What if you and your parents disagree about college?


I received this question from the folks at COLLEGEdata, asking for my comments.  The question (with answers) will appear in the next CollegeINSIGHT newsletter. You can check out the current version at https://www.collegedata.com/cs/main/main_mag_tmpl.jhtml.

Researchers (and by that I mean a few articles I’ve read online recently) agree that high school students now get along with their parents better than ever before.  They use as evidence the high level of involvement and influence parents have in the college search process, in the admissions process (reminder – please don’t let mom or dad fill out your application for you!), and how often students continue to chat/email/text with mom and dad after heading to college (3-4 times per DAY!).

It seems likely with all that involvement that even the most solid familial dynamic is going to be strained if mom is seeking Ivy League U while junior wants Snowboarding with Awesome Parties College, and dad wants either his alma mater (that’s Latin for, “I want me and my kid to wear matching sweatshirts”) or Really Inexpensive And Possibly Illegitimate Online Program. 

This starts with the regular misconception that there is a RIGHT answer to the question of which college to attend.  My strong recommendation (and again, I am so often right it would amaze you) is that you should, with over 4,000 institutions from which to choose, be able to find multiple schools that the whole family could love.  Mom, dad and junior should all bear in mind that there is no perfect school (with the possible exception of Mason, of course, an institution on which all can agree!), and that there are always going to be some tradoffs in the things you want and what you will find (not at Mason – you will have it all here!).

I realize this may be easier said than done, but that’s why I’m the blogger and you’re the parent/applicant/surfer who thought you were going to find cool information about the latest Britney Spears episode.  The truth is that you can have a wonderful experience. make fantastic friends, and increase your chances of success at pretty much any school that feels like a good match to you, if you just get excited about it and make a solid effort.  And mom and dad should know it’s the same for them – they will find things to brag about at parties no matter where you go.  (Of course, at Mason you will have the best experience, make the best friends, and have the best chance of success, while your parents will have endless bragging potential…but that’s just if you want to make the RIGHT choice…).  Be seeing you.

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