How involved should parents be in a college student’s education?


Photo: Creative Commons

By Kristen DeMatos

College is a time of immense growth for many students. For those who dorm, they are given a new freedom to be their own boss. Even commuter students gain freedom. If you don’t feel like driving to class one day, it’s up to you whether or not you choose Netflix over your history lecture.  Want to go to sleep at 3 a.m.? Go for it! Want to leave class 20 minutes early? Sure, go ahead! Don’t feel like doing that final project? It’s all up to you! At least it’s supposed to be, right?

Some parents feel that even though their child is legally an adult, they still have a huge say in what their kid does. In some cases it’s true, but when it comes to school, what’s normal?

Speaking with some professors at Kean I learned that over the years, many have been emailed, called, or personally approached by a student’s parents who are unhappy with their child’s grades. The reality is that the university looks at the student as an adult, so regardless of how the parent feels, they really don’t have a say. I could understand why parents would be upset about this, though, especially if they’re the ones paying or helping to pay for the tuition. They just want to make sure that their money isn’t being wasted.

My problem is that I think the frustration and concern is being misdirected. If your kid doesn’t show up to class, why should their professor give them a good grade? The professor can’t make the student come to class, and as much as they’d like to believe it, the parent can’t either.

With my parents, they’ve always let me do my own thing and learn from any mistakes. If I want to stay up till 4 a.m. and play Trivia Crack even though I have class early in the morning, that’s my decision to make and I’m the one who has to deal with the sleepiness. When I don’t feel well, I don’t ask my mom if I can stay home from school, like I did when I was younger. I simply let her know that I’m skipping class that day. I feel that even that may seem unnecessary to other college kids.

I think my parents have always given me a lot of freedom, but in my case, that makes me want to have them be more involved. One of my friends once told me that her parents had no idea what classes she was taking or what days she was at school, whereas I make a color-coded schedule for my parents at the beginning of every semester. As involved as my parents are, however, I don’t think they’d ever get directly involved with my schooling unless it concerned graduation.

When you enter college, you are taking a giant step towards adulthood. In the future, your parents aren’t going to be able to call your boss and explain why your work was poorly done or why you showed up late four days in a row. That’s a reality that both students and parents have to come to terms with. It’s in a parent’s nature to want to care for their children, but as we age we need to grow.

Regardless of their intention, I feel that parents should not be involved with schooling beyond positive encouragement. It’s normal to ask questions and know what’s going on but it needs to be up to the student whether or not they go to class and do well. With apps and smart phones it’s really easy for parents to keep tabs on their college kids and see how they’re doing but I think that has the potential to hinder the student from growing.

People need to be given freedom in order to grow, and if a parent is always watching over their kid’s shoulder, that’s never going to happen.


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