Why Parents Should Let Their Young Adults Choose a College


For college applicants and their parents, April brings, along with rain showers and Easter baskets, one of the biggest decisions of their lives; where to accept an offer of admission. While some may be disappointed at not getting in to a reach school or a dream school, at some point before May 1 a choice will have to be made about where to spend the next four years.

It's tempting, in fact sometimes it seems urgent, for parents to steer their high school seniors towards what they consider the...MORE best option, but it's very important that the final choice, taking into account practical matters, be the student's. The last thing a parent wants is for their young adult to resent them for pushing them towards a school that is not a good fit. Making this decision is the first step in a successful and enjoyable college experience.

  • 01 of 06

    State Financial Guidelines, Then Back Away

    saving for college

    The bottom line is the financial responsibility parents are willing to take on for their children's education. Ideally a family will have discussed this prior to the application process beginning, and will have utilized any and all financial aid and scholarship opportunities available to them to help with the high cost of a college education. Once the financial parameters are clear and the schools have sent their award information and financial aid options along with acceptance notices, the...MORE student must take into account these hard facts and make an informed decision - with the parents' guidance. 

  • 02 of 06

    Have Them Make Lists

    choosing a college

    There's nothing quite as impactful as writing down pros and cons for any difficult decision, and the college choice is certainly no exception. A simple "pros" and "cons" list can be enough to clarify which school is best and for what reasons. Try not to make suggestions about what may be good or not so good about any particular campus. By letting students ponder and consider what works and what doesn't at each school, it will allow them time and space to clarify what the...MORE priorities are in their minds.

  • 03 of 06

    Don't Push Your Preferences

    college campus

    During the college search and campus visits, it's very possible that parents will fall in love with a school just like their children do. The leafy campus in the bucolic countryside may appeal to parents who attended school in a similar environment, or may stimulate interest because it's the opportunity they never had. Parents may wish for their child to attend school in an exciting location so visiting their kids will be enjoyable on many levels. Whatever parents may prefer, it's...MORE irrelevant to the choice made by their young adult. Keep your choices to yourself and listen to your high school senior as he or she makes this important decision. 

  • 04 of 06

    Your Young Adult is Still Evolving

    college decision

    Many changes and growth experiences occur during the four years of college. The odds of a student changing his or her major, for example, are pretty good - nearly 80% of students will change their course of study during their college careers. Students discover themselves as individuals separate and independent from their families and old friends, exploring political views, sexuality and more. While you as a parent may know your child intimately and profoundly, you may not know the inner thoughts...MORE and desires that he or she may have. When a young adult states "I feel at home on this campus," listen closely. There may be much more to it than appears to be on the surface.

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  • 05 of 06

    Your Interests Are Not Your Young Adult's

    college decision

    It may be that you were unable to pursue your dream career, but that doesn't mean your young adult has to. Likewise, expecting your young adult to follow your lead into a career like yours is just as wrong. Your passion for medicine, for example, may not be something your young adult shares, and pushing a school that will lead to a career as a physician when it may be your child wants to go into marketing is not only unfair but can be an expensive mistake. Take off the rose-colored glasses...MORE and see your child as he or she really is, not what you wish him or her to be. 

  • 06 of 06

    Let Them Choose the Distance

    choosing a college

    How far to go away from home is a tough decision that parents need to let their young adults decide, taking into account travel time and expenses. For many college students, being far from home adds to their sense of independence and excitement, as they explore new places that are completely different from their hometowns with people from places and backgrounds they may never have encountered before. For other students, the stress and change of being a college student can be exacerbated by being...MORE too far away from family and friends, and having the option to return home when they choose to with minimal expense and time can give them a sense of comfort and security. Whatever your feelings are about having a child far away or nearby, ultimately this decision must be the young adult's.