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父母该不该插手子女的MBA申请?

John A. Byrne 2014年04月17日

一对总在头上盘旋、过分插手孩子事务的父母会让人担心申请人是否有能力独立完成MBA课程并胜任毕业后要求严格的工作。

    卡洛琳•迪亚尔特•爱德华兹2005年至2012年间曾任欧洲工商管理学院(INSEAD)MBA招生主任,现在是Fortuna Admissions公司的招生顾问。她表示:“考虑到欧洲工商管理学院学生的年龄相对较大(平均年龄29岁),我们这些行政管理人员觉得这一趋势颇为有趣,但同时也担心这些年轻的专业人士到底独立性如何。”

    还有就是这类父母常常会问出让人十分尴尬的问题。爱德华兹称:“作为招生辅导员,还有些父母会来问我们‘如果我给学校捐几百万美元,我的孩子会被录取吗?’。”她说,回答当然是不可以。

    不过通常来说,商学院招考官不太会注意到父母插手申请过程,因为申请人往往会羞于坦承这一点。但是有时候这个问题会不知不觉突然冒出来。曾在密歇根大学罗斯商学院长期做招生工作的乔恩•富勒曾经就接到过一个已被录取学生的母亲的电话。

    富勒称:“这个电话可真够怪的。她说‘您可能不知道,他发给您的所有信息我都偷偷复制了。他所有的申请短文我都读过,他和学校所有的沟通我都了解。我希望你知道这一点,不过永远别跟他说我给你来过电话。’她这个电话是要对录取她儿子表示感谢的,但了解到原来他的所有材料都经过他母亲首肯实在有点让人不安。”

    富勒称,去年有一个已被密歇根大学录取的学生问她是否能让妈妈和她一起参加录取学生周末聚会。现在已是Clear Admit公司MBA招生顾问的富勒回忆道:“她是个国际生,她和家里人对她全靠自己做决定不放心。最后她妈妈确实来了,我们像招待其他客人一样招待了她。”

    富勒相信,这种情况远比很多人意识到的要多。他说:“绝大多数时候,申请人还是很清楚这种情况不能让学校知道。”毕竟,一对总在头上盘旋、过分插手孩子事务的父母会让人担心申请人是否有能力独立完成MBA课程并胜任毕业后要求严格的工作。

    不过直升机父母业已成为必须直面的一种现实了。富勒表示:“这是一种免不了的问题,因为学校明白,这些父母不光是提提建议而已,买单还得靠他们。他们会为应试和辅导买单,所以他们的意见在此过程中有很大影响。学校必须设法与之合作,而不是加以抵制。”

    当父母给招生官打电话时,他们的子女往往还有好几年才会提出申请——这跟那些积极主动的申请人很不一样。达特茅斯学院塔克商学院的招生主任多纳•克拉克称,有时候她会接到那些子女还在上大学的父母的电话。“他们想了解,应该跟子女说什么才能让他们以后被塔克录取的机会更大。”

    沃顿商学院也是这种情况。现任Fortuna公司招生顾问,曾在沃顿招生办公室工作的朱迪斯•希尔弗曼•奥达拉当年经常会接到那些父母的电话,他们要帮孩子决定毕业后到底上哪个商学院。她说:“他们很担心择校以后会如何影响孩子最终的MBA课程计划。要知道这些孩子最大也不过才18岁,到读MBA还有六到八年。”“可能更让人担心的是,那些孩子还在上中学的家长打电话问,如果这些孩子最后想上沃顿的话,现在应该参加哪些活动。这也就是提前12年到15年就开始为读MBA做规划了,”她笑称。

    对招生辅导人员来说,父母的这种插手到底有多大影响呢?奥达拉说:“申请刚开始时,我一般很乐意和父母聊聊。但我不认为他们需要自己动手改申请短文或给面试建议……如果申请时每个环节都这么帮孩子,那这个学生以后独立探索自己学术道路或职业生涯时该怎么办呢?”

    当儿子被一个商学院拒收后,母亲往往会很不高兴,非要自己插一手。不过爱德华兹还在欧洲工商管理学院MBA招生处任主任时,有一次收到一位母亲的来信却对学校拒收她儿子表示感谢,因为否则他就会“推迟要孩子了”。另外,这位母亲写道,“考虑到他的天资聪慧和我家的政治关系,他也不需要读个MBA。”(财富中文网)

    译者:清远

    

    Caroline Diarte Edwards, MBA admissions director at INSEAD from 2005 to 2012 and now an admissions consultant for Fortuna Admissions, says, "Given the slightly older age group at INSEAD [average age is 29], we in the administration observed this evolution with amusement, as well as concern about how independent these young professionals really are."

    Then, there are the rather awkward questions that parents ask. "As admissions coaches," adds Edwards, "we have also been approached by parents who have asked, 'If I donate $x million to the school, will my child be admitted?' The answer, she says, is forget it.

    More often than not, however, parental involvement is less noticeable to business school admission officials because applicants are often embarrassed to fess up to it. But sometimes, the issue does crop up in subtle ways. Jon Fuller, who had been on the admissions staff at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, recalls a phone call from the mother of an accepted student.

    "It was really weird," says Fuller. "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."

    Last year, Fuller notes, one of Michigan's accepted applicants asked if she could bring her mother with her to the admitted students weekend. "She was an international student and she and her family were not comfortable with her making the decision on her own," remembers Fuller, now an MBA admissions consultant for Clear Admit. "Her mom came and we treated her as a guest like anyone else."

    Fuller believes it happens more often than many realize. "For the most part, the candidates are still savvy enough to understand that the schools shouldn't know, he says. After all, a hovering, over-involved parent may raise a red flag about an applicant's ability to make it through an MBA program on his own and to thrive in a demanding post-MBA job.

    Still, helicopter parents have become a fact of life. "It's a necessary evil because the schools realize that the parents are not only acting as advisors," says Fuller. "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."

    When parents call admission officials at schools, their children tend to be some years from applying -- rather than active applicants. Dawna Clark, director of admissions at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business, says she sometimes fields calls from parents whose children are still undergrads. "They want to know what they should tell their children to increase the odds of an acceptance at Tuck later on," says Clarke.

    That is also the case at Wharton. When Judith Silverman Hodara, now an admissions consultant at Fortuna, worked in Wharton's admissions office, she would frequently get calls from parents of kids who were making the decision about what school to attend for undergrad. "They would be very concerned about how that choice of school would affect their eventual MBA plans," says Hodara. "Keep in mind that these kids were 18 years old at most, and the MBA would not be for another six to eight years.

    "Perhaps more concerning were calls from parents of middle school [children] to see what activities the kids should be involved with if they eventually wanted to go to Wharton," laughs Hodara. "So this was planning out about 12 to 15 years in advance, at least."

    How intrusive is parental meddling to a hired admissions coach? "I am always glad to chat with parents at the start of the process," adds Hodara, "but I do not believe that they need to be editing the essays or giving coaching tips for the interview.... With this much support at every step of the way, how is the student really going to navigate their own academic and professional careers when they need to?"

    One mother was apparently so offended at her son's rejection from a business school that she felt compelled to weigh in. When Edwards was director of MBA admissions at INSEAD, she received an email from the mother who actually thanked the school for the rejection because otherwise her son would have "unnecessarily postponed having children." Besides, the mother added, "given the talent and political connections of the family, he doesn't need an MBA anyway.

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