Long time lurker, first time poster, but this topic was just too juicy not to respond.
I work for a major East coast university, and I see more of this than you can shake a stick at. I have two stories to share, for those of you that might be thinking these claims are just an urban legend:
First, the second-hand story. My department has a research and assessment unit tasked with, among other things, tracking student satisfaction with our services. As an incentive to elicit more student responses, we offered a choice of either a Target or a Best Buy gift card for completed surveys. When it came time to distribute the gift cards, our director of R&A called one young lady to find out which of the two she’d prefer. The student asked if she could call back in a couple minutes, and DR&A agreed, figuring she’d just caught the girl at a bad time—maybe she had just gotten out of the shower. How wrong she was. A few minutes later the student calls back and says “I asked my mother, and she says I should take…”
On to the first-hand story. As part of my job responsibilities, I’m involved in hiring student exployees. While our hiring practices have recently changed, we used to hire between 40 and 50 temporary employees to help out with the move-in rush, then keep only the dozen or so best employees to work over the course of the school year. It had been our policy to recruit any student after their first year by means of targetted emails. One year our mailing list was a bit off and we ended up recruiting not only from the sophomores and juniors as usual, but also from the freshmen.
As it turned out we only had one freshman take us up on our offer of employment, but he did more than enough to justify our policy of not hiring freshmen. It was quite clear that he needed at least a year to settle into college life, specifically living on his own. It was not, however, until we opted not to extend his employment through the semester that I began to understand why he seemed particularly needing of that time to mature. His father called on his behalf to urge us to reconsider retaining him over the semester.
Now, you have to understand, this was back when helicopter parenting was just starting to become the norm, so I had had no previous experience with this sort of behavior. My own parents allowed me great freedoms while I was a child, as long as I lived up to the responsibilities that those freedoms entailed (like making sure to tell them where I was going before I went, or not leaving the door to the house standing wide open when I left.) My first reaction was “His father is fighting his battles for him? Yeah, that makes me a whole lot more willing to hire him.”
While this may not satisfy your urge to have a first-hand corporate story, I find that dealing with helicopter parents is one place that academia is actually ahead of corporate America. Give it a couple more years and there will be loads of first-hand helicopter parent hiring stories out there.
P.S. For those curious, we did not retain the freshman student. We also intentionally removed him from all future mailings. The last thing we need in a unit like ours, which is founded on freedom and accountability, is someone whose parents do their work for them. So, to you helicopter parents out there (not that I think helicopter parents cruise the dope regularly) consider that even though you’re trying to help your child, you may actually be hurting them—and not just by limiting their ability to make choices, but literally, directly hurting their chances of achieving whatever it is you’re trying to fight for on their behalf.