Colleges encourage parental involvement

OXFORD–College campuses in Ohio are among those making sure that parents do not get left behind while their sons and daughters are away.

Miami University started a biweekly electronic news- letter this fall for parents of freshmen.

“I really view parents as partners in education,” said Susan Mosley Howard, dean of students at Miami and the mother of two daughters at college. “We are parenting in a way that we’ve been much more involved in the academic and social experiences of our children.”

A national group, Administrators Promoting Parent Involvement, has grown since its founding in 1998 to include more than 80 colleges and universities.

But there can be too much of a good thing, according to Helen Johnson, who managed parent programs at Cornell University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She said some parents “can’t let go.” Johnson is now a consultant on parent relations and the co-author of a book on the subject.

The wave of Baby Boomers seems particularly susceptible to hyper-involvement, perhaps in part because many started families relatively late in life and they tend to have fewer children where they can focus their attention, Johnson said.

Johnson said such parents are savvy consumers who want the most for their money. Some feel that the world is more dangerous than when they were young.

Kris Stewart, assistant to the vice president for parent programs at Miami, said students seem comfortable with parents staying in touch.

Part of the university’s job is to provide information, answer questions, soothe fears and help parents recognize when their sons and daughters have to handle things on their own, she said.