My Parents Want Me To Go To College But I Don’t


Parents often see their children as extensions of themselves rather than as individuals with their own life and preferences. This may appear caring and protective in the early years of a child, but once it starts affecting a child’s future, its time to put a full stop to this misconception.

College is a serious endeavor and costs a lot both in terms of time and money. Therefore, it should never be started out of compulsion, or in a hurry or out of any kind of fear. So if you are not ready for college, the best thing to do is to wait and to make your parents understand that what you are doing is best for everyone.

Can parents force their teenager to start college inspite of the child’s disinterest? What are some things parents will do if they are adamant about the child doing college? Is college even necessary and how can the child convince their parents to back off?

YOUR PARENTS WANT COLLEGE BUT YOU DON’T

Parents who want their child to go to college immediately after school do so for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Most parents accept college as the general norm after high school and consider it normal that their child start college right after high school

  • The sooner the child completes college, the sooner s/he will get a job and start earning an income. This will allow the child to be financially independent and also ease the parents’ financial burden
  • Some parents focus on competing with other parents and enjoy bragging about their child’s college successes in front of family, friends and acquaintances. If their child is not going to college, it can be very embarrassing for them to have to explain this to others
  • Once the child completes college and gets a job, they can start their own family and give the joy of grandchildren to their own parents
  • Some parents especially Asians want their kids to always get only A grades in everything and go to any length to make their child a better student than all others. Such parents will not accept their kids attending anything less than an ivy league college.

Students or young adults who do not want to start college do so for one or more of the following reasons:

  • When s/he did not get admission to the college or major of their choice, the student might feel like a loser and will be unsure of how to proceed with college
  • The stress of having to fulfill the parents’ dreams is very de-motivating or uninteresting for the student
  • The young adult does not know what to choose for a college major and would like more time to decide what to study for college
  • Without getting sufficient financial aid, the student does not want to take any student loans for college
  • The young adult wants to take a gap year or two to travel before deciding when, how, where and what to study for college
  • The young adult wants to start a business and postpone college for some other time
  • The young adult is getting married early and needs time to figure out when and how to do college later on. In such a case, all college plans are likely to come to a halt for a year or more
  • The young adult is not confident about his/ her own abilities and not sure if s/he can successfully complete college
  • The young adult has other priorities and considers college a waste of time and effort

The above are some of the reasons parents would want their child to do college and reasons why their child may not want to start their college immediately after high school. As a young high school graduate, you have every right to decide when and how to do college.

Just be sure you are not putting off college for the wrong reasons or out of sheer laziness. In the world we live in, each of us needs to make a living. College is also a generally accepted norm both socially and for building a person’s career.

But if you don’t have the money for it currently, or you need time to figure things out, it’s definitely worth taking the time without rushing into college blindly. College is an important decision that will affect the rest of your life, so it is best for you to do college in the most convenient time for you.

FORCING THE TEENAGE CHILD TO START COLLEGE

Some parents take extreme measures to force their child to go to a specific college or university. The child is subjected to a lot of hardships from an early age and is pushed hard to meet their parent’s expectations with the best school grades and scores.

In the worst cases, this can cause emotional stress and psychological issues for the child which can have many adverse effects on the child in the later years. In the best cases, the child will meet the parents expectations loyally but will completely miss out on living and experiencing life on their own terms. This can also worsen the parent-child relationship in the later years once the child realizes what s/he missed by simply living the parents’ dream.

I’ve personally known cousins who were pushed hard by their mom to ace both school and college. The older girl had a lot of psychological issues and felt traumatized, though her younger brother seemed to have gotten on ok.

Another cousin of mine was ridiculed for doing badly in Mathematics because her father was a Mathematician. She underwent many personal issues throughout her life and died very early as well. Many celebrities who were pushed by their parents in their childhood also ended up with problems and we read about them from time to time across most countries and cultures.

TALKING TO YOUR PARENTS ABOUT COLLEGE

As a young adult, please give careful thought to your goals, ambitions and any fears about college. If you feel unprepared for starting college, the first thing to do is to acknowledge this to yourself. You should speak with someone you trust confidentially on the matter, especially someone who will not be inclined to inform your parents about this.

For a second opinion, you can also speak with a student counselor about ways by which you can delay or postpone college without it having an adverse effect on your life. You can also ask them how to bring up this topic with your parents.

Here are some ways by which you can talk to your parents about delaying college:

  1. Calmly approach both your parents at a time when they are more relaxed and ask if they have some time to talk to you alone.
  2. Tell them that you want to postpone college and also tell them exactly why and what your future plans are. Its easier for parents to cooperate if they know that you will still do college in another one or two years.
  3. If you are planning to start a business and are not sure whether you want to do college, this is likely to be a hard-sell! Just request your parents to give you one or two years to build a successful business. If you are unable to make the business successful in that time, promise them that you will be ready to start your college at that time.
  4. In any case, taking one or two gap years will help you learn from real-life experiences and you will also have the time to carefully choose the right degree and college major. So be sure to communicate this clearly to your parents.

  5. In case one of your parents decides to compare you with your siblings or a cousin stating how good they are in college and why you should do the same, just tell them that what someone else does has no relationship to your experiences or capabilities. You are not a photocopy of someone else’s image, so request your parents to treat you as a responsible individual.
  6. Parents can sometimes get very emotional and hysterical when they feel let down. So its extremely important that you stay calm, speak logically, and maintain a soft but firm voice throughout this important conversation. Getting your parents’ cooperation will make things a whole lot easier for you, so its well worth the extra effort!

IS COLLEGE NECESSARY FOR BEING SUCCESSFUL?

A college degree is a prerequisite for getting a good job with a good monthly salary. So for most people, college is definitely a necessary ingredient to a prosperous life. But for a few who have a family business, it is possible to have a good income by simply following in the footsteps of their family and parents.

Socially, finding a good life partner becomes a lot easier upon completing college since everyone is looking for a partner who is at their similar level of education and family income.

College graduation in a well accepted social norm and life is much easier for everyone upon completing college.

Whether college completion leads to a successful career is all upto how that person is able to put their college learning to use in the right job or business. More importantly, college graduation gives a person the confidence to forge ahead, take on challenging job interviews and to succeed in the workplace.

ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO COLLEGE

There are many different approaches by which you can do college, so knowing this ahead of time could even change your opinion about college. Perhaps you might even decide that its worth giving college a chance instead of skipping or delaying college.

  • METHODS OF LEARNING: College can be done fully online, or full-time in a college campus, or via distance, or a combination of all these methods via degree completion colleges
  • FINANCING COLLEGE: You can either get a full scholarship for college, or have your parents help pay for part or all of your college expenses. If possible, try to avoid taking student loans so you can start your career financially stress-free upon college graduation.
  • WHEN TO START COLLEGE: Start college immediately after high school, or take one ore more gap years before starting college. Just be aware that some colleges may be more strict with their admission policies for students who have a time gap between school and the start of college.
  • IVY LEAGUE/ PRESTIGIOUS COLLEGE: Getting into an ivy-league or another prestigious college will require much better admission preparation since these colleges are more selective and give admission to only a small percentage of student applicants. The tuition fees are also extremely high at these colleges and only the super-rich can afford such high fees without a full scholarship.
  • Ivy-leagues are not right for everyone with the high rigor and stress of student performance, but it can be advantageous for some bright and smart students to start their career with a bang and a great network of people! So think carefully if you want to go the ivy-league route or if you would rather skip it altogether.
  • LIVING LOCATION: Depending on your college choices, you might have to relocate or get to stay in the comfort of your home during your college years. If you need to move out for college, you can either choose a college dorm or live in other independent accommodation with roommates. Each have their own benefits and disadvantages both for convenient living and in terms of cost.
  • FULL-TIME/ PART-TIME: If you want to start working or are looking to start a business, its still possible to attend college part-time. In such a case, your job or business income could help you to pay your college expenses. But if you decide to study in college full-time, its going to be much easier to get financial aid to cover the college tuition expenses.

FINDING AN AMICABLE SOLUTION REGARDING COLLEGE

If you are the young adult, finding out which of these reasons are causing your parents to push for college against your wishes will help you to better negotiate and convince your parents. If you are a parent of a high school graduate, finding out why your child wants to postpone college or to not do college will allow both of you to better reach an amicable solution.

As a parent, please understand that your child needs to do what is right for him/her and even if you think your child is making a mistake, its still worth hearing him/ her out calmly to see what you can do to help.

Rather than pushing your child into a college when they are not ready, if you want her/ him to be happy and successful, it is in your best interests to give importance to their goals and feelings.

Love and respect for each other does wonders and can overcome the greatest of challenges.

So rather than simply looking at college firmly from your point-of-view only, try to see it from the other’s point-of-view as well.

If you are the teenager, just think what you would do if you were in your parents’ shoes. If you are the parents, think how you would feel if you were a teenager undergoing what your child is currently experiencing.

Such an outlook and empathy for each other’s viewpoint can easily make this a win-win for both parents and the teenager/s.

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