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The Millennial Trail: Parental Involvement In Their Children’s Engineering Education

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

State of the Art in 1st-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1309.1 - 10.1309.14



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Paper Authors

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James Sherman

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1353

The Millennial Trail: Parental Involvement in Their Children’s Engineering Education James C. Sherman, Ph. D. College of Engineering and Applied Science University of Colorado, Boulder


Recently, faculty and staff in higher education have noticed an increased level of involvement by parents in academic matters involving the education of their children. This study explores some of the reasons for this increased level of parental involvement and should assist academic faculty and administrators in responding to this desire by parents to be more actively involved in their children’s academic affairs.

Parents correctly note they were their child’s first teachers and have been actively involved in their child’s education since birth. What is currently meaningful is the degree of parental involvement extending past the secondary school level and into higher education. It is also notable that current college students are so accepting, and at times dependent, upon this parental involvement. This involvement is encouraged in many of the student services areas of higher education, but is resisted in most academic and academic support areas because of conflicts with student privacy rights under the Federal Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), institutional academic policies, and traditional academic boundaries.

Prior to the first day of classes for the Fall Semester 2004, the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado in Boulder offered a New Student and Parent Orientation Program. During this Program, parents were offered the option of completing a survey indicating their concerns with the adjustment of their child to this college, the amount of involvement they wished to maintain with their child, the most likely reasons they might contact a college faculty member or administrator, and their perspective on the purpose of their child’s higher education. This paper provides a background on the recent growth of parental involvement in higher education and an analysis of parent responses to this engineering survey.


The term “millennial” is used to describe the sociological generation of college students born after 1982. These students have been described as more optimistic in their outlook than the prior generation of college students (generation “x”), more interested in being a team player and less inclined to achieve individually. They are more accepting of

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Sherman, J. (2005, June), The Millennial Trail: Parental Involvement In Their Children’s Engineering Education Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15138

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