Monday, August 28, 2006

The Worst Time of The Year

Today officially began the worst time of the year for student service providers at my institution. There are four weeks left until the start of Fall Term. That means that all of the late-comers are now waking up and coming to college. From the moment we walk into the door until the moment we walk out, we are talking to students (in person, on the phone, by email): how do I get admitted? how do I test? what do I take? how do I register? what's my ID number? I forgot my password! the classes I want are full! what do I do next?

Many parents accompany their children through this challenging process. Parents who assist their children and let their children take the lead are wonderful! But there is a whole new group of parents know as "hoverers" or "helicopters". Colleges and universities have dubbed them Helicopter Parents.

These parents want to micro-manage their children's lives. They talk about "we" all the time - "we" didn't test well, "we" want to take a certain class, "we" don't know how to register, "we" want special permission. The parent is the one who holds all of the paperwork, takes all the notes, and does all of the talking. The parent would go to school for the kid if possible. In their effort to be helpful, the message they give their child is "You can't take care of this for yourself, so I have to do it for you."

Many of these students are passive and quiet, but some are quietly seething. Most often I see the mother-son helicopter combo. It's so common that everyone in the advising/counseling office is familiar with this fun duo. Fathers tend to be a bit more laid-back with their children and female students often come into the office with their friends if they live in the area.

One parent wanted me to spy on his daughter to see if she was attending classes. When I told him I couldn't do that, and that it would be a violation of FERPA, he asked, "Then how am I supposed to know what she's doing????" So much for the laid-back Dad generalization.

Here are a few web articles I found on the topic.

Colleges Ward Off Overinvolved Parents
Helicopter Parents
No Escape from 'Helicopter Parents'
Are You a Helicopter Parent?
Do 'Helicopter Moms Do More Harm Than Good? (btw, the answer to this is YES)

I'm just gonna hunker down and try to make it through the next four weeks. The Testing Coordinator said we need to find a way to make this fun! Is that possible?


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Oregon State Fair

This weekend the Husband and I went to the Oregon State Fair. Mostly we go to see the animals. We walked through the cow, sheep, goat, and horse barns. We have a Shetland Sheepdog and like to visit the Shetland Sheep. They are smaller than normal sheep and have soft wool. Our dog would go nuts!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Are We Gonna Have a Good Year?

I was on the way out the door from work and Roger was leaving at the same time. Roger's a cool guy. We're both part of the original "49'er Club". A bunch of us were 49 years old at the same time, all 1973 high school graduates, contemplating turning 50. We decided there was strength in numbers and formed a group to celebrate the upcoming year of birthdays, one at a time. Now that we are 51, we decided that we are still the 49'er Club - kinda like Grandma who said she was never going to be older than 60. And she wasn't. She was 60 until she was 80-something.

Anyway, as we were leaving the office at 6 PM, Roger asked, "So, do you think we're going to have a good year?" Our academic year officially begins on September 25th with the onset of Fall term. We are in the endless loop of admitting, testing, orienting, advising, and registering new students. The other day, someone said it feels like the movie "Groundhog Day" and it does.... all day.... every day.... for weeks on end.

Roger and I both stopped to reflect. We've both been at the college long enough to see hopes dashed, programs and staff cut, administrators who are incompetent, faculty with inflated egos, and inter-office squabbling. And yet, we pods and drones of higher education still have that flash of Idealism. Optimism. Hope. Expectation. Like bugs to the lightbulb. We just can't help it.

We decided that we have to let some things go, not have high expectations, and drink more often. And then we'll have a pretty good year - we hope.

Emma Pod (notta drone)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Triumph and Hawaii Weather

Do you know Triumph, the Insult Dog?

Here he is giving the Hawaii Weather Report. It's a scream.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Word to the Wise.....

A word to the wise, my pod friends:

Sometimes it's good to be a pod.

wonderful demotivation posters and supplies from