The 411 on How to Deal With Your Parents Freshman Year

By Emily Roseman, Alumna of American University

One of my biggest pet peeves throughout my academic life was the word “helicopter parents.” It’s a teaching buzzword thrown around when debating the appropriateness of “over-involved Moms and Dads” and is something that to this day still rubs me the wrong way.

My parents were equally as a part of my college experience as my official college adviser and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. While my relationship with my parents can sound unusual, and at times, borderline unhealthy, the ability to forge open communication and involvement during my college experience is what made me a successful student and adult.

School administrators shun the idea of parents getting too nosy because it prevents a student from developing the skills they need as an independent adult. But by seeing Mom and Dad as a resource — not as attack dogs — you foster a better relationship and get the expert advice you grew up with.

Share Your Schedule

Whether you have a similarly nauseating relationship like I do with my parents or you strive to keep them at bay, it’s always a great start to keeping parents in the loop by sharing your schedule.

Academic or social, letting your parents know your whereabouts and upcoming activities allows Mom and Dad feel like they are a part of the college experience and also saves you time on the weekly check-in phone calls! Giving my parents open access to my school’s registrar site allowed them to see what exactly I was up to and gave them peace of mind their money was being well spent.

Honest Criticism

Perhaps it was the notion of always wanting to make my parents proud or getting that extra set of eyes, but I have always had the habit of seeking out critiques from my Mom and Dad. Getting that extra stamp of approval on your work, written or otherwise, saves you time during those all-nighters and anguish when you get back a grade that’s less than appealing.

While I learned not to run to Mommy and Daddy every time I was assigned homework, I was able to discern which assignments I could confidently tackle on my own and those that I really needed help tackling. Going to your parents for critiques (or in most cases, criticism) allows you to get a perspective from someone who might know more about the subject at hand as well as a “wiser” outlook. Think of getting edits from parents as your own office hours session with your professor.

College Career Counseling

I can honestly say I would not have graduated or have a career today without the help of my in-home college adviser. My dad single-handledly paved the path of my college career and knew my school’s annual book of courses like the back of his hand.

While a few spats over taking the right science or history course made semesters a bit hairy, without my dad staying involved and on top of my major degree track or how many credits I needed to fulfill for graduation, I would be drowning in a sea of incomplete courses.

Being open to your parents’ take on just where your college career should head or having monthly updates on your academic standing saves both parties the agony of another semester of playing catch-up on your degree. While Mom and Dad will be more than willing to share what they hope their tuition dollars will be spent toward, stay firm and develop confidence in your ability to give the final word.

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