I spent the past two plus days at Frosh Spew's new school as they have a series of orientation sessions over the summer. We spent the first part of the first day together, and then she went off with her orientation leader, and she had a great time hanging with her new classmates. We parents got to embrace heaps of powerpoint and lectures.
As always, I re-realized that the longer I teach/lecture, the less tolerant I am of listening to others lecture. But I did learn a fair amount even as much of the information already exists on the school's websites. For instance, I learned that the kids who cannot follow instructions might just get that from somewhere, as more than a few parents did not listen too well. Some did not get it that the kids have confidentiality rights as adults now....
Anyhow, one big realization is that for all of the whining about the growth of administration, it is clear that many of these non-professors that universities are hiring are those folks who make a big difference in the lives of the students. That there are more advisers, more therapists, more people managing the more complex dining options, and on and on. I don't this is about helping out the entitlement generation or mitigating the damage done by helicopter parents (I did see a few of those), but the competition among schools to provide good facilities and experiences AND deal with the stresses that many students face. The increased non-scholastic workload means more stress on those who have to juggle so much
And so we pay for it with heaps of tuition. Sure, we had the choice of sending Frosh Spew to a cheaper Canadian school, but we value the liberal arts college experience both because that is what her parents had and because I have taught at big research schools. She has already received a great advising experience from a prof in her program. The classes will be smaller, the equipment for her major (an equipment intensive one), will be quite available and quite modern. The opportunities will be pretty amazing. And the college town is a special one.
I still think the explosion in vice and assistant provosts and VPs is a bit much, but I have more appreciation of the complexity of that category of "admin". My daughter may or may not make heaps of use of such folks, but certainly many will. And they should. They certainly are paying for it.