responsible adult, and you need to own your choices, successes, and failures (be they academic or not). Mom and dad certainly can be a welcome source of advice and support to you personally, but they definitely should not be thrusting themselves into your collegiate academics (example: phoning your professors). Also remember your job as a college student is not only to study, but also to handle the “housekeeping” tasks that go along with being a student. Even if your parents don’t call the college defiantly (as this article discusses), if they do select and register for your classes, order your textbooks, and schedule appointments with your advisors, that’s not a good thing. They may offer cheerfully to do such tasks, but it’s inappropriate. All that is your job, and abdicating such responsibilities to your parents is preventing yourself from becoming a mature adult.

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