What should I do if my parents and I disagree about my college choices?

Mitchell Lipton
Dean of Admissions and Records and Registrar
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
It is quite common for students and their parents to disagree about the appropriate college choice. Think carefully what is most important to you as you start your college search. Have an honest discussion with your family regarding college costs, location, size, programs of study, etc. Parents want to see that their children are making an educated, rational decision. If funding is limiting your options, check with every college you are interested in to explore financial aid. Sometimes parents are initially shocked by the sticker price of a college and may be more open to discussing your college plans after being educated themselves about the complex world of financial aid.

In the end it really should be your choice, as it's you that will be going to college—sorry parents! Again, if you get the difficult questions out in the open before you begin your college search, in the end your choices of where to accept should hopefully be aligned with your parents’ needs.

Rodney MorrisonRodney Morrison
Associate Chancellor for Enrollment Management

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Camden

As a parent, it's my job to challenge my kids on their choices, especially when they don’t appear to know what they are talking about or I am not familiar with the topic. For many students, this is one of—if not the biggest decision—they and their family will make. It can be a very stressful time. Lay some ground rules and parameters down with your parents before deciding on a school. Discuss things like college size, major, distance from home, activities, and how much you can afford to pay.

Cyndy McDonaldCyndy McDonald
Founder
Higher Educational Consultants Association (HECA)

Going to college is a family affair. Even though you are the one going to college; your parents are sending you. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing what your path for college will be. Having an open and frank discussion with your parents will help. Are your parents worried about how to pay for college? About you being too far away? Or about the people you might be going to school with? Discuss these topics openly and often with your parents to let them know you are listening to them, and they should be more open to listening to you as well. In the end, there is not just one perfect school for you; any number of schools will work for you. Sit down as a family and make a priority list of what is important in college choices to you. Then use those priorities to create your college list. Don’t wait until just before May 1 of your senior year to have this discussion.

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