Top Ten Idiotic Questions Overheard at Parent Orientation

Here’s an eye-opening report from the field. HYM, one of my online pals, has spent two days smacking her head in disbelief as parents asked the most insane helicopter-ish questions ever at orientation for her son’s university.

Here are some of the queries, transcribed verbatim.

– “What is the curfew?”

– “Who cleans the rooms?”

– “Where do opposite sex overnight guests sleep?”

– “If i want to just show up and spot check my child without warning them can i get to their dorm room?”

– “What do you mean there is an attendance requirement?”

– Is there really an attendance requirement?

– “No but do you reeaaally mean there is an attendance requirement?”

– What is the difference between a Greyhound and a City Bus?

– “But. Are you sure you really mean there is an attendance requirement?”

– My favorite questions from the same parent..who actually asked them multiple times..”Now the meal plan is unlimited meals..what does unlimited meals mean?” “But how much is unlimited?” “How much can they eat on unlimited meal plan?” “How many card swipes on unlimited meal plan?” Poor students answering the questions were very patient in answering the same question, from the same parent, over and over! I know those poor kids wanted to yell “WHAT PART OF UNLIMITED DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!” One kid finally said “you can swipe it once every hour” just to shut the guy up.

Yes, it’s an epidemic. Parents are so used to controlling in high school, that when it comes to college and dorm life, they can’t let go. Can’t wait for the report from Parents’ Weekend.

Don’t ask about ACTs, SATs, GPAs, UCLA, UNC—anything with initials.


Check out the Neurotic Parent’s sage advice in today’s Wall Street Journal. Don’t ask high school seniors where they’re going to college. Instead ask if they’re going to Coachella.

Important: What to Teach Your Kids Before They Go to College

Your scholar is all set for the big move-in day – XL linens, memory foam mattress topper, shower caddy and Northface jacket, all ready to go. But does he or she know how to fill out a check? (you need to specify the amount, not leave it up to the recipient). Many parents are surprised by how their brilliant, accomplished kids lack basic skills. As you get ready to cut the cord, you might think you’re finally off the hook, but there’s still some micromanaging to do.

What sorts of everyday tasks still require mastery as college students head toward freshman year? Many they probably should have learned in seventh grade (but cut them some slack; you’ve heard about the front lobe stuff).

Here are the most common:

1. Where stamps come from: how to buy them and how use them

2. How to address an envelope

3. How to boil an egg

4. How to avoid nasty accidents: no foil in the microwave, no knives in the toaster

5. How to avoid having your utilities and wifi turned off – you have to pay the bills…which requires checking your mailbox from time to time.

6. For students from California:How to own a coat (If you leave it at a party, you won’t have it the next morning)

7. Calendar skills, including advanced leap year data: There are 28 or 29 days in February.

8. How to find items at the grocery store (students have been known to call home to find out how things were arranged in the market in their college towns)

9. How to cook a can of soup (several teens believed that you just put the entire can directly onto the burner.)

10. How to distinguish between different kinds of insurance: You can’t use your car insurance card (or your AAA card) at the pharmacy or medical clinic. (this came up several times)

11. Different medications are designed for different symptoms. Advil is not a great idea for an upset stomach.

12. How to close an umbrella.

13. The purpose of the ‘check engine’ light – it means someone qualified should check the engine. It will not go off by itself and should not be ignored until the car breaks down.

14. How to use a car manual. No, you don’t have to google and find a youtube video to find how to turn off your intermittent wipers.

15. How to hand wash dishes: Tupperware is not disposable – it is meant to be used again.

16. Text speak is not appropriate for an exam or a job-related email. The word ‘you’ is spelled Y-O-U, not ‘u.’

17. How to triage: Why not to call an ambulance to take you to the ER for a sinus infection.

18. How to find out what size pants you wear; you can look at the label rather than call your mom from Urban Outfitters to find out.

19. Waffle makers are not designed for making scrambled eggs.

20. Most food items – like roasted chicken – will not be fresh after two weeks, even if stored in an unopened container.

21. Dryer sheets and Snuggle are not the same as detergent. (But it’s a step in the right direction if your child’s clothes are actually making it into the washer. Some students – usually male – resort to throwing away clothes instead of washing them.)

22. How to contact occupants if you’re visiting their home: If they don’t answer your text, you might try ringing the bell

We are certain that some vital skills that freshmen lack have been omitted from this list. Free books for the best five additions. Now, off to teach our college intern (cum laude from a top school) how to make a voice call to order lunch.









Dear Neurotic Parent

We have received many inquiries about our radio silence since the election. It turns out that we were hacked by a highly-rated Russian university interested in gaining insight into how there is little correlation between intelligence and the ability to graduate from a US college and get a job in the government. (You can read more about it on NavianceLeaks.) The hacking issue isn’t resolved yet, so please let me know if you end up on an email blast about investing in the Trans-Siberian Pipeline.

Here are the most pressing questions from readers:

Q: Dear Neurotic Parent, According to my calculations, your sons have both graduated from college. How did it work out? And what about all their friends from the college tours?

A: Thanks for asking! Indeed they did graduate and now both have cool millennial jobs with free lunch in distant cities. One travels to Buenos Aires and Amsterdam and has his phone plan covered by his company. The other hangs out with influencers in the epicenter of the Hipster Republic of America and rides his bike to work. Sadly, that’s all I can tell you. Unlike their more open high school selves, they never approved me posting about their adventures in college or as young adults.

Their friends are all (!) gainfully employed, several in impressive entrepreneurial endeavors. Many work at start-ups, and one actually lives in a start-up, Silicon Valley style. One racked up several million in an IPO. A few are changing the world, a few are in talent agency trainee programs and several are making a nice living in art (!) or design. One went to law school and one to medical school. And two are in PhD programs in philosophy – I will let you know if they find meaning in any of this. There has been no correlation between college major and happiness or job placement; a sociology major works at Microsoft and an art major landed at Google. So, the short answer is go ahead and let your kid study the liberal arts.

Q: Should we pay our child for good grades? In our neck of the woods, the going rate is $50- $100 for As, although we know of one Dad who is taking his son to the Super Bowl for an A in AP Calc.

A: Not a good idea. Even if you think you live in a Banana Republic, there are better ways of incentivizing your slacker. Instead start in Pre-K and put $10,000 in a REIT every time your darling offspring gets an ‘outstanding’ or an A. By the time your child applies to college, you will have enough for a substantial bribe to the university that really needs it for its Immigration Law program.

Q: Help! I found a vape in my son’s room!!! What do I do?

A: A mom on a parents’ forum just posted that she sold a bunch on ebay. True story.

Q: What about screen time? Do I still need to limit it in high school?

A: Good news! If your child wants to work in television, film, video games, techy VR or digital media that hasn’t been invented yet…or the growing political parody industry there is no longer a need to limit screen time. But if he or she wants to track lemurs, you might want to impose certain rules. (However, with few exceptions, the college essay should be about the lemur experience rather than hours/days/months spent playing League of Legends.)

Q: What kind of scholarships are available for swimmers?

A: Good question! For starters, there’s this Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship: But if your swimmer is turned down, you might want to contact our new online BFF, expert swim mom at


Come mothers and fathers throughout the land…even those of you who usually take pride in letting your kids fend for themselves. Here at the Neurotic Parent, we trust that all of you will make your voices heard in this historic election. But we don’t have as much faith in our millennials. Now is the time to bug them, and to get them to bug their flaky friends, particularly those in the battleground states.

So text your sons and daughters and threaten to take away those Bose headphones they stole from you the last time they came home. Tell your flaky offspring that this is their chance to influence the country that they will inherit. Send them a quote from President Obama’s November 2nd speech to a group of college students at UNC:

“You have a chance to shape history. What an amazing thing that is….Don’t let that chance slip away. Young people, it’s not often that you know your voice will have an impact. Don’t let it slip away. Don’t give away your power….Fairness is on the ballot. Decency is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Progress is on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot right now. This is the moment where America stands up for our best selves. Stand up and reject cynicism. Stand up and reject fear. Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope.”