What to Do When You and Your Parents Disagree About College


Oct   2015



College is—in theory—that magical point where parents start to let go, accepting that you are making your way into the real world.

Of course, some parents will just hold on a little tighter.

That said, parental guidance isn’t necessarily a bad thing; even as you get older, it can be helpful and even necessary, from time to time. But making your college and/or career decisions solely based on what your parents want or expect you to do can also be a recipe for disaster.

College is the time to explore your interests, develop your personality, and, for most, get your first taste of true independence. Deciding which college you want to go to is a major part of that independence.

Choosing a college is the biggest decision you’re going to make as a teenager, and letting someone else make that choice for you is akin to handing them your future. You’re giving them the power to plot your life for you.

Advice about choosing a college (from a parent or any other source, for that matter) should be just that—advice, not an edict. Listen to the opinions offered to you, but remember that, at the end of the day, you’re the one who should be making the final decision.

And while it may be easier to simply follow your parents’ wishes, it means nothing if you’re not true to yourself. You know yourself best, and no matter how badly mom and dad want you to become a doctor or a lawyer, only you know if you’re destined to slip on that white coat or pass the bar exam—or if you even want to.

Of course, sticking to your guns is only the first step. Breaking this news to your parents may prove slightly more difficult. Remember, communication is key. Prepare what you want to say in advance; let your parents know exactly what it is you want (or don’t want) to do and why. Don’t just refute their arguments; try to understand where they’re coming from.

College is the first step towards . . . dare I say it . . . adulthood. Prove that you’re capable of handling the responsibility of your own independence while staying true to yourself.

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About Meryum Baig

Meryum Baig is a freelance writer and a high school junior.