Friday, January 25, 2008

'Helicopter Parents', Cultural Capital, and College Life

"According to a UCLA survey released today, a whopping 84% of college freshmen nationwide reported that Mom and Dad showed the right amount of involvement in the decision to go to college. Of those, 80.5% said they were fine with the amount of input their parents offered in choosing a school."

This article by the LA Times based on a UCLA survey of undergraduates shows a trend that is becoming more and more prevalent among young adults of this generation. Parental involvement in students' lives into the "college years" and beyond seems to be increasing all around the country. Some even go so far as to call these parents who hover over their child's every move, "helicopter parents". However, parents' input and oversight of their children also poses an interesting question about cultural capital: Are parents using their cultural capital to not only get their children into college, but also help advance their children through college on a path towards graduation?

The interesting part about this article is that the children seem to welcome their parents' involvement when it comes to academic affairs and do not feel that their parents are too overbearing. In effect, children are allowing their parents to use the cultural capital that parents learned from going through the college system. On the other side, parents are doing everything they can to make sure their child has the maximum benefits from a college education. However, not all students have the luxury of relying on their cultural capital and parental involvement.

This study found that Latino and Asian parents seemed to lack attention towards their college students which was often a result of language barriers or because parents were immigrants to the United States and did not know how to deal with the college system. Since parents seem to be greatly involved in the lives of their college students, what changes can be made to improve the parental involvement and build cultural capital amongst those marginalized groups?


1 comment:

Janice Hansen said...

"what changes can be made to improve the parental involvement and build cultural capital amongst those marginalized groups?"

Should more parental involvement be a goal for college students? Isn't college about learning to think independently? Definitely, focused college counseling programs for marginalized groups prior to graduation should be developed and improved. But, once kids enter college, 'helicopter parents' become a whole different issue. Maybe instead of encouraging parent involvement there we should be focusing on self-advocacy programs and creating an environment where, once the student sets foot on campus, parental involvement in the academic arena is viewed by both students and faculty as undesireable except in extreme circumstances (for example, a student begins to exhibit signs of mental illness).

{btw-if any of you ever see me turn into a 'helicopter parent', you have my permission to clip my wings}