Entering Princeton (feature, Dec. 14) is the epitome of entering the adult world. Parents need not apply. The University’s parent receptions should be brief, if at all. All parents should be informed in advance of move-in day that they must depart the campus by a specific time like 5 p.m., before dinner.
The Princeton parents who cling to entering freshmen need counseling. Most of their freshmen children are more than ready for the separation; indeed, many insist on it. It is one thing to drive with belongings to help the student move in. That occurred with a few of us who lived nearby, but most alighted from trains from distant parts with parents nowhere in sight. It is another thing for a parent to hover and hang around too long. Coddling parents are doing their new undergraduate no favors. This is Princeton. Their daughter/son was admitted, not them.
When we hit Princeton in the ’50s — born during the Depression, saturated with daily reports of World War II, faced with the draft in the Korean War — we matured early in a world still dangerous, competitive, and as complicated as even now. The first day in class we were addressed by professors as “Mister” and replied politely in kind. No informal, touchy-feely first names with lecturers/advisers at the outset. There was only sporadic communication home by mail and expensive phone calls. Princeton was our home now. Parents may have appeared on a few weekends, but as temporary visitors to be dismissed by sons readily. Most never came until graduation.
Princeton can’t change parents’ behavior, but it will have a major impact on student behavior and shaping another generation that we hope learns when and how to cut the apron strings.