By Sydney Nolan, HerCampus.com
We’ve all had those “OMG my parents can be sooo annoying” moments, but nothing can be more annoying than when a parent tries to insert themselves into your college plans. Once those acceptance letters start pouring in, things can get tense pretty quickly. So what’s a pre-collegiette to do when discussions about college plans between you and your parents start to get heated? Check out some of the common scenarios pre-collegiettes frequently run into when you and your parents don’t agree on your future plans.
The problem: Your parents are still in love with their alma mater. Too bad you’re not!
Sidney Madden, a sophomore at Hofstra University said, “My dad really wanted me to go to his alma mater, UMass Amherst, not only because of price but also because he had so much fun during his college years there. The problem was too many people from my high school went to that school… and I wanted to get out of Massachusetts and experience living away from home.”
Even if you’ve been bombarded with stories about how awesome of a time your mom had in school or constantly hear all about the great opportunities available at your dad’s old college, it may not be right for you. Do a little research, and then pick a time to calmly sit down with your parents to show them what you love about your first choice school. Maybe you’re a budding biologist and you’ve found a school that has tons of opportunities for research, or is located right next to great places to intern or work at. Perhaps you want to go to a big university that has a great Greek community, or, contrastingly, would rather go someplace small in order to make connections with professors and other people on campus.
This is exactly what Sidney did. “Ultimately, I chose to go to Hofstra University, which is in New York, and convinced my dad through many long talks, weighing all the factors, that it’s where I would be happiest,” she explained.
Katie Burkholder, a guidance counselor at Cooper High School in New Hope, Minnesota, stresses the importance of finding the place where you feel most comfortable. “The student has to feel good about seeing herself at this college,” she said. “It’s best not to force a student to go to any particular college.”
Make sure your parents know what’s important to you, and show them why your school of choice is a great fit with whatever it is you value. Explain to them that while they enjoyed their time at their respective schools, you feel there are better opportunities and several significant advantages somewhere else. Remind them that you’re the one who will be spending the next four years at the school, not them, so it’s important you go somewhere that makes you happy. (As an aside, if you can’t think of anything you like about a college other than “They have a really great rec center!” or “I really like the cupcake bar in the dining hall,”your parents might have a point.)
The problem: Your dream school is way too pricey.
This is one argument where your parents have a good point. As the primary income earners in the family, they probably have a much better idea of what’s in the family’s budget and price range when it comes to costly endeavors like college than you do.
“Student loans can be very stressful. If the student can apply for a merit-based scholarship or grants, this will help cover the costs. If not, it’s a tough sell to attend an expensive college,” Burkholder explains.
That doesn’t mean your dream school is out of the question, however. If you haven’t already, work with the school’s financial aid department and see if the school has any more in aid to offer. Sometimes, the first estimate given by the Financial Aid department isn’t always a final offer. If fewer students enroll than expected, more funds may become available. Make sure to ask about any scholarships the school sponsors that you may not have known about or applied for as well.
Don’t forget about outside funding sources as well. Check out great sources for scholarships and check Her Campus for articles containing links to scholarships both collegiettes and pre-collegiettes can apply for. Check with the academic department you’re interested in studying in as well to see if they offer any departmental awards, or have ideas or know where current students go for help with tuition.
Spending a year or two and completing general credits at a community college is becoming a more common path for collegiettes to explore. This can be a great way to cut costs and save up for a pricier school in a year or two. Check out this Her Campus article to learn more about different options community colleges offer that might be just as good a fit for you.
Keep in mind that documents like FAFSA need to be re-completed and submitted every year, so aid could change from year to year, especially if the one you’re currently applying for reflected out-of-the-ordinary financial circumstances (a parent getting laid off and collecting unemployment, or an unexpected inheritance, for example). Even if your dream school is a bit out of reach this year, a transfer could be a possibility down the road.