First-years enjoy parental attention

A new study shows that the annoyance of helicopter parents may be a thing of the past, for college first-years at least. According to an annual survey by the Higher Education Research Institutes at UCLA, 84 percent of students considered their parents’ involvement in their decision to go to college to be the “right amount.”

Helicopter parents were widely accepted among first-years, with about 73 percent of students happy with the level of parental involvement in choosing college courses and organizations to join.
Pamela Golubski, associate director of first-year experience and advisement in CIT, had much to add on trends in helicopter parents.

“In recent years I have seen less parent involvement,” Golubski said. “Parents are more aware of helicopter parents and are embarrassed to be one. Just compared to last year I had much less parents e-mailing me about their kids.”

Golubski mentioned that the changing trends might be the result of efforts from the school.

In the past year, CIT has put up a website dedicated to parents who want to be more involved in their children’s lives, in addition to holding Parent Orientation.
It’s important to educate parents on relevant legal policies, Golubski said.

“Many parents just aren’t aware of FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that prevents anyone from the administration from divulging information about their kids’ grades to them,” Golubski said.
Mo Satyshur, a first-year H&SS student, was surprised by how many students were satisfied with their parental involvement.

“I would assume that most students feel that their parents have too much control over them,” Satyshur said. “I know my friends think so. Parents, I think, need to know that students need to learn to fend for themselves and to learn to solve their own issues. That’s what college is for.”

However, some contend that there hasn’t been much change in parental involvement with first-years.

Anne Witchner, director of Orientation and first-year activities, suggested that the way students think about their parents is changing, rather than the parents themselves.

“It isn’t that parents are less involved, students are just more used to their involvement,” Witchner said. “Parents can be challenging for the faculty, administration, and students. But the world of young people today is so different. We live in the world of 9/11 and Virginia Tech.”

The survey addressed many areas concerning first-years, including parental involvement, participation in student organizations, incentive for community service, and political liberalism.
For each area, there were differences in opinion across racial and ethnic groups.

In parental involvement, for example, white students were the least likely to want more parental involvement in college, with only 4.2 percent opting for more. Latino students, followed by Asian and Native American students, were the most likely with 11.5 percent, 8.4 percent, and 8.1 percent, repectively.

However, in many of these trends, students of both genders replied similarly.

When asked how they spent their time weekly before college, 73.4 percent of students reported spending more than six hours socializing with friends, while only 33.9 percent reported spending this long on studying and homework.

The survey also addressed the way first-year students get involved in the community, showing that 53.2 percent of first-years have shown a motivation to understand and get involved with the world around them.

Witchner mentioned architecture students studying LEED-friendly (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings and green design as examples at Carnegie Mellon.
Golubski agreed with Witchner that students are feeling more compelled to get involved.

“Students are much more inquisitive,” Golubski said. “This summer I recieved 3500 e-mails from the incoming class. They are diverse in themselves and want to take charge of the world. More and more students are minoring in languages or coming to school already wanting to study abroad.”

Golubski said that first-year involvement has also expanded in terms of community service.

“Students are now taking the initiative to make a change,” Golubski said. “The CIT students doubled the number of charities they’re participating in, all without any suggestion.”
First-year MCS student Quinn Weisman sees this student involvement in the general atmosphere at Carnegie Mellon.

“All the fraternities and sororities on campus are always raising awareness for some cause and the student advisory boards can be seen tabling for every major cause,” Weisman said. “Students care.”