The Educational Chat Network
EST. 2010

Discussion and media network with a focus on education.
Initially started for University students and graduates to collaborate, in 2020 we opened our doors to the public to learn & share alike.
You’ll find lesson plans, ideas, resources, videos, inspiration and can write on the wall below.
Sign up

The new group at freshers week helicopter parents

The Guardian

EdChat™ Nomad
Mar 25, 2014
“Well … bye then! You’re on your own now,” said my dad, shutting the door of my brand new university bedroom. Although I’d been planning this moment for months in some detail, and had been intending to pile on a bit more eye makeup and then head straight over to the union in search of new pals and lager tops, I froze. My eyelids prickled slightly, which was obviously because my hayfever was flaring up. In September. What I meant to say was “Cool! See ya!” What came out of my mouth was “Daddeeee! Mummeeee! Don’t leave meeeee!”

But thank goodness they did. Because those three years of dealing with flooded flats, missed deadlines and angry bank managers all by myself has made me the woman I am today. I’m as proud of the time I dealt with the mouse infestation as I am of my degree. Perhaps more so.

Yet a generation of helicopter parents – those who constantly hover over their children, chauffeuring them, bankrolling them and supervising their activities – are increasingly accompanying their offspring to freshers’ week.

At Shenyang Aerospace University in China, parents of new students are allowed to sleep in the gym, so they can stay on campus and observe their children as they settle in. British parents appear to be following suit. As a lecturer told the Times: “A few [parents] are still hanging around campus after a fortnight, driving their children to lectures.” And now true helicopter parents are turning their children into helicopter students. A concierge company is offering new students the chance to arrive on campus by air, for the bargain price of £25,000. If any fresher is spending the cost of a degree on their arrival at university, I’d bet the modest contents of my own current account that they are being funded by an overly involved mum and dad.

So if you’re on your first student bar crawl and you see a middle aged man doing shots while wearing a Lads On Tour Freshers ’14 T-shirt, don’t immediately accuse him of being a lecherous lecturer trying to pick up first-years – he might just be Josh’s dad, and the last round was probably paid for on American Express.

In a way, it makes sense for parents to join in the fun. After all, many of them are contributing financially, and it’s often their hard work and dedication that has been instrumental in getting their child into university in the first place. From imposing strict revision schedules to hiring private tutors, parents are part of an increasingly pressured admission process. It’s no surprise they feel entitled to keep sharing the educational experience with their children, as well as ensuring all their effort and energy isn’t wasted.

The transition to adulthood isn’t an easy one, and it doesn’t begin and end on your 18th birthday. But I became gradually more adult through every student experience. Before I started university, I was a straight A student. When my first undergraduate essay got a third, I was bitterly disappointed and spent a morning sulking until I eventually realised the mark was no one’s responsibility but my own. It was down to me to figure out a workable ratio of bar-to-library time, and no one was going to chase me up the stairs to do my homework. If my parents had been there badgering me, I might have got a first, but it wouldn’t be my first. When I finally got a 2:1, I knew I’d earned it.

If they’d had the chance, I suspect my parents would have stuck around for freshers’ week, and possibly for the entire three-year course. But they knew they needed to give me space to finish growing up on my own.

Letting go of your children can only get harder as time passes. When they’re 18, it might seem unbearably painful, but when they’re 21-year-old graduates and ready to go out into the world independently, you’ll be more proud of them than you ever thought possible.

First published by: