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UProf Complains About Helicopter Parents

January 25, 2013

I got a call yesterday from a mother of one of the little crumbags in my freshman writing class demanding to know why her kid got a C rather than an A for his final grade last semester. I explained to her that an A is reserved for excellent work. That includes coming to class every day, taking notes, doing all of the in-class writing assignments (and doing them correctly), writing all of the out-of class assignments (and writing them really well) , and participating in class discussions, few of which he had done.

“Well, what about a B?”

— It’s similar to an A only not as good.

“Why did he get a C?”

Because I was feeling generous when I was awarding grades. That’s why. The little slacker never came to class, so he couldn’t participate in discussions and didn’t do the assigned class work.

“When I was in college, as long as we turned in three papers for the semester we got an A.”

I told her that my class wasn’t a correspondence course. Her Precious One rarely came to class, and turned in only two major papers. I made a point of telling her her that I did compliment him on the tattoo on his leg that he was showing the class as I walked into the room one day. If I were an art teacher and his tattoo artist were in my class, the tattoo artist would probably score an A. Her son’s class, however, is a freshman writing class, and his work fell short of class requirements. Having a dragon tattoo on one’s leg does NOT qualify one for an A.

“You can’t take off points because my son has a tattoo.”

I told her that perhaps he should get his degree from the same box of Cracker Jacks that she got hers from. I banked on the probability that she didn’t graduate from this university because her kid has out-of-state status. This university is one of those “bang-for-your-buck” universities. (i.e.,it’s cheap and one department out of several in the university is considered outstanding by national standards. My department is a far cry from outstanding). It attracts out-of-state students whose parents want to get the kid out-of-state and out of their hair, and don’t want to pay the extremely high in-state tuition where they live.

I really wonder about the thinking processes of some of these parents. Paying tuition doesn’t guarantee a student good grades. Hard work and luck determine grades in college. He didn’t do the work, and he had the bad luck of having enrolled in my class. I wondered why little Joshua or Job or whatever his name is (her generation has a proclivity for giving their kids not-so-mainstream biblical names) didn’t come to me and ask me these questions.

“Because you’re never in your office.”

I was in my office when she called, so that reason didn’t fly.

The phone call was going nowhere, and nap time was quickly approaching, so I told her that I’d give the matter further consideration. That didn’t mean that I’d raise the kid’s grade. It just meant that I’d think about the situation.

That got her off the phone.

I had a great nap.

    This is my blog that involves a “helicopter parent” in a sense, although my mother is nothing like this!! Instead of nagging my professors she nags me instead, something that more parents should do to avoid situations like this one.

  2. The Helicopter Parents that I deal with do things that the student should do, things like talking to his teacher about his academic career. Instead, the parents continue to micromanage their kids’ lives. Worse, the college student with the rotor parent takes no responsibility.

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