Deciding which college to attend is a big deal in most families. As parents, we often want to leave the college-decision up to our child. This sounds all find and good. The same holds true for the pre-college process. For the most part, we expect our children make the best choices leading up to the college decision.
However, when we realize that only about half the students starting four-year colleges will finish with a Bachelor’s Degree within six years, at two-year colleges, only about a third of the students finish with an Associate’s Degree (or Certificate) within three years of studies, we might want to reconsider this approach. If the poor graduation rates are not enough to raise a yellow flag, just look around at how the $1.4 trillion student debt is impacting families and friends.
While we understand the desire for parents to have the child make the decision, we want to express our reservations of having kids lead the college preparation process. I think most us parents, looking back, realize that the decisions we made as teenagers left a bit (or a lot) to be desired. We would have done some things differently, weighed the choices in another way, wish we had had a broader perspective at the time. Looking back, most of us readily admit that we were rather naïve about preparing for college ourselves. Our own parents, more likely than not, simply didn’t know how to help us make better choices.
The situation our kids find themselves in today is not all that different. Like us, when we were young, they too could use more parental guidance.
As parents, we want to help our kids in the college preparation process. The difficulty is that no one has shown us how. And as a result, we defer the guidance to outside resources such as the Middle and High School guidance counselors or the college representatives. Get the “Hows” to College PlanningThere are also college-coaches that we can farm-out this responsibility to. If this path was effective, then the issues of college graduation rates, massive student debt, and career dissatisfaction would not be a common concern.
At the end of the day, the decision as to which college your child will attend will take place at the kitchen table. This decision falls to you as the parent, your child, and to a certain degree, the college(s) that have accepted your student.
These are the three too that bear the upcoming financial responsibility. If the preparation in the pre-college years does not lead to a viable college experience, guidance counselors will not pay the bills for the extra costs. Last I looked, colleges don’t offer a satisfaction, money-back guarantee. What is interesting, is that with so much at stake, very little education is provided to the parents so they can influence this process in the best way that they see fit for their own children.
While guidance counselors have their place in the college preparation process, the ones who must lead the process are the parents. Most parents are very capable of leading the process, they just need someone to teach them the insights and provide the effective tools so they can help their children in an age-appropriate, child appropriate way achieve college success.
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