I find many families are in the throes of looking at colleges. Either their teen is a high school junior or a senior or they are choosing from the places where they have been accepted. Either way; this is a big decision to be made by the teenagers. Sort of scary isn't it. Too often I talk with college students that didn't make it at their first college. At times the choice of college was what the parents wanted. This is what I think parents need to tell their kids about college choices:
- This is the amount of money we have available to help with college. Or this is what we will pay for. Parents are not obligated to put themselves into debt to pay for college. If your teen understands this up front they can make a more informed decision about the schools they choose to investigate.
- Parents can help the teen investigate the kinds of information they need to make an informed choice. But this is if the teen wants the help.
- When a teen selects a college 1500 miles from home parents can support that decision but make sure they understand the ramifications of visiting from that distance.
- When we feel a teen is making a decision based on factors like that is where my boyfriend is going parents should express their concerns if they have them.
As they narrow down the choices it is nice when they will discuss with you their thought about particular schools. If your teen is incredibly shy and tends to isolate you may want to discuss their expectations about building a social network in the schools they are looking at. This holds true for anything that might be a deal breaker for your teen and a particular school.
They may not know what they want to major in and that is perfectly alright. They will grow and have new experiences in college that will help direct those decisions. But if they are fairly set on engineering for example and hate writing and literature you could discuss the pros and cons of a liberal arts program vs. a more technical school. These discussions are just to help them think through their own decision.
This is a very exciting and scary time for them and an exciting and "griefish" time for us. This is the time parents need to serve as the consultant and not the decision maker. Good luck and I hope it goes well. Sherri