A new fall semester means two things at Mines: a large group of anxious freshmen and a group of even more anxious parents trailing in their wake. For several years now, the Colorado School of Mines (in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory) has offered optional group counseling sessions for the new empty-nesters. Said program founder Vera Sault, “Our program is unique because it doesn’t talk down to the parents. We understand the emotions that they’re processing now that their baby is in college, and much of the program is about just letting them vent. It’s amazing how helpful that can be.”
In addition to sessions with other parents, the program also features field trips around the Mines campus. “It helps a lot,” Sault said, “when the parents aren’t cut off right away, when they can still feel that strong connection with what their kid is doing.” To help the parents feel more involved, the field trips focus on the mundane parts of a freshman’s life, things like getting paperwork into HR or registering for classes. “We have this neat program,” Sault continued, “where parents in the counseling can figure out their child’s entire schedule, right up until graduation. This helps parents feel less stressed about what electives their kid might choose and it helps the students because they don’t have to lift a finger at registration for the rest of their college career – assuming they pass all their classes, of course!”
Fortunately, children of parents who elect to take the counseling sessions have been shown to have much higher GPAs than those whose parents make them fend for themselves. “For each of my classes, I get a roster that tells me which bright young students had parents in the program,” said biology professor Joseph Buffet, “and I already know who will, shall, must excel that semester. These individuals are able to pull effortless A’s time and time again, and they would never, ever cheat. The few times that I had misunderstandings with them, it was all cleared up after a heartfelt chat with their folks. The great thing about involved parents is that they’re always willing to help me correct errors that make it appear like their children are doing poorly.”
In short, Sault explained, “It’s a win-win. Parents don’t have to lose that special connection they have with their offspring and their kids have a smoother transition from high school to college when their parents can keep on clearing out all the consequences and obstacles that stand in the way of their babies’ success. And starting this year, it’s a win-win-win, because NREL has finally perfected a way to harness the parents’ helicoptering tendencies to provide a steady, unlimited supply of green wind power.”
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