College Choice: Who Chooses?

College-ChoiceOne of my parents emailed me this morning with the question, regarding college choice: “Who chooses”? He hears from other parents that they let their kids choose which college to attend but, he asks, is that really the right answer? Does Sarah really know what is best for her? Can she look down the road and see what options at College A will bring her that College B won’t?

And, so, I reflected and responded with the below.

My thought and experience with making the final college choice is not definitively the parents or the students. It is a collaborative effort and needs to be balanced. I also believe, which I’m sure you agree, that this decision can’t be pushed or demanded on a student but have all of the pluses and minuses outlined by both parties and then a mutual decision made.

Given that both schools are equivalent from a financial perspective, being more specific, College A vs. College B, I don’t necessarily agree that one is superior to the other, academically, in general. I believe there are benefits to both. That being said, my question to Sarah would be, why College A? What does this school do for you, socially, academically and emotionally vs. College B? Where does College B fall in relation to College A? Is it a 5 vs. a 10 or is it a 9 vs. a 10? Some of her thought process in selecting one over the other is about a feeling, the intangibles that we can’t quite verbalize.

I know it is difficult as parents, given our decades more experience than our children, to see them make choices that are not our decisive choice. I do believe that either school will be a solid college choice for Sarah. Will one lead her down a road that is different than the other? Absolutely. I look back on my own choices, not just with college but in life, and look how it got me to where I am today. I am sure some of my choices would not have been my parents’ choice but it has made and brought me to where I am today, and that I know they would be proud of.

Your question brings great reflection this morning and evokes much emotion. We know that Sarah, and all of you, have done your due diligence through her college admissions journey. The decision isn’t what is right or wrong. They are just different. As I say to all of my students, there is more than 1 school that fits you, there are many. Wouldn’t it be a wonder if we had a crystal ball to see which roads each would lead us down? It would, but, unfortunately, that’s not reality.

I’m here if all of you would like to meet and discuss all of this. I look forward to seeing what road Sarah ultimately chooses. Whichever it is, she has to buy into it wholeheartedly.

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