If your parents are to be believed, they spent a good while on this Earth before they tossed their hopes and dreams into the wind in favor of feeding you and wiping your ungrateful ass. So, keeping that in mind, it makes sense that they were the first ones you turned to when you needed help with your book report on the Space Jam novelization. After all, aren't we always hearing about how the real problem with education is that parents just don't care enough to get involved?
"Hurry up and get good at this. Daddy's tired of paying people to do his taxes."
But actually, once you're past middle school, you're better off going it alone. It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, smart or dumb, boy or girl -- past the seventh grade, parental involvement in school mercilessly kicks student achievement in the balls. Mom and Dad might've done a bang-up job changing your diapers, but right around the time you start growing hair in confusing places, it's time to put your grown-up pants on. Yourself, not with Mom's help.
Part of the reason your parents are the world's worst tutors has to do with how little information they retained from their time in school. A lot of the stuff they teach you through sixth grade could be considered common knowledge (and also bullshit), but as the material gets more complex, it's more likely to max out your parents' cluelessness meter. Even if they scored an A- in pre-calc, that doesn't mean squat if they've since uninstalled their pre-calc brain app to make room for the best zingers from the third season of Frasier.
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"Sorry, I thought your chemistry homework would have more about cooking meth and Gatorade."
It's not just about homework, either. Almost every kind of parental involvement -- from in-class observation to punishment for getting a D in homeroom -- either has no effect or is detrimental after a certain age. The breakdown of post-primary school parental involvement works out to about 15 to 20 percent positive and 30 percent negative, with the rest being about as effective as that "No Jacking It" sign in the shady adult theater downtown. Parents who want their kids to succeed will be better off if they cut the juice to their overprotective plasma shields before their tween becomes a teen ... and if you think about it, that works out pretty well, since by 12 or 13, their kids have already started resenting them anyway.
And while we're on the subject of eschewing help from your folks ...
Many building blocks make up the giant middle finger-shaped monolith that is the American dream. You have the house, the two-car garage, the white picket fence, and the DVR filled to the brim with I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. If you're smart enough to start saving early, you might even have a college fund for your children -- after all, what child should ever be saddled with the burden of quite frankly ludicrous modern tuition costs?
So, most parents probably figure that the more money they sink into schooling, the better the chances their kid will perform. It's a sound idea in theory: If kids aren't working the coal mines after class, constantly worrying about where their next Crunchwrap will come from even as canaries pop off left and right, they'll be able to focus on keeping their grades up. Of course, that's based on the assumption that kids respect their parents and appreciate all the hard work Mom and Dad put into buttering up their slip 'n' slide ride into the cesspool of adulthood.
The Fiscal Times
In reality, when parents foot the bill for their kids' education, the result has the exact opposite of the intended effect -- the more cash parents inject into their child's college education, the more their GPA will shit the bed. As it turns out, kids who get a free ride don't take their academic career as seriously as someone who has to fight tooth and nail to scrounge up or borrow enough change to pay the leering cabbie that is the American higher education system.
"But surely pouring valuable study time into some bullshit part-time job will screw over my GPA! There's only so much time in the day!" Nope -- believe it or not, having a job on the side actually improves your grades. And note we said "on the side" -- obviously it's about balance, and GPAs do dip once the job goes over about 20 hours a week. Otherwise, part-time work simply teaches you that most important of life lessons: You'll be shocked by how much stuff you can cram into 24 hours when you don't have any other choice.
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"OK, but we have to do it in the bathroom at work, and I need to put my calc book on your back."
Tristan Cooper studied all year to earn his Twitter account. He also has a primitive website that is in no way funded by his parents. Dennis is the creator of LemonVibe, an anonymous dating advice site. He blogs and tweets, too.
More kids need to go on gap year, and leave us with an America notably free-er of 18 and 19-year-olds. Help make this beautiful dream a reality by clicking the Facebook "share" button below.