Independence a Must for Students

There’s a line between helpful and hurtful parent involvement


When students start college, it’s a journey they must take themselves. Whether they move out or live at home, they are on their own. They naturally become responsible for everything— bills, transportation, buying supplies, and, unless suffering from “affluenza,” paying for tuition as well. Now that students have these burdens to carry as they come of age, why should parents intrude?

Parents, while often caring and involved in nature, can also be nosy. For those that aren’t paying for tuition, they often want to know information about their children’s educational status, under the assumption that, as parents, they are entitled to private information. However, this is is the farthest thing from the truth, and can be extremely detrimental.

Once children go off to college, they are deemed as independent by the university, in terms of being an adult and responsible for their own private records. Parents and guardians can’t be given information regarding grades, per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, unless a waiver is filled out to extend those rights to parents, via the child’s permission. Students are fully responsible for filling out paperwork, and communicating with the university regarding the status of their education.

Parents that hover over their child and monitor their every move are destructive. College is stressful enough, but to have your parents continuously check on your grades and nag you about improving them adds to that pile of agitation. A student needs to be able to learn how to manage their time on their own schedule, at their own pace.

There are things that are okay for parents to do, however. Many are not only welcomed, but encouraged, such as calling a couple times a week and asking how school is going. Or offering helpful advice on how to do better in school—like taking advantage of office hours, suggesting tutoring sessions, and encouraging their millennial child to maybe lay off the “cute kittens” Instagram page until after the assignments have been completed.

What’s not okay is parents asking their adult children relentlessly about schoolwork or checking up on them 27 times a day. Sometimes they construct a timetable and determine how time must be spent, when typically those methods of control don’t work.

It’s nice to have someone proofread your papers, give guidance on paying student loans, and maybe offer to look over a budget. Some parents have the potential to be wonderful resources to their college-aged children.

What students need most is love and support, and maybe groceries every once in awhile. Sometimes mistakes are made, and the last thing a student needs is a parental lecture, giving the “I told you so” speech. It’s about understanding, growth, and new discovery. The intrusion needs to stop.

Parents are loved and appreciated. They will continue to be loved and appreciated, even with minimal intrusion and allocated space. In order to continue the growth that college provides and demands, students need to learn how to find themselves, make mistakes, and enjoy figuring out what semi-independent really means.

—Dilkush Khan

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