“Although I’m absolutely thrilled that Princeton has remained number 1 in the US News College Rankings, I am concerned about the continuing drop in rank in the WSJ release today.”
This post from Tara Cnoo was found on the Princeton Parents Facebook Page, a forum where students’ families can keep in touch with their children’s lives and stay up to date on University news and campus happenings. Family members regularly use the platform to share concerns, announce student accomplishments, and exchange helpful information.
“I make this post in hopes of answering some questions I see frequently asked and possibly allay some concerns,” Shannon Livingston Victor, another Princeton parent, posted. “With permission from my son (2025 and an athlete), I'd like to share his experience and hopefully assist another family.”
Several parents on the page agree that posts increase family comfort and strengthen the broader University community.
And on Aug. 18, Loraine Raine posted: “This community has made me feel more comfortable and excited for my P25 son's move into the Forbes building along with the experience he will have as a whole at Princeton!”
“My mom thinks it’s really helpful,” said Sushma Miryala ’25. “It has all these parents dropping questions that other parents might have, so everyone leaves really helpful comments.”
But not all Princeton students are pleased with their parents’ activities on the page. While a useful tool for some families and students, the page has become a source of tension and anxiety for others. Students have raised concerns regarding the limited scope of discussions on the page, social exclusivity, and encroachments on student privacy.
“Is it too extreme to say I wish it didn’t exist?” said Annabelle Duval ’23 when asked what she would change about the page if given the option. Duval is an Associate Features Editor for The Daily Princetonian. “A lot of parents are a bit intrusive. The page can turn into an echo chamber of parents obsessing over their kids’ lives, and college is supposed to be a time of independence.”
Rohit Narayanan ’24 commented on how the page is “typical of large forums: they get dominated by a few people rather quickly.” Narayanan is an Opinion Columnist for the ‘Prince.’ He compared the page to the Class of 2024 GroupMe.
“I wish that these forums were more inclusive, rather than creating their own community in the view of others,” Narayanan said.
Many students do not support the fact that their personal details can be shared without their permission on such a large platform. Some have asked their parents not to post pictures of them, avoided sharing information about their lives on campus, and gotten into arguments over content posted.
“I told my mom she can’t post pictures of me,” said Duval.
“Sometimes kids don’t share stuff,” noted parent Anne Pederson. “Parents have to prompt them. I don’t think [parents] do anything actually embarrassing. But sometimes my daughter will say ‘don’t be so embarrassing.’’’
“If [my son] knew how often I posted he would find a way to ban me,” said Evan Levine, one of the most active parents on the site. “I think most students would be embarrassed by their parents’ activity on the page.”
One junior discussed how they felt exposed when their parent posted about them having to take a Greyhound bus to travel home. “That wasn’t necessarily something I would have shared myself,” they said.
Students also cautioned that some of the “helpful” information about campus life found on the page can be inaccurate or outdated.
“Most [of the parents] get their information from other parents who know very little,” said Fernando Aviles-Garcia ’24. “Many of them don’t really wait to hear from the University, so even if one person starts an uproar, a lot of them follow along even if the information is false.”
While parents acknowledge that inaccurate information is present on the page, some interviewed were not overly concerned by it.
“By and large, Princeton authorities will monitor and make corrections if information is wrong,” said Pederson.
Some students themselves acknowledged that the page can be an important resource and support system for families not familiar with the East Coast college culture.
“It’s interesting having that space,” said Luke Bunday ’23, “given the variety of backgrounds present. Among people who use it, it can be a helpful resource, but the way that actually takes shape can be in big and small ways.”
Pederson described how the bulk of her information on transport, storage, and “learning the ropes” of being a Princeton Parent came from the page.
Narayanan also commented on how the page builds community for a confluence of identity groups, contrasting the more diverse forum with smaller affinity based chats: “Every school has a Desi Parents WhatsApp,” he said.
“I’m sure there’s so much that happens on the Desi Parents WhatsApp, too,” added Zaiya Gandhi ’24. “Parents wanted to make sure their kids were eating and had other support. Parents in the WhatsApp who were closer to campus could help give them peace of mind with that stuff.”
Even with the benefits of parent solidarity, some students recognize that many parents use these kinds of “parents pages” in an overbearing way.
“They seem like a good place to find community and talk to people who know what it’s like,” said Rachel Chen ’24 about the Princeton Parents Page and the Chinese Parents WeChat. “People who know where you are coming from...but some parents really do act crazy. Like, seriously.”
Sydney Eck is a Features and Prospect writer for The Daily Princetonian. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by Instagram dm at @sydney.eck.