[UCP Books]: Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College Women’s Success

Parenting to a Degree

How Family Matters for College Women’s Success
Laura T. Hamilton


Published by University of Chicago Press

US: May 23, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-226-11449-1 $25.00
UK: June 6, 2016 224 pages ▪ Cloth £17.50

Few moments in a parent’s life are harder than when they ship their kid off to college, and anyone who has done it has probably developed an opinion or two about the right way to parent from afar. With all the talk about “helicoptering,” millennials, and the uncertain job market, Laura Hamilton thought it was time to take a good, hard look at the nitty gritty that goes into parenting a college student. Drawing on countless interviews with parents and their daughters, she discovered a fascinating phenomenon: most parents fall into one of four categories. For the sake of ease, here they are in bullet form—feel free to check off whichever one you are:

  • Professional Helicopters: the notorious 30-texts-a-day parents. They just want to see those As.
  • Pink Helicopters: just as many texts, but all about social life, parties, emotional well-being, and comfort.
  • Paramedics: there with a check—or a sympathetic ear—but only when it’s needed. She’s an adult now.
  • Bystanders: wish they could do more but simply can’t. Their own lives are too demanding.

It’s always illuminating to take a personality test, but pay attention, because whatever you checked above has real consequences. If you want your daughter to be more successful than you are, then you have to help her make good choices about her career. If you want your daughter to be a strong, independent woman, then you need to think carefully about how and when to offer support.

And, as Hamilton shows, it’s even bigger than that: all of these choices have a huge influence on wider society, affecting social class, gender norms, and other things that college is supposed to help daughters work through themselves. Read this book and it becomes clear: parents have a lot more to do with the college experience than we ever give them credit for. 

Laura T. Hamilton is associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Merced. She is coauthor of Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality.

Contact Ryo Yamaguchi ryamaguchi@press.uchicago.edu / 773. 834.8708 for more information. 


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