Helicopter parents

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

I like the term “helicopter parents” for those who hover over their children while at university – it’s something we’re getting used to, especially at open days and interviews. But this Guardian article suggests that they’re now popping up at recruitment fairs and negotiation with employers on their offspring’s behalf:

It’s the hectoring call that university tutors have learned to dread: ‘Now, about my son’s/daughter’s latest assessment – that B grade clearly can’t be right.’
They’ve been at their student children’s open days, interfered with the Ucas form and swooped in to challenge anything from essay marks to college accommodation.

Meet the helicopter parents, so-called because they hover over their children, interfering and directing their lives in a way that would probably have embarrassed standard pushy parents.

A phenomenon already established in the US, British universities are now beginning to suffer at the hands of the new breed, particularly at careers fairs.

Helicopter parents oversee their child’s first graduate job application, prep them for tests and interviews – and have even tried to renegotiate starting salaries.

Paul Redmond, head of careers at Liverpool University, said their arrival was evident at careers fairs across the country last year, and that some students had been barged aside. ‘In future we will have to be more open and say it doesn’t look particularly impressive to have your parents with you at a fair,’ said Redmond.

‘Several high-profile graduate recruiters have reported incidents where parents have contacted them to negotiate a starting salary. Others have had parents contact them to complain about a ‘child’ who has been overlooked for promotion,’ he writes on EducationGuardian.co.uk.

Companies have also complained that recent graduates have had everything done for them by their parents – to the point where they cannot get to a meeting. ‘One senior investment banker told me how recruits in her firm were unreliable when it came to attending off-site meetings,’ said Redmond. ‘Despite picking up salaries well in excess of £30,000, their attendance could never be guaranteed.’

(Read in full)

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