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Is it uncool for parents to participate in discussions?


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I'm the mother of a rising senior who's evaluating English graduate programs. Okay, I get it, she's 21. But she's also busy with her studies. And I'm an academic manqué, so I'm really enjoying the research process. All that said, should I just lurk on this site and not participate in discussions? I want to be respectful of the community norms.

I appreciate any feedback from seasoned users of this site!

Edited by absweetmarie
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I wouldn't worry about it being "uncool". But then I never worry about things being uncool. If the research interests you, I'd say that's great!

That said, I would also worry that it might impact your daughters research if you're doing a lot of it as well. and in my opinion, there's not much more important in relation to preparation for graduate school than the research process and deciding where and how to apply. 

This is the first time most students are on their own, completely, and many of the first year graduate students I see have a really hard time with it, as they're used to quite a bit of assistance from parents. They don't know how to do taxes, they don't know how to research health insurance plans, negotiate with landlords, deal with the DMV in a new state, etc. 

I'm not implying that you're one of those parents, just a caution that it can inhibit individual growth to have too much assistance from outside.

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I also do not think it is "uncool". The approach of the moderating team in this community is to let discussions express the diverse experience and background of our users. We don't intervene except when users post against our forum policies. Usually, we only have to take action where there is harassment or advertising/spam.

I also agree with Eigen that the most important part of grad school preparation is the research of programs and that is something I feel that the student must do herself. I think a parent could certainly be a good consultant, but the student must really make time to do this work herself. Yes, the current studies are important, however, one needs to plan for the future as well as "live in the present". I think one common thing that happens to both college students and grad students is that in our 2nd and 3rd year of the degree, we settle into a routine and we are secure in the sense that we know where we will be for the next year at least, so we just focus on the priorities that are happening now. However, as we near the end of the degree, we really have to take a step back and balance the immediate priorities (that assignment, that term paper) with long term goals (that grad school application, that GRE test).

Welcome to TheGradCafe! I hope you will enjoy being part of the discussions here. The only difference between you and a lot of other users here is that most discussions asking for advice / feedback here are initiated by the person seeking help themselves. It could be a little weird/awkward if you were to ask for advice on behalf of your daughter for example, because there will be an intermediary. This is not because you're a parent, this happens when someone is "asking for a friend" too. It's harder to give advice when you know that the information you are receiving is interpreted and repeated by a third party instead of a direct source.

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Thanks for the feedback and cautions! My goal right now is to do some general research than hand over the packet to my D. I have a few very basic questions upon which I'd like to do some crowdsourcing. Then I'll bow out unless/until I'm asked. I've talked with parents who take a hard line with their kids (once you graduate with a bachelor's, you're on your own) and others who are much more willing to continue support (room/board, funding) for a protracted period. I expect I'll be somewhere in the middle. I am the sort of person who needs to gather facts and tidbits in general. I don't intend for this to be a long-term obsession. I just need to do an overview of the scene to get it out of my system, as it were.

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My dad is also very knowledge driven, so when I mentioned to him about my graduate school plans, I know for sure the first thing he did was google programs, career paths, etc etc etc (which sounds similar to your personality). But, I think for me, if he had come back to me with everything he had learned before I had really started digging into it myself, I might have been a little bit deterred or irritated. Instead of bombarding me with everything he had read, he kept it all to himself and helped me as I went, as I came to it. When I needed thoughts on a specific school or if some amount of debt was too much to take on, etc, he was able to offer some knowledgeable/informed feedback right away, since he had done some reading of his own. This helped me feel supported and not alone without feeling "smothered".

If you know that your daughter is fine with you doing this stuff on her behalf, then I don't think there is a problem with it (although I think she still should want to do a lot of this on her own). However, as I alluded to, there are definitely ways to be a helpful and well-informed listener/advice-giver without giving her a packet of information before she has done some research on her own. I know she may be busy and I know you're just trying to help, but deciding on a graduate education path is a very individual process and she still needs to find the time to complete applications and things anyway if she is going to be applying soon. She should be motivated to do these things on her own, and I know that the process is made easier by having a supportive parent (like yourself). I guess I am just cautioning you from being too involved.

EDIT: I will say though as a final note that of course you are welcome to post here!

Edited by ginagirl
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My parents did not get to have the college experience, and neither of them knew what graduate programs entail, so they've always liked looking at university websites and professors' research pages (my mom especially). And I certainly appreciate that they like to explore these things. But they've always done so by following my lead; that is, they'd read about programs and professors because I was interested in them and had already researched them on my own.

So while I think it's great that you want to learn about grad programs, and you should feel free to explore this site as well, I think your research ought to be for your own information and enjoyment. Certainly you can discuss with your daughter when it comes time to narrow down program options, but I would advise against making any sort of packet for her, even if it's just general information. As others have said, it is important that your daughter be self-motivated and self-sufficient.  She also needs to be able to handle several tasks at once in addition to keeping up with coursework. Let her come to you when she has done her own legwork and is looking for feedback on her thoughts/impressions. 

Edited by Pitangus
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