My Parents Want This College, But I Don’t. What Now?

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Savannah Brand
Savannah Brand

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You might have a specific vision of what you want out of your college experience; nonetheless, your parents may want something different. This can create tension, and understandably so. It’s your college experience, this is true. But parents still want to be closely involved. In fact, since parents often make many of the financial commitments with regards to college, they often expect to be included in every step. If your parents want this college, and you’d prefer that college, it’s important to proceed gently.

The context

After getting acceptance letters, choosing the right school is difficult. There are many factors that contribute to a person’s decision. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle many people ever struggle with is getting their parents to agree to which school they should work towards. 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—they may even be saving money to pay for your college education. In light of this, it is reasonable say 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 simply listen to them. Empowerly sees that this mostly begins to cause problems if it passes a certain point. In other words, it follows if students follow parent advice despite the fact that the 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. You deserve to give yourself the chance to consider all of your options yourself.

If possible, visit both campuses (both your and your parent’s favorite if they are different).

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. This is what it means to be an independent adult. Granted, 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!