The concept of helicopter parents is mostly an abstract concept to professors at big public universities, though colleagues at small liberal arts colleges and other private institutions of higher learning (large and small) report that these people do exist in ever increasing numbers, and they are as annoying as we might imagine. They are not shy about calling their offspring's professors to chat about things that should only be discussed by the professor with the student.
A colleague who directs an internship program at a big public university recently had his first experience with a helicopter parent (HP). Perhaps not surprisingly, the child of this HP attends a small liberal arts college. The parent wanted to know whether his daughter could apply for the internship program even though the deadline had passed. If she could still apply, he would tell his daughter (and maybe write her application for her?).
My colleague wondered whether the daughter knew about her father's activities on her behalf. If she doesn't know and doesn't approve, she needs to have a talk with her father. If she knows and approves, she needs to have a talk with herself and stop relying on dad for things that are her responsibility.
My colleague did not reply to the HP's email because he was annoyed by it and because the answer was no, it was too late to apply for the program. (If you're going to be an HP, you should at least keep track of deadlines). He said that even if the answer had been yes, he wouldn't accept this student. He thought the incident showed that she didn't have the independence or maturity to do well in the program. Of course, that conclusion assumes that the daughter knew of her father's efforts on her behalf.
I would have replied, but it would be difficult to find an effective way to explain to the HP that his efforts were harming his daughter's opportunities, not increasing them. It would be tempting to pretend that the email was from my father, although that would not be the most mature response.
9 months ago