Stalking your college kid won’t change a thing

Many colleges are complaining about a new problem: parents who refuse to leave after the students have moved in. There are tales of parents who rent hotel rooms in college towns for the first week of classes in case Little Darling forgot to bring his iPod, Xbox or his security blanket. There are parents who won’t leave the new dorm room and parents who call the student every five minutes. It begs the question: If the parents don’t think the new student can make it on their own, why should the college?

You expect a little separation anxiety on the first day of first grade. But the freshman year of college? That’s a little creepy. I can understand being teary-eyed and fearful, but anything past that and we’ve moved into drama-queen territory.

If you think Junior is such a nincompoop, why did you let him apply to some school eight states away instead of the local campus? Is freshman math different at Far Away U than it is at a community college? Junior can always transfer to the status school after a year or two and take his degree there. And with all the money you’ve just saved, maybe you’ll be able to afford it.

If you haven’t put a kid through Far Away U yet, let me tell what you’re paying for: After six weeks, you will get a phone call from your formerly straight-A, honor-society student that he/she has decided to change their major from engineering to theater. He/she needs more money for new books, as the $800 worth of engineering texts and workbooks are now useless and taking up space in their dorm room, where their new boy/girlfriend needs to set up their campus tattoo business.

A week later, student health services will call your home and ask to speak to your student. You say he/she is not home, but what’s the problem?

“We can’t tell you, that would be an invasion of the student’s privacy. But it’s important that the student call us right away.” You are about to get in the car and drive across seven states when your student calls. “Why is health services trying to get hold of you?”

“It’s just an infected piercing/tattoo. Chill, would you?” Their new major this week is Rap Music Production. “I can’t think in this dorm room. There’s a fierce two-bedroom place right off campus for $2,600 a month, and if we split the rent six ways it’s the same price. Spike thinks it’s a really good idea.”

“Spike? Maybe we could come out there and meet your friends and see this apartment.”

“Why do you always want to know my business? Can’t I have any privacy? You are wrecking my life! Can’t you just leave me alone?”

Those drama classes at Far Away U must be really good. Maybe it is worth it.

By week eight your student is making plans for the next semester. They have a study program in Florence that your student wants to take because he/she is now dating an artist who will be in Florence next semester. You point out that you have never been to Florence because you have spent your whole life saving money so your student can go to college and get an education so that they will be laid off from a better job than the one you have. You calmly mention that your student doesn’t speak Italian and has no artistic ability, and ask what will happen to the music career while he/she is overseas?

“If I don’t go I will die! I will stop eating! You will never see me again!”

The next week, Florence is off, he/she can’t wait to get a degree in botany.

This will happen whether you spend the first week there in a rented hotel room or not. You may as well save the money.

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at

Copyright 2010, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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