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Keeping Your Emotions In Check When Talking To Your Child About College

I want to tell you my story.  I am an only child.  I was the first in my family to attend college.  I had loving and dedicated parents.  

I also had the worst fight of my life with my

mother over where I would attend college.  Her wishes won out, and I was miserable for the next two years until I transferred.

I think back on that now and wonder how my life would have been different if I had held my ground and went my own direction. The problem is that I will never know. None of us can know ho

w our lives would be different if we had turned left instead of right or had taken that job and instead of this job.

As a parent today, I struggle with finding that delicate balance between making decisions for my daughter and letting her make her own (even when I fear that she will be hurt or disappointed as a result of her decisions).

As a College Admissions Counselor who helps high school students plan for and apply to college, I often find myself in the middle of that parent/child struggle over this college versus that college.  The reality is that family members are simply focused on different things.  Mothers are concerned about college safety records.  Dads are concerned about the number of students who secure jobs upon graduation. Students are concerned about everything else including Division 1 sports, Starbucks locations, distance to the beach (and the more traditional topics of college majors and internships).  

How as a parent do you balance your desire to control your child’s life with that of your child’s need for independence?  It is not easy, but I suggest that in the end there should be some give and take.  One side should not rule out.  Letting your child participate in what for many is his or her first major adult decision is critical for his or her growth and yours.  They will make mistakes but hopefully, they will learn from them.  They will also make decisions that prove to be wonderful. As your teen is planning for college, remember that they need to feel respected and invested in the decision. That is a wonderful gift to give to your son or daughter.

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