How to be Supportive of your Child’s College Decisions
By Kendell Shaffer
Okay, so she has her heart set on some impossibly selective college in the middle of nowhere in the woods of Maine. And it’s very expensive.
Should we even be supportive? Or should we be the responsible adults in the room and steer her elsewhere?
Location, ranking and finances are near the top of factors that will help us decide on the right college for our daughter. But what she wants remains at the top. So we don’t say no, but she sees us wince.
Sydney has applied to a couple of schools in Maine. We live in Los Angeles. The Maine schools aren’t near large airports so traveling to and from will be tough. But she really wanted to apply to these schools, so we supported that.
She is not keen on going to school in California, but she applied to several UC and CalState schools. Those schools will be significantly more affordable and obviously closer. Once she sees where she is accepted, the reality of travel will set in. Does she like the idea of coming home for a long weekend, or does being snowed in during a Maine winter sound more appealing?
Ranking is something she thinks about too. A lower ranked school may give her a lot of Merit money. Is it best to have your college paid for because you are in demand academically? Or is it better to go to a higher ranked college and pay more?
We certainly don’t want to make money a priority for her education, but it is a reality. My worry is that she’d fall in love with a school, apply, get in and then we couldn’t afford to send her.
When Sydney started looking at schools, we were careful to run our finances through the Net Price Calculator of each school to get an idea of what aid she might receive. One liberal arts college that she liked was rumored to be stingy with money and the Net Price Calculator confirmed that. In the end, Sydney took that one off her list and didn’t apply.
These hard questions will be answered soon when she receives her acceptance letters. We have tried to guide her this far and help her narrow her choices. She knows the financial aid will be a factor. But as a family, we feel all the schools will be manageable in one way or another. This morning my husband said it’s just hitting him that she actually might be going to college far away. Up until now, it’s been about selecting schools that seemed like good fits and hustling to get the applications in.
Part of me wants her to college nearby. But I know I didn’t want that when I was her age. We’ll support her decisions and hope she’ll be lucky and have a lot of choices.