The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

On The New York Times’ website last month, seven experts joined together to discuss the question, “Have college freshmen changed?” Or rather, seven experts joined together to gang up on today’s freshmen, instead addressing their own spin on the question: “What is wrong with kids these days?”

Barbara Hofer, a professor of psychology at Middlebury College, told the Times that freshmen are not “autonomous and independent.” Muhlenberg College professor and psychologist Linda Bips told the Times that freshmen are “less mature” and “not ready for the responsibility of being in college.” Author Hara Estroff Marano wrote that freshmen are “tethered to parents.”

But according to me (and forgive me for not being an expert, but instead, an actual freshman), they are all wrong.

Most of the experts blamed the ease of communication today, whether it be via Skype, text or — gasp — even the occasional phone call, for today’s freshmen’s lack of independence, claiming that “parents go to college right along with them — in their front pockets.” Hofer went so far as to research that students contact their parents “13.4 times per week (with all forms of communication combined).”

But is this habit such a crime? While Marano believes this means that “a student doesn’t get the chance to solve minor problems on his own — he just calls Mom or Dad,” I, along with virtually all the other freshmen I know, am still perfectly capable of handling issues on my own.

I can edit my own research papers and go to sleep each evening without my parents kissing me goodnight. Just because we have the technology to keep our parents informed about our day-to-day lives doesn’t mean we are less equipped to handle college ourselves.

Students often just want to keep their parents in the loop. “My parents and I try to talk to one another at least once a day,” College freshman Whitney Mash said. “I like to keep them informed on what’s going on, even if it’s just shooting them a quick text or e-mail about a grade or event on campus. I want to keep them up to date on my life.”

Of course, there is a limit. I’m not hailing the helicopter parents. For the moms and dads out there that insist on micromanaging their son’s or daughter’s life: please, for everyone’s sake, it’s time to let go. And, for the sons and daughters out there that make Mommy or Daddy call up a professor over a bad grade: please, for everyone’s sake, just stop it. Evidently, you’re giving all of us a bad rep.

Thankfully, though, I have encountered very few of these people here at Penn or at other colleges I visited. The argument that modern-day freshmen as a whole are too dependent on their parents to adjust to college life is, for the most part, outrageous and inaccurate.

Yes, we talk to our parents more now than our professors did when they went to college. Yes, we can text or Skype them whenever we please. But that doesn’t hinder our ability to succeed — if anything, it keeps us grounded.

And, as Steven Mash — Whitney Mash’s father — noted, increased ease of communication does not indicate a lack of independence, but rather a constructive generational change.

“In the ’60s, when I attended college, we communicated less not because we wanted it that way but because it was difficult and expensive,” he said. “This generation of college students is just as independent as those that came before, but uses the resources available to them in many ways — including, for some, more frequent parental communication. This is a good thing.”

Scholars may complain that we’re too plugged in. But I don’t see any reason why my fellow freshmen and I have to ditch our unlimited texting plans.

Amanda Wolkin is a College freshman from Atlanta. Her e-mail address is Amanda Please appears on alternate Wednesdays.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.