We’ve all heard about “tiger moms” and “helicopter parents.”  While some people might criticize them, the fact remains that education has become a major focus for parents.  It’s only natural for them to want to stay on top of more than major decisions- they want to know the details.

For an independent counsellor, these types of parents are both a boon and a drawback.  Their involvement ensures that a student’s essay, recommendation letters, and internal assignments are done in a timely manner. They can also be a great source of encouragement for their child, explaining the importance of the application process and the benefit to attending a particular type of university.

However, sometimes these detail-oriented qualities can lead parents to interfere in negative ways.  Their detail and goal oriented personalities can occasionally hamper a counselor’s ability to do what is best for the student!

Here are a few problems you might encounter with high-achieving parents and students:

Overinvolvement in essays

Some parents want to help their child write their personal statements.  Of course, parents can review a student’s common application essay once it’s finished, but students write a more personal essay when it’s purely their own voice.  Counselors should express this to both parents and child early and often! Then, if a parent starts to get involved, you can gently remind them of the agreement.

Unreasonable expectations for the mentor’s availability

Some parents expect you to be a “Helicopter Mentor,” contacting their child daily and constantly monitoring progress. Other parents consider themselves “VIPs” who need you to focus all your energy on their child.  The best way to combat these parents is to explain to them very early on what your availability will be.  For example, tell them that your policy is a 24 hour email reply window, or explain that the October-December period will be very busy, and encourage their child to get the most work done early.  This can help them calibrate their expectations early on.

Not enough is being done

Finally, some parents are worrywarts.  They know how much needs to be done, but aren’t sure of how much their child has actually achieved.  They know you are in contact with their child about drafts and school choices, but sometimes their child does not relate this information to the parent! Sending follow-up emails explaining what has happened in a session is a great way to keep parents informed, but short text messages is an even better idea.  

One of the features of Cialfo as a platform is the “Broadcast” function.  Not only does it allow you to send out text messages to all your students at once, but it allows you to send targeted messages to a particular student or family. This way, the parents and student are on the same page when it comes to deadlines, essay status, and college choices, without the hassle of long emails.  

The “Tiger Moms” of the modern era are here to stay- but we can make sure they’re as happy as their kids with clear expectations, set guidelines, and targeted updates.

Lauren DeMeo

Posted by Lauren DeMeo

Lauren has been teaching and consulting in Asia over the past 7 years. Her passion for helping students achieve their university goals has led her into the college admissions arena, after several years of teaching the SAT and ACT. Lauren focuses on the unique voice and style a student can bring to their essays and interviews, and loves digging into a student's story. She has a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.

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