Filtering Out the Voices of Other Parents


voices of other parents

If you have a high school senior or junior you know the college pressure. Unfortunately, it’s not always with your student. Parents feel extreme pressure and they often feel alone with the feelings of inadequacy and dread. This is the time in your child’s life when the rubber hits the road. The last 11 or 12 years of school come down to one huge question: what will they do after high school?

Why do parents feel pressure? It’s quite simple—there is parent peer pressure. Parents who roll their eyes or are completely floored when you say your child hasn’t decided about college. Parents who compare notes, throwing out names like Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and other Ivy league colleges. Parents who wear those names as badges of honor and claim success as a parent based on their child’s college prospects. Parents who can foot the bill for the entire cost of college and let it be known at every college related gathering.

How can you filter out the voices of other parents? Take a step back and look at the reality of what is happening with your teenager. It’s your job to help him make some tough decisions. These might not include traditional college. It might involve going to community college for two years. It could mean exploring career or technical colleges. Your child might benefit from a gap year abroad or working at an internship to get a better career focus. The military could also be an option for some students, as it was for my son.

Just as no two individuals are alike, no two post graduation scenarios are either. Don’t feel intimidated by other parents to push your student toward a specific college just so you can have bragging rights. This is not a competition. Your child must make this decision for himself and be happy with his choice.

Filter everything by asking, “What is best for my child and my family?” It doesn’t matter what path other students take. Your student must take the path that is best for him. You have not failed as a parent if your student does not get into an Ivy league college or a top-tiered school on the America’s Best Colleges list. You have not failed as a parent if your child chooses other post-graduation paths to find his place in life. You have failed if you don’t listen and guide your student toward happiness and fulfillment. Ultimately, what matters most is that he makes a decision based on what is best for him.

Don’t push your child to attend a “name” college that you cannot afford, saddling both yourself and your student with debt. There are plenty of great colleges in this country that are bargains, offer substantial merit aid, and often opportunities to attend for free. Your student will thank you when he graduates with minimal or no debt and realizes that the degree from a state college is just as valued as a degree from an Ivy league university.

Peer pressure comes in all forms. Parents can’t help but brag on their children. And every parent feels that the choices their teenagers make after high school will dictate their future. Remind yourself that the years after high school are about exploration and discovery. However your child chooses to pursue them, be proud and support his choice. When you hear the “voices” in your head telling you otherwise, remember what my mom used to say to me, “Just because she jumped off a bridge, it doesn’t mean you have to.”

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One Response to “Filtering Out the Voices of Other Parents”

  1. Excellent advice, Suzanne!