Meet the parents

For community college students who are right out of high school, parents play an active role in choosing courses, writes Colleen Eisenbeiser, director of the TEACH Institute and Parenting Center at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland. Yet college administrators and counselors often ignore parents.

In interviews, parents of traditional-age students said they see community college as a step toward a bachelor’s degree. They try to balance “encouraging independence and providing support.”

Community college students who aspire to a bachelor’s degree are 14.5 percent less likely to accomplish this within nine years, compared to similar students who started at a four-year college or university.

. . .  community college administrators and student services staff must convey to parents and students, as soon as possible, the need for early decisions about programs of study and transfer institutions to allow for careful planning and appropriate course selection. They must also simultaneously work closely with their counterparts at four-year colleges to ensure that students have the opportunity to transfer successfully and without loss of credit.

Parents in the study saw their involvement as limited to helping their children “navigate the process.”  Yet nearly all accompanied their children the first time they met with an advisor and most helped their children select courses and plan schedules that include jobs and commuting.

Despite the “helicopter parent” stereotype, these parents said they helped only when their children requested it. They did not want to discuss their children’s work or grades with a faculty member.

Yet college administrators may wish to consider purposefully providing parents who wish to be supportive with easily accessible information about important dates and processes, as well as practical strategies through workshops or web pages on topics of concern, such as transfer of credit.

If parents are informed about college expectations and processes, they will support their children’s academic success and journey to independence, the study concluded.

I’m astounded that virtually all parents sit in on the first meeting with a college counselor. That seems very helicopterish to me.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON August 22, 2012

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I guess sitting in on advisory sessions is the lesser of two evils, in this setting. You’re right that it seems to indicate students who are too dependent and who haven’t learned to ask for advice (if it’s needed) at home, then carry that advice with them into the advisor meeting. But if it helps students finish a degree, how could we discourage it?

On the other hand, how long can we postpone the moment when a student should be flying solo?

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