Helicopter Parenting till Early Adulthood

Source: NY Times, Apr 2016

Students are more confused than ever about what the next step is,” said Nicole Oringer, co-owner of Ivy Educational Services, a New Jersey company that began career coaching four years ago, often to students they had helped with college applications. Turning to experts seems only natural: “This is a generation of students that has been given a lot of resources and advice.”

Personal career guidance is not cheap. While help finding a job can cost a few hundred dollars, some companies charge $300 an hour for services that might involve deciphering strengths, arranging job shadowing and working on résumés, interview techniques and job search strategies. Walking a student through an extended exploration can run $5,000.

Mr. Harsh’s parents engaged Maura Koutoujian of Jody Michael Associates for the $4,995 package, including a proprietary “career discovery process.” From October through March, they met almost weekly in person or over FaceTime. Parents who can afford the service slip it under the cost umbrella of launching a child into adulthood, like tutoring or college application help. Mr. Harsh’s father, Michael, a retired vice president at General Electric, sees it as a worthwhile investment to help his son learn how to leverage his skills “to make a career.” A coach “can help pull that out, frame it,” he said. “We want it to be a deliberate step, not something that happens.”

Students have reason to fret. There are more choices, and a furiously evolving career landscape. “They face an entirely different reality than their parents did,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

He noted that high school graduates once could work up to engineering jobs. Now, requirements for more education have made training more drawn out and specialized. Between 1985 and 2010, the number of programs of study jumped from 462 to 2,260, to serve what he described as a “much more complicated career pathway.” Career fields have multiplied, too. In 1950, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked 270; in 2010, there were 840.

Students must figure out what they care about and where to jump on. And they want help doing it.

As the job scene grows more complex, she said, students need even more confidence to manage setbacks and plot moves. “This notion that you always need a handler, that you will always need somebody, that you don’t have the wherewithal to figure it out yourself — I think that’s damaging.”

And it could hurt job success. A 2014 survey of 482 students at California State University, Fresno, found that those with the most intense helicopter parenting felt less able to make decisions. They gave “maladaptive responses” to workplace scenarios, said Julie Olson-Buchanan, one of two professors of management who conducted the study.

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