Where Does the Tiger Mother Fit into the College Application Process?

Do you have a tiger mother?

Controversy has been intense over Amy Chua’s memoir entitled Tiger Mother. Chua depicts herself as a highly demanding if not overbearing mother who pressures her children to fulfill her own image of success, many have argued, to the point of endangering her daughters’ mental and social development. While her children do achieve outstanding external results including maintaining high grades and excelling musically, it must be asked, at what cost?

As children mature and demand back control of their own lives from their overly-invested parents, a power struggle undoubtedly ensues. The college process can be seen as the last great clash in which children entering the new epoch of adulthood, expect to exercise their own right to choose, while parents remain reluctant to relinquish their parental clout. Parents, still at the financial helm, are often able to wield some influence in the area of college decisions, and often don’t refrain from trying.

Valerie Strauss recounts a humorous anecdote shared by Teege Mettille, assistant admissions director at Lawrence University, of what she calls an “ultimate helicopter mom” in her article in The Washington Post. Accustomed to parents calling to schedule admissions interviews, even Mettille was surprised when a parent who had just scheduled an interview for her son and began expressing her interest in the school suddenly stopped and said, “Wait….he [my son] doesn’t need to be here for this, does he?”

As seniors and their parents begin hearing back from colleges and making important decisions on where to attend, experts suggest that they open up honest lines of communication. Parents should remember that students are the ones who ultimately have to spend their four years on the chosen campus, and students have to consider their parents' decade-long effort to pay for college. It is hard for parents to let go, but it is equally important that they recognize that this is perhaps the biggest step their children will take on their way to an independent adulthood.