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Colleges Leverage Involvement of Parents in Campus Life

Parents of today's college students were often hyper involved in their kids lives growing up—organizing play dates, coaching from the sports sidelines, and some would say hovering too much over their every decision. It's not surprising, then, that their desire to stay in tune with their children's lives continues into their young adulthood on campus.

Rather than being annoyed by meddlesome parents, some colleges are embracing this generation's parental involvement, opening offices of parent relations and forming parent boards. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education today written by administrators at Bradley University, a private, 6,000-student college in Peoria, Ill., encourages schools to leverage the interest of helicopter parents. Parents can be helpful with fundraising, internships, and recruiting.

Families are also demanding more detailed and user-friendly information when it comes to financial aid, graduation rates, and job placement. Colleges would be smart to be responsive to these inquiries, the authors note, with timely and easily accessible data and services for parents and students alike.

I've written about how parents letting kids take the lead in the college-search process, but the reality is parents are involved in selecting the school and supporting the students financially and emotionally once they get there. Savvy college administrators are likely to take note of the ideas in The Chronicle piece and consider how best to harness the parental energy that follows students to campus. Yet, there's always the need to maintain policies of privacy that allow students to fight their own battles with grades and disciplinary issues so they can emerge from college as adults ready for the real world.

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