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Helping Your Child Choose a College

Your high school senior is quickly approaching graduation day. And that means it is time to choose a college and commit. This process, this decision, has probably been the topic of conversation for months now, but deadlines are closing in and time is running out.

Both students and parents feel the weight of this monumental decision. From finances to traditions to scholarships, and more, there are so many factors that go into choosing a college. And pressure from parents can play a huge role. To help you help your child choose a college without pressuring them, we’ve come up with some conversation starters.

Most parents help fund their child’s college education and feel that this funding gives them a say in where their child goes. But, how you approach this topic should be delicate. If you come at your child with an ultimatum based on your finances, they’ll feel bought out. If you will be funding your child’s college experience, make sure they still have a voice in where they want to go.

Sit down and talk about all of the places they dream of going. Talk about proximity to home, the expenses it will take to come home for breaks, if they’ll be getting a job, where they have scholarships to, how big of a school they want to attend, if it’s private or state, etc.

Making a list of all the aspects that will affect finances is important for your kids to see. If they’ll be paying for their own gas and airfare, they’ll have to think about how far they’re willing to travel away from home.

Aside from finances, talk to your senior about traditions and legacy. If you went to the same college as your father and his father, you might want your child to carry on this legacy. Talk openly about how cool it would be to carry this on without pressuring them to follow in your exact footsteps. Make sure they know that you would love to see it happen, but aren’t forcing them to and won’t be angry if they choose a different route.

It’s hard to see your child choose a different path than you imagined for them. When we see these little babies for the first time after carrying them for nine months, their entire life flashes before our eyes. We see their future, the future we want for them. But, as they grow up, we have to let them go, little by little, to be a productive member of society, all on their own. Help them make a wise decision without making their decision for them.

There are so many considerations when choosing a college, most of which are personal preference. Whatever your child decides, be supportive. That means more than any money amount ever could.