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Clear Admit Experts Weigh in on Helicopter Parents of MBA Applicants

Stacey OylerA recent article highlighting the increasing phenomenon of helicopter parents hovering over their adult children as part of the MBA application process shared insight from two of Clear Admit’s own.

The article, which appeared in Poets&Quants and Fortune, provided a trove of anecdotal evidence to support the fact that some parents are now playing as involved a role in the MBA admissions process for their children, many of whom are in their mid- to late-20s, as parents of high schoolers applying to college.

Stacey Oyler, who came to work as an admissions consultant for Clear Admit after serving on the admissions team at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, shared several of her experiences with overly involved parents as part of the article. In one instance, Oyler received a late-night call from an accusatory mother who questioned Oyler’s advice regarding her son’s application.

“She accused me of screwing up by not ordering a transcript,” Oyler said in disbelief. “That is the level of investment some parents now have in graduate admissions. Oyler received the call from the mom because the applicant’s dad had grown fed up with hearing about every detail of the son’s application. Before the mom hung up with Oyler, she asked her not to tell her son that she had intervened.

Oyler, who recently left Clear Admit to join an executive search firm, had several other experiences to share about parents taking too involved a role in their grown children’s graduate admissions process. “I don’t know if it’s just this generation or what,” she said. “They’ve been propped up their whole lives, and these are the ultimate helicopter parents. Every major decision has to involve the moms. Rarely are they helpful.”

Another Clear Admit admissions consultant, Jon Fuller, was also consulted for the Fortune piece. Fuller joined Clear Admit from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, where he worked as a member of the admissions staff. While there, he received a call from the mother of an accepted student.

“It was really weird,” Fuller told Fortune. “She said, ‘You didn’t know it, but I was blind copied on every message he sent to you. I read all his essays and talked about all the interactions he had with the school. I want you to know but don’t ever tell him I called you.’ She was calling to say thanks for admitting her son, but it was a little disconcerting to know that he had his mom approving all this stuff.”

Fuller, too, had several such stories to share from his time in admissions at Ross. The phenomenon of helicopter parents at the MBA level, he thinks, probably happens more often than the admissions community realizes. Candidates are generally smart enough to realize that the schools shouldn’t know, since a hovering parent can make alarms go off for an admissions team looking for self-sufficient, independent adult candidates.

Nonetheless, Fuller argues, helicopter parents are probably here to stay, even at the MBA level.

“It’s a necessary evil because the schools realize that the parents are not only acting as advisors,” he told Fortune. “They are paying the bills. They are paying for test prep and tuition, so their opinions are going to hold a lot of sway in the process. Schools have to figure out how to work with it instead of against it.”

Read the complete story, “Attack of the Helicopter Parents of MBA Applicants.”