My Parents Want Me to Attend a Particular College, But I Don’t Want to Go. What Should I Do?

upset young indian couple after conflict

You might have a specific vision of what you want out of your college experience, your parents may want something different for you. This can create tension, and understandably so; it’s your college experience, but parents often make many of the financial commitments with regards to college and so may expect to be included in every step.


After getting acceptance letters, choosing the right school is difficult and there are many factors that contribute to a person’s decision. Unfortunately, many people struggle with getting their parents to agree on which school is best for them. Your parents are a critical part of your high school and college experience. They likely raised you, paid for clubs and activities, made sure that you had transportation to and from school and extracurriculars, and may even be saving money to pay for your college education. In light of this, it is reasonable to think that their opinion in the college application process matters.

There are many reasons why a student would give in to their parents’ “suggestions” about what they should do with their future. Those reasons range from financial pressures to simply trying to make the parents happy. It is possible that maybe those graduating students believe their parents know best and that they should listen to them and follow their advice, despite the fact said career path is of no interest to them whatsoever.

So what do you do when your parents keep pushing you towards something you don’t want?

  • Don’t cross anything off your list just because your parents disapprove.

Instead, if you have a college or major you’re interested in, look into it yourself. Keep doing your own research into colleges and careers. Demonstrate your maturity to do the work in your college search by actually doing the work.

  • If possible, visit both campuses of your choice and of your parents choice.

It doesn’t hurt to also consider the schools your parents are pushing you to attend. You might be surprised by what that school has to offer. In contrast, encourage your parents to visit the school of your choice with you. They might also be impressed by what you have planned for yourself, particularly if you put work into planning the trip and tour.

  • Maintain a respectful dialogue

You need to be strong, mature, and ready to have some tough talks, and you need to have research to back your position up. Part of having a mature conversation is to keep your composure. In order to be given the latitude to make your own decisions, you need to prove that you are capable of doing do. 

At the end of the day, this is your future. Parental input is helpful but, the choice is up to you. That can be very hard, especially if your parents are paying for your tuition. If they aren’t understanding or supportive, that can make choosing your own path much harder, but you shouldn’t give up. There are many people out there, from other family and friends to high school mentors, who can help. There are also other financial options like scholarships, that can pave the way to the school of your dreams. Once again, you will have to put in the work to provide for yourself financially.

Though this is undoubtedly a trying time for everyone involved, there is some comfort in having agency, in knowing the decision was yours And in making your own decisions, potentially messing up, and having to move on, you will find ample opportunities for growth. In that fact alone, there is reason to maintain hope.

Questions? Let us know!