Parents should be banned from campus. Not at all times, and Public Safety officers shouldn’t go around and round them up, but for the most part, parents need to stay away. Move in, parents’ weekend, move out, and graduation are enough.
I mention this because I’ve noticed something odd about campus tours in the past few weeks. They’re bigger, presumably because of all the admitted students, but I don’t see that many people who look like admitted students. I see a lot of parental-looking adults, a lot of little kids, and the occasional high school senior crowded between all of those parents and little siblings. To the parents who do this: Why? You’re not going to Princeton. That acceptance letter did not have your name on it. This is your child’s decision. Let them make it.
College is about transitioning from childhood from adulthood. For parents, that means you have to let your children grow up and forge their own path in life. I’m not saying you should cut them totally loose. Do talk to them about selecting a college, which may seem like the biggest decision in the world. Spoiler: It’s not. But for the love of God, don’t hover over their shoulders.
If the whole family is taking a college visit vacation, then sit in Small World, relax, and let your child take the tour on their own. I guarantee the little siblings will thank you for not getting dragged along yet again. And maybe the admitted students will ask real questions without Mom and Dad around. Most prefrosh won’t ask about the drinking culture on campus if they are with their little siblings, but college isn’t just where you go to school — it’s where you live, and these kinds of questions are important.
Prefrosh, you’re going to be living on your own in college. Yes, you’ll have a residential college adviser and so many other people looking out for you that I couldn’t possibly name them all, but you will be much more independent than when you lived with your parents. No one will stop you from staying up until 5 a.m. on a school night. You shouldn’t, as you’ll learn after the first time you do it, but you need to make that mistake and learn why it is a mistake. You can’t make those mistakes without a bit of freedom.
I’ve heard endless complaints about how ours is the spoiled generation, the children of the participation trophy. In reality, those trophies were more about the parents who needed that external validation of their parenting skills than about the kids who needed validation about their soccer skills. Parents, don’t turn four years of your child’s life into a bragging point about how your child goes to Princeton. Maybe another school would be better for them.
Prefrosh, are you facing pressure to go to Princeton because it’s what your parents want? Were you even asked if you want to go to college at all? I’m not trying to scare you away. I’m very glad that I go here. But not everyone is. Don’t make this decision for the wrong reasons. Feel free to take this article back home and give it to your parents to explain why they should chill. Helicopter parenting isn’t helpful.
Now, before I get misunderstood, I have to admit that my introduction was a bit facetious. I don’t really want parents banned from campus. Of course parents should help their children navigate difficult and stressful times in their lives, both when they decide where to go to college and when they are students. But maybe if parents want their children to mature and succeed, they need to back off, make some room for mistakes, and let their children live their own lives.
Beni Snow is a mechanical and aerospace engineering major from Newton Center, Mass. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.