How can parents cope with a child who doesn't want to go to college?

Rhiannon Schade
Director of College Counseling
Collegewise of Millburn

This can be a difficult situation for parents who love their children and want the best for them. If you force your student to attend college when she does not want to go, she will likely not get the most out of the experience. If this situation comes up, it is important to think about the reasons why it is happening in order to develop a course of action.

If your student simply feels that college is not the right place for her right now, it does not mean that she will never go to college. More and more students are taking a gap year and/or delaying their college experience to pursue a work, travel, or alternative learning experience they feel is worthwhile—an opinion many, many colleges share! (If your student wants to do this, I would advise them to apply and get admitted to college and then ask for a one-year deferral so that your student knows they have a spot waiting when they are done with the gap year.)

Of course, some students delay their college experience for different lengths of time or other reasons, and some choose not to go at all. The answer to this will look different for each student, but I would encourage parents to listen to their children, find out why there is an objection to going to college, and then work through how legitimate the reasoning is to find resolution.

Charlotte M. Klaar, Ph.D.Charlotte M. Klaar, Ph.D.
Klaar College Consulting LLC
Tell the student that she can take one year to work at something productive and to begin to pay her own bills, including her rent to you, car insurance, dry cleaning, etc. At the end of that year, she can then decide to go to college, and you will help her. This usually does the trick. Often, once the student recognizes that home is not the same once all her friends have left for school, the reasons she chose to stay are gone.

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