More parents hovering over their college-bound teens

Sun Oct 3, 2010 9:04pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - More parents of college-bound teenagers are becoming involved in the admission process and posing new challenges for universities.

So-called "helicopter parents" have stopped short of moving into residence halls, but some are calling college admission officers, filling in application forms for their children and even writing their personal essays in the hopes that their son or daughter will get into a top school.

"It has been growing a little bit each year but the big change was probably three to five years ago when parents began to play a much more active role," said Jessica Eads, vice president enrolment management at Hofstra University in New York.

Jerry Flanagan, the vice president of enrolment and marketing at Saint Michael's College in Vermont, attributes the rise to two factors -- technology, such as cellphones, Facebook and email which enables constant connectivity, and smaller families.

"The advances in technology have made it easier for families to hover, or be connected. The second part is that you don't see the same large numbers in families, so you have a little bit more focus on your child and to live vicariously through them," he said.

"Cutting that umbilical cord psychologically I think is hard for some parents today."

Whatever the reasons, 77 percent of nearly 400 admissions officers at the country's top 500 schools who were questioned in a survey said parental involvement is increasing. And 61 percent reported their school is doing something about it.

"Many schools are trying to remedy the situation in creative ways," said Justin Serrano, of Kaplan Inc, the educational and career services company that conducted the poll.   Continued...

<p>A student read a book on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, October 7, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>