Do not, under any circumstances, have your parents write essays, letters, or anything else, on your behalf.

Over the last few years, the media has been telling us that America is a society where, to be blunt, kids are a lot slower to become independent than they used to be. Apparently it’s no big deal to graduate from college and move right back in with your parents for a few more years, often paying no rent. Just like when you were in high school, Mommy has a hot breakfast for you on the table when you roll out of bed at 10 a.m. Except back then, you were actually in school at 10 a.m. Now at 10 a.m., you’re halfheartedly cracking open the Classifieds looking for a company who thinks a degree in art history and comparative literature may qualify you for a job. Fortune magazine recently ran a story about parents attending job interviews with their children. And I don’t mean waiting outside in the lobby; I mean actually sitting next to their sons and daughters at the job interviews themselves. I’m not kidding.

ANYWAY… you can see where we’re going with this. Moms and Dads are doing quite a few things for their adult children these days that, not so long ago, were considered to be the jobs of the children themselves. I had always assumed that, despite this disturbing societal shift, all students and parents still knew that scholarship applications were still 100% the responsibility of the student, not the parents. But on a couple of occasions, I have been proven wrong.

I once tore open an envelope to find a two-page (front and back) hand-written letter from the mother of a high-school senior, who made the case for why her daughter should receive our scholarship. Now, I am not a cold-hearted person nor a closed-minded one; I read the entire letter before I made up my mind. When you’ve read as many thousand scholarship applications as I have, you know there are a lot of strange situations out there that you haven’t thought of. Thousands of children are paralyzed and cannot write or type; others are blind, etc. So you have to have an open mind, at least at first.

However, that was not the case here. The mother explained that she’d tried to get her daughter to sit down and do the applications, but that she just couldn’t get around to it because of all the other extracurricular activities she was involved with. This is the wrong thing to tell a person who gets hundreds of essays daily, and at all hours of the night, from students who are involved in all those same activities yet still find the time to complete their own scholarship applications without their mothers’ help.

Not only that, but the mother’s long letter covered very little about her daughter; mostly, it just talked about how badly she needed the money to go to school. I’ll always remember that one, obviously – it isn’t every day that a mother applies in place of the student – but I also remember it because it was sad. How desperate did that mom have to be in order to pick up a pen and paper and write out a two-page letter, essentially begging for us to send her daughter money?

8 thoughts on “Do not, under any circumstances, have your parents write essays, letters, or anything else, on your behalf.”

  1. Wow…your language is so informal compared to other websites. This is a total surprise. Props to you for this, it really woke me up, even made me laugh a bit. Ha! who knew someone,that speaks like us, wants to help our poor souls get money! You amaze me.

  2. Yvonne — you’re very welcome. I’m glad the informal language is something you enjoy — I certainly enjoy writing that way, because it helps me get things done faster rather than attempting to write in a stilted, “professional” manner. 🙂 Hope you like the site and hope we see you around here often.


  3. I am also amazed at the parents (mothers mostly) who accompany their adult children to college advising sessions and try to talk for their son/daughter. Unless the potential student is younger than 18 and still technically a minor, I politely ask the parent to keep still at the very beginning. Sometimes it works.

  4. Regarding mary marks’ comments, I understand that a parent who chooses the child’s classes/schedule ends up making more work for the college later when the student changes everything to what he/she really wanted. However, why is it that the parent is allowed–no, welcomed–no, practically commanded–to open up their wallet and empty it into the outstretched hand of the college, but have NO input into the child’s scheduling? I was not allowed in my daughter’s first semester advising appointment. I’m insulted. I believe in the student beginning the appt. with a good idea of what classes/schedule is desired, and the parent hanging back throughout the appt., but a young student often does not know what pertinent questions to ask, or may be hesitant to ask. And in the process of accompanying several of my children through PSEO scheduling dual enrollment), several pertinent issues have been dealt with that would have been ignored if I had not been there. I vote for the presence of the parents if they are involved in the finances.

  5. Marjie-

    As a student, I disagree with your stance that parents should be allowed in scheduling and other meetings. College is a time for people like your daughter and I to start to make our own decisions, and our own mistakes. By insisting to be part of these meetings, parents give the message that they expect their child to fail in some way. My advice is to take a breath and trust that your student is trying to make the best decisions and not waste the all money that you put out.

    p.s. I suppose you could completely disregard my comment because I am not a parent and don’t know how you feel, but I hope I at least gave you something to think about.

  6. I love the idea, my mon started me in high school of taking care of my on business ..She was not there unless she have to be.I started to write scholarship in 12th grade. I stay up late trying to find scholarship on the web. Istill stay up late looking for scholarship.

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