Parents and Teens: How to Compromise on Where to go to College

graduation cap sitting on table

If your child is interested in going to college, and you are footing the bill, there are a few rules that must be established before any applications are filled out and sent off. Unless you have all the money in the world to spend, compromise is very important when it comes to paying for your child’s college education. After all, the money you spend on tuition, housing, food and school supplies would all be in vain if the end result isn’t satisfactory. If a parent is funding their child’s education, both parties must be happy with how the money is being spent, and this is why compromise should be the number one goal when choosing what universities to apply to.

If you plan on paying for your kid’s college, here are few methods you can use to help them understand why they must take your wishes and considerations into account before choosing their dream schools.

Show Them the Numbers
Teens who are applying for college know that school isn’t free. However, they usually don’t understand the magnitude of the cost, and how it affects their family’s finances. Before letting your child create a list of the colleges they want to attend, sit down with them and look over the average tuition rates for community colleges, public universities and private schools. Point out the difference between choosing an in-state school versus an out-of-state school, and don’t forget to discuss the extra costs, too; such as school supplies, housing, food and health care.

Ideally, parents should have a budget already planned for how much they are willing to spend on their child’s education. Keep to this budget, and explain to your child that, if they are set on attending a college that is out of your price range, they are going to have to find ways to supplement the money you are willing to give them.

This is also a great time to explain the advantages of going to a community college your first year. All colleges require freshmen to take similar core courses the first few semesters of college, and completing these at a local community college is a great way to save money and ease into the college experience.

Explain the Real Purpose of College
Although college should be fun and you should be social, it is ultimately a time for serious work. Teens who are interested in applying to school are well aware that this will be the first time they will be away from mom and dad and that they will have the freedom to make their own decisions about how to spend their days for the first time in their lives. They also know that college requires decent grades, so a lot of teens will try to find ways to just barely get by while still partying and staying up late.

Before sending off any applications, be sure to explain to your child that average grades won’t cut it. Let them know that you expect a B-average or better their first semester, and if they don’t reach that goal, you will pull them out of school. By the way, a B-average for your first semester of college is not difficult to achieve. Most of the classes cover concepts that they already learned in high school.

Also, be vocal about the importance of getting good grades all throughout college by reminding your children that you are paying a pretty penny for them to get educated! Let them know that you expect their college education to take them places and make them better people, and encourage them to find more constructive ways to be social, such as joining a club on campus, participating in volunteer events or working a part-time job.

Talking about good grades will also help them decide if they should aim high and apply to an academically notable school or stick with a regular public or small liberal arts school.

Explain What it Means to Plan a Career
Many college-bound teens enter their first semester of college with no clue of what they want to major in. This is a serious problem. No student should start college until that at least have some idea of what sector or industry they are interested in working in. After all, college is all about training for a successful, professional career, and you want to choose a school that will best prepare you for that career.

Before your kids graduate high school, they should be making regular visits to their school’s career counseling office. There, they can read about viable careers, take career tests and complete other activities that are designed to help them narrow down what they want to study in college. After they start college, it’s OK if they decide to change majors, but be sure to monitor how many times they choose to switch directions. If they have changed majors three times before their sophomore year, it could be sign that they need to take a break from school to think about it a little longer.

Remember, compromise is not about telling your child where they have to go to school. It is simply about laying a few ground rules and letting your kids know your expectations. Once they know what you expect from them, it will make it a lot easier for them to decide where to apply and if they need to apply for additional financial aid or scholarships.

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger for www.BestCollegesOnline.com. Her articles cover topics related to trends in education, student advice and teaching methods, and in her spare time, she works as a Spanish tutor to non-traditional students. You may reach her with your questions or comments at BLauren99@gmail.com.

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Image courtesy of K. Sawyer Photography via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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