If your parents are too involved, can they hurt your chances?
There is usually an underlying reason that drives parents to be ove-rinvolved, and that reason is usually low grades in general, or decent grades and a determination to get their child into an elite college. So it will be the grades that will hurt your chances, not your parents’ over-involvement.
The over-involvement generally becomes acutely apparent to us after a student has been denied. I have dealt with some extremely pushy, borderline abusive parents. I’ve been hung up on. I’ve been threatened with lawsuits. One time I even felt as though the parent might lunge at me from across the desk. This incident caused us to install a security system in the lobby.
Students can be very shy, and often the parents push and push their student to take action on their own behalf, but the student won’t budge. For some reason, this generation has had difficulty learning to advocate for – and speak for -- themselves. The parent is the one that calls with questions about completing or submitting the application. Or perhaps the high school guidance counselor reveals that their umpteenth call to us is at the parent’s continued urging. And we can always tell when the parent has written the essay.
My sympathy is always for the student, who usually is kept in the background while the parent won’t stop pushing. Who knows what hidden fears are preventing a young person from acting on his/her own behalf? I know from teaching first-year seminar how intensely anxiety-laden the idea of college is for every single student. There is an element of the college application process that is terrifying for these kids.
My advice to students is to begin taking responsibility. That’s what colleges are looking for: Students who can enter the hallowed halls, hit the ground running, and handle their own issues. If you can’t or simply don’t feel you are ready, then it’s time to consider a gap year – do something fabulous and meaningful, then go to college. It will always be there.
Your parents want you out of the house and thriving on your own. It’s your life, not your parents. Be purposeful. This is your opportunity to grab your dreams and run with them. If they don’t want to pay for you to do what you want to do, then figure out a way to pay for it yourself.
If you want your parents to be less involved, if you feel they may be hurting your chances, then step up and start taking action yourself. If you don’t do that, then you must expect that they will continue to interfere, and you will deserve it.
Make an action plan with timelines and stick to it. If you approach everything in your life in this manner, you will have a greater chance at getting where you want to be, not where someone else thinks you should be.
A word to the wise:
What really gives me pause is when I see a student has adopted the bullying techniques of the parent(s). That is when I begin to imagine what it will be like for the college’s staff, faculty, student body, roommates, resident hall directors, etc., if this student (and his/her parent) is allowed to be part of the community.
I never denied a student because of this. But I wanted to. Which means someone out there has done exactly that.