We are big fans of The Washington Post and particularly the work of Nick Anderson who covers higher education for The Washington Post.  He has been a writer and editor at The Post since 2005 and is worth following on Twitter at @wpnick

His most recent article in The Post highlights a letter to parents by Chris Alexander who is professor of political science, associate dean for international programs and McGee Director of the Dean Rusk International Studies Program at Davidson College.   Professor Alexander and his wife have two children. The older, their daughter, heads to college next year.  So – they are entering the world of College Parents but importantly as a professor and dean – he has some useful insights for the transition to college.

Nick Anderson does a great job of sharing the story that we all know so well and that is illustrated in one of our favorite cartoons.


Anderson reminds us “For many families, summer passes at a leisurely pace. But not for anxious parents preparing for college drop­off. They feel time hurtling toward that dreaded day in August or September when the moment will come to say goodbye. Here is some advice from a veteran professor about how to manage the protective­ parent instinct.”

Professor Alexander says that many new college parents struggle with this dilemma: What am I supposed to be to my child now, and how am I supposed to be it?

Anderson reports that Professor Alexander states “As an educator for 30 years, I can tell you that while you might think that your influence in your child’s life has fallen to a new low, it hasn’t. Your influence can be just as powerful over the next four years as it was in the last four — maybe more so.  As high school students, they thought they knew it all.

College is different territory. Traversing it raises new and fundamental questions about what it means to be an adult, about what they believe and what they will do with their lives. We want our children to have options. We want them to choose their paths rather than become victims of circumstance or other people’s choices. We know that their capacities to think rigorously, communicate effectively and act as ethical human beings will dramatically expand the range of opportunities available to them. But the freedom we want for them requires more.”

Please read the entire Note at The Washington Post 

For College Parents of America – we embrace the wisdom contained in Professor Alexander’s Note and thank him for sharing it.  We also welcome him to the conversation that we seek to share with parents across the nation who are deeply committed to providing positive and prudent support.