At around 6:00 next Wednesday, members of Wesleyan’s newly arrived Class of 2014 will meet, shepherded by RAs and Orientation Leaders, on the CFA Green for the traditional barbecue welcome. Left in the dust, their parents will be forced to move on and move out—not necessarily in that order. So goes Operation Separation at Wes: swift and painless.
Not so at other schools. A New York Times cover story this week details the myriad ways in which college orientation schedules have learned to deal with a generation of doting helicopter parents who seemingly refuse to leave—from Morehouse College’s formal “Parting Ceremony” to Princeton’s blunt “students only” designation:
As the latest wave of superinvolved parents delivers its children to college, institutions are building into the day, normally one of high emotion, activities meant to punctuate and speed the separation. It is part of an increasingly complex process, in the age of Skype and twice-daily texts home, in which colleges are urging “Velcro parents” to back off so students can develop independence. . . .
Some undergraduate officials see in parents’ separation anxieties evidence of the excesses of modern child-rearing. “A good deal of it has to do with the evolution of overinvolvement in our students’ lives,” said Mr. Dougharty of Grinnell. “These are the baby-on-board parents, highly invested in their students’ success. They do a lot of living vicariously, and this is one manifestation of that.”
Do (most) parents know instinctively when to peace the hell out? Or does Generation Helicopter really need a more formal, if occasionally ridiculous, dismissal? Does Wes do it right? Discuss and share move-in day horror stories in the comments.
- New York Times: Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home