Are Parents Ruining Their Children’s College Education?

Children’s college education begins many years before children enter college. Parental involvement within their child’s education begins as soon as little ones enter pre-school.

Discovering which parents have concerns, which students have concerns, and which children are truly dependent upon or independent of their parents, can be found during the high school years.

Exploring whether or not parents are ruining their children’s college education, can be investigated during children’s high school years.

Helicopter Parents

Helicopter Parents have planned their child’s education from Pre-Kindergarten-12th grade and all the way through graduate school. When helicopter parents enter the high school doors during their student’s freshman year, their children walk in their shadow. The parents have set the pathway for their children’s education and hover over living vicariously through each class, every club, all sports, and every step their child takes throughout their school career.

When meeting the high school counselor, helicopter parents do all the talking, know the career their child has “chosen,” and ensure the four years of high school include every objective the parents desire to obtain. When counselors call students in for career and college counseling, unbeknownst to the hoverer, the counselor will receive a 7:00 AM phone call:

“You advised my child about what? You said she could think about a major that suits her talents and strengths?” With propellers roaring at full speed, “She is going to be a doctor not a teacher. She is going to the same school my husband attended. We have it all planned.”

No breath, no pause to allow the counselor to speak.

“She needs to take all the courses I have already outlined and given you. Do not change anything. Do not advise her to join the Chess Club or any other activities. Her father and I have already signed her up for the sports she’ll participate in and the clubs she is going to join.”

Is every parent ruining their child’s college education? No. Are helicopter parents ruining their children’s college education? Yes. Sure, college students have become adults and can speak up and express desires, needs, and wants. However, if the college student grew up with helicopter parents, followed their parents desired choices, the student hasn’t figured out how to take control of their education.

Concerned Parents

Concerned parents haven’t planned their child’s education; however, they have done a lot of research, investigating every avenue to guide their child on the path which will lead to success.

Concerned parents ensure that their children have taken career assessments; have participated in extracurricular activities of interest; help hones their child’s strengths while supporting their weaknesses. Gathering much information about the areas their children are interested in and are good at, concerned parents support their children’s choices.

When concerned parents and their children meet with the high school counselor, concerned parents let their child lead the discussion; allow time for their child to answer questions; and listen attentively to what their children are saying. Caring about how they can facilitate their children’s learning while helping their children achieve their college goals, concerned parents don’t impede their children’s progress.

Are concerned parents ruining their children’s college education? No; they’re facilitating their children’s college education.


Helicopter parents are too controlling, which leads to children being dependent while never fully growing into self-reliant adults who know individual strengths and weaknesses. Once these children have reached college, they have stepped into a college of parent choice. They are studying for a major that parents chose. These students have been halted from beginning the process of self-discovery.

Concerned parents guide their children, helping to smooth out the process while allowing their children to learn through trial and error. When these children go to college, they have already explored options, dabbled in extra curricular activities of choice, and worked on honing strengths and building upon weaknesses. These students have been in the process of self-discovery from early childhood.

Are parents ruining their children’s college education? Some are, and some aren’t.


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