As students around the country begin their freshman year of college, many schools have found that they actually need to find creative ways to separate students from their parents, officially. According to an article by Trip Cabriel in the New York Times:

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.

It used to be that parents just dropped the kid off at the dorm and that was that. Today, however, many colleges stage special separation ceremonies in which college close symbolic gates and stage official goodbyes.

It’s unclear if these activities are designed primarily for the benefit of the parents or the students.

College administrators blame parents. According to Houston Dougharty, vice president of student affairs at Grinnell College:

A good deal of it has to do with the evolution of overinvolvement in our students’ lives. 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.

Well perhaps, but somehow all of this vicarious living doesn’t seem to matter much in the end. The kids go off to college, their parents leave, and another year begins, the same way it always has.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer