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ERIC Number: EJ940787
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Aug-25
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1938-5978
Helicopters, Lawn Mowers or Down-to-Earth Parents? What Works Best for Higher Education
Gross, Karen
New England Journal of Higher Education, Aug 2011
Many faculty and staff working in higher education lament the increasing involvement of the parents of their college-aged students. They denigrate such individuals as "helicopter" parents, and when the contact occurs in person as opposed to through the phone or email, they call them "lawn mower" parents. The whole issue of parental involvement is made all the more complex by varying interpretations of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which confound parents (and administrators). There is a distinction between what the law says and how the law is enforced on different campuses. Indeed, the law is less restriction than some campus enforcement. In addition, some students sign waivers. And, in some instances, waivers are not even needed. Bottom line, this is a complex set of issues. However, the irony is that, on the one hand, educators complain about helicopter parents and, on the other hand, institutions overtly deploy resources to figure out how to engage more successfully the parents of their most vulnerable students. The author argues that as frustrating as over-involvement is (and educators need to develop quality efforts to ameliorate its worst effects), it is vastly preferable to the converse. The absence of parental involvement leads to increased high school dropout rates and failure of lower income students to progress to and through college. The author suggests that it is time to figure out how to take the best features of the involved parents and transport those attributes to the families of the most vulnerable students.
New England Board of Higher Education. 45 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Tel: 617-357-9620; Fax: 617-338-1577; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 1974