Off to School

OFF TO SCHOOL….Via Joanne Jacobs, the Wall Street Journal reports that universities are becoming ever more inundated with demands from “helicopter parents”:

A new generation of overinvolved parents are flooding campus orientations, meddling in registration and interfering with students’ dealings with professors, administrators and roommates, school officials say.

….The University of Vermont employs “parent bouncers,” students trained to divert moms and dads who try to attend registration and explain diplomatically that they’re not invited….At the University of Georgia, students who get frustrated or confused during registration have been known to interrupt their advisers to whip out a cellphone, speed-dial their parents and hand the phone to the adviser, saying, “Here, talk to my mom.”

….Administrators prefer that students pick their own majors and courses. At California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif., last week, a mother showed up ? without her son ? to register him for classes and meet with his academic adviser, says Andrene Kaiwi-Lenting, the university’s orientation director. She intercepted the mother and urged her to leave and let her son come alone later; “there’s going to be a time when he needs to do this on his own,” she says she told the mother. But the woman said her son was traveling and refused to be dissuaded.

A couple of weeks ago a friend of ours was visiting and asked if I had a copy of the complete works of William Shakespeare that she could look at. It turned out she needed to buy a copy of Shakespeare for her daughter’s summer school class and wasn’t sure which one to buy. I suggested that the best bet was to buy a well regarded edition, but buy it at a used bookstore to save money. This prompted a frenzied hour of online book browsing and phone calling.

About halfway through this, I suddenly wondered what was going on. “Why don’t you just have her buy her own book?” I asked. After all, that’s what she (presumably) does for all her other classes. I never really got an answer to that, though, and the Shakespeare frenzy continued unabated.

So is the Journal onto something? Or is this just one of those all-too-common anecdotal scare stories that makes for a satisfying round of tsk-tsking among its readers but doesn’t really prove anything? The WSJ article doesn’t provide any actual evidence one way or the other. Still, it sure seems to be on the mark, doesn’t it? Or are we old fogies just kidding ourselves about how independent our generation was?