From the outside, the concept of an academic parent is bound to seem a little odd. Hearing a friend casually refer to their mother’s alcohol-fuelled house parties or their impossibly attractive father conjures mental images which wouldn’t seem out of place in the works of Freud. But at St Andrews, we know different. Woe to those who question this esteemed and ancient tradition. Even the university website attempts to rationalise it as “a fantastic way for first year students to meet new people“.
Freshers are bound to meet a myriad of new people. Some may become close friends, some will never be spoken to again, and some will be awkwardly avoided in the confines of Market Street as you remember the passionate throes of a romance that was never meant to be.
Meeting parents, on the other hand, can be an altogether more difficult affair. Here is an extensive and entirely accurate list of the types of academic parents a fresher will meet – and avoid.
The Pushy Parent
‘No’ is not a word in their vocabulary. They have found something which looks like a fresher and will go to any lengths to convince them to be their child. Adopting children is a business pitch to these people, and they be selling whether you want it or not. Like most pressure-driven impulse buys, you’ll probably end up regretting it.
These parents are almost invariably men and can be found lurking in dark corners of The Union waiting for a victim to stumble into their path. They’ll buy their prey a Pablo (or whatever deceptively strong drink is available), and ask the classic question “Who’s your daddy?” accompanied by a lascivious wink. Avoid!
The Maternal Mother
She’ll make you cookies before a night out and she’ll hold your hair back while you throw up in the loo afterwards. She’ll listen attentively as you cry for the eighth time about that former flame who ‘was such a dick’. This kind of mother is hard to come by, but if you’re lucky enough to find one, stick by her and you’ll not only have an academic parent, but a mentor, counsellor and a tutor until she selfishly decides to graduate in a year’s time.
They have many regrets from their first year and they’ll be sure that you do to. Come late to a party? Shot. Complain about the food? Shot. While your liver won’t thank you for it, these parents are sure to supply you with endless booze. If you’re tip-toeing into university alcoholism, these are the parents for you.
She’s the confident mom. She looks to be the type to jog every morning, and invite you along to just prove her superior leg strength despite her shorter stature. Within the first few minutes of meeting her, she’s already told you about her influence in the St Andrews fashion circle, a charity she claims she runs, and how she can only share all of her wonderful secrets with you if you cradle yourself under her wing like a baby bird. This mom can either mellow in time or get worse. Your choice.
Essentially the Donald Trump of academic parents. His name is his brand, and he’ll stamp it on any fresher within a fifteen-foot radius. Most often he will approach an entirely gaggle of freshers on that first Saturday, announcing with great flair, that he will adopt EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the group. This works great for the first couple days, but when your daddy claims to have 20+ kids, he probably doesn’t even know your name.
The Hot One
Yep. This is the one that should have ‘academic incest’ literally tattooed on their face. Their method of adoption lacks the typical degree of desperation, as an offer of adoption from them is more like life divine intervention. For some, reason the “family dynamics” are always a little awkward, considering the fact that you’ve either had sex with them, want to, or told all your academic siblings you would.
Name-dropping isn’t just a habit with them. It’s a religion. Any conversation is littered with obscure connections to celebrities, or (in particularly bad cases) Kate and Wills. They also seem to be “friends” with everyone in their year, and they have strong opinions on who you should actually be associating with. They’re fun to party with when you’re both drunk enough to shut up and dance.
You met once. And it was magical? Well, it was brief. But your reluctant nod of agreement to be adopted was enough confirmation for them to message you on Facebook constantly. It’s time to block, unfriend, and hide when you see them again prowling about Club 601.