From the moment our children are born, we determine many things that go on in their lives. We choose the food we feed them, who gets to babysit them, their bedtime, and when they are older, their curfew. As a parent, we make all these decisions because we seek what is best for our children and their future.
When it comes time for them to graduate high school, the excitement of going prom dress shopping, decorating a senior crown, and going to Grad Bash is sometimes overshadowed by the looming thought of preparing for college.
They need to take shallow standardized tests that are in no way, shape, or form a measure of one’s intelligence but somehow continue to be used around the country to ” get to know” prospective students.
So, not only do our children have to ensure they have the qualifications to be accepted into a university, but they also have to select which one they will be attending for the next four years. I have always been the type of person to allow my children to be autonomous so they feel at liberty to decide what is most appropriate for them.
However, when it comes down to selecting their university, I believe parents should intervene to a certain degree.
They Need Guidance
It is easy to become overwhelmed when there are various decisions to be made. Our children go to school every day and may be inevitably influenced by other students, friends, or teachers.
As a first-generation college student, I felt completely lost in my college journey. Filling out the FAFSA was an absolute nightmare. I ended up taking a whole semester off because I ran out of time. Therefore, this is just one example of why you should be involved in your children’s decision-making.
Ask them guiding questions so they can start considering all factors when making their decision. Ask if they want to leave town or if they want to be close to home/leave the state. Ask what major they are considering and if the schools on their list offer good programs and curriculums for it.
Our children may have perfect grades and excellent test scores and meet all admission requirements, so they may not realize the financial component of this decision. It is fundamental to review all financial aid offers and the cost of tuition. Teach them about the implications of student loan debt and how the student debt crisis can affect them in the future.
Be honest with them. Unfortunately, not all parents can save a college fund for their children. Let them know if you do have savings for their college career. Speaking openly about the cost will ultimately help them with their decision-making.
The Decision is Ultimately Up To Them
As parents, it is easy to fall into the “I know best” because “I am older and therefore wiser” dialogue. You have done your part by asking the right questions, giving your input, and helping them weigh their options. Once they decide, it is time for you to support them. Even if you personally would have made a different decision, this is their life.
Instead, celebrate this moment. If they choose a university out of town or out of state, look for fun places they can visit. Plan a weekend getaway to go to all the tourist spots. Go to Target and start buying decorations for their dorm room.
This is what it means to be a supportive parent. Don’t be some negative Nancy that makes her children feel as if they disappointed you.
Choosing a university is a big step in our children’s lives. Still, with careful consideration, you can help lead them to decide what will benefit them and make them feel fulfilled and happy.