Not thinking though college choices?

Avatar for melissamc
Community Leader
Registered: 03-22-2007
Not thinking though college choices?
21
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 3:38pm

How would you handle the following situations?

I have a friend whose daughter is at the top of her class, and was offered a full scholarship at an out of state college.  Instead, she's thinking of attending a different college in a different state so that she will be close to a boy she met online.  She's interested in being a doctor, so has years of schooling and training ahead of her.

I was telling my sister about it, and she has a friend that went through something similar.  The daughter in that scenario was offered a full scholarship to one college, but she didn't like their program for education, so she chose to attend a college where she is only receiving financial aid. 



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Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 3:55pm

I would first want to make sure she has researched the college that is offering her a full scholarship.  Just because they offered a full scholarship doesn't necessarily mean they are the right college for her, has the program she wants, the environment or features she is looking for in college.  Now obviously turning down a full scholarship sounds bad, but being at a school that doesn't suit her for 4 years, possibly more, just to do it for free isn't necessarily a good idea either.  If she was my daughter, and I will talk from experience because we just went through this partially, I would sit down with her and have her list out or tell me what hte pros and cons of each college is, factoring in majors and programs, social interests and clubs, any other variables such as boyfriends and other friends she may already know is going there, etc.  Of course finances will factor into that also.

My ODD was recruited by a college for a sports team, she loves the campus, its an excellent program and I know she will thrive on it.  Not including financial aid as of right now, she has 40% of the estimated per year cost covered in scholarships minimum, but it will increase each year based on the sports team's scholarship figures.  After seeing the college during her recruitment visit, meeting the coaches and other teammates, she decided not to apply anywhere else, including the other top college she had originally planned on attending which would have been near relatives so she could live with them instead of on campus, the price of tuition, even out of state, was significantly less that the other one.  She made a very good case and ultimately its their decision, its their education, and its their debt to pay.  My ODD knows that we don't have the money for the college she picked, she knows how we feel about racking up tons of college debt, but she has made the decision after doing all the research and I respect her decision. 

All you can do is hope that you have taught them plenty of good lessons over the years and they can go through their own decision making process and make the best decisions positive.  If not, unfortunately it can end up being a hard lesson learned.  Others may disagree with that, but ultimately you are raising kids to be independant and make these decisions.  My DH would say that if you planned on helping with college and they go somewhere you don't want them to, you withhold that money and make them pay for it entirely.  I don't have that same opinion, but I know others do.

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Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 8:03pm

Families are different. How kids look at it will not only depend on their parents but on their peers.

We've told the kids from the beginning that we will help with college but they aren't getting free rides from us. My 16-year-old is a junior and pretty determined to go where the money is. She's applying to schools with good programs but also excellent reputations with financial aid. She's watching her older friends graduate high priced schools with 80 grand in debt and a theatre degree. She thinks it's idiotic and we agree with her lol. She's also watching kids who are being frugal about their education and they are happy and thriving. For us, we've been talking about practicality and college for a long while and so, I really don't see her giving up a full ride for anything. 

What would we do if she DID make this choice? Well, It would be her choice. We'd still help in the manner we would have helped in any situation but if it's not enough, well, she'll be graduating in debt and it'll be hers to manage. 

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 10:46pm

There is nothing wrong with an adult making her own choices. She has to live with the consequences. My dd received scholarship offers from schools. Some were for more than others. She had to find a school that fit her. I also would not preach what major one should pick. My dh has a theater major. He is an electrician but earned because he loves learning, history, set building, camera angles and more. It makes his life richer. We encouraged our kids to take some arts because that is what keeps the world beautiful!!!

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Tue, 03-19-2013 - 10:46pm

There is nothing wrong with an adult making her own choices. She has to live with the consequences. My dd received scholarship offers from schools. Some were for more than others. She had to find a school that fit her. I also would not preach what major one should pick. My dh has a theater major. He is an electrician but earned because he loves learning, history, set building, camera angles and more. It makes his life richer. We encouraged our kids to take some arts because that is what keeps the world beautiful!!!

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 1:35am

Haha, I have nothing against being a theatre major. I'm a technical theatre major myself though haven't worked in the field in the last 10 years. My DH runs an audio/video house. My kids have been in educational and professional theatre from early ages. We just closed 2 plays last week and are opening a third on Friday. My parents are musicians. We all play several instruments... lots of arts supporting in our family. It's just incredibly important to be realistic about your major. 80,000 dollars is a tremendous amount of debt for anyone, let alone someone working as a stage electrician in a regional theatre... I've done it and REALLY glad I didn't have that sort of debt to pay down. Plus, you don't NEED to rack up that kind of debt to get a quality education in theatre. You just don't. There are many fantastic programs that can offer you lots of hands on experience (which is what you really need) and come with much smaller price tags. So, nothing against theatre at all... I'm against starting a new life with a mountain of debt in a career for which only the tiniest fraction make any real money in their life time.

If you are majoring in law, medicine, finance, bio-tech... something where there is more wide spread high earning potentiol then sure, 80,000 in debt may be down-right reasonable. Not so much in the arts.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 11:20am

I completely agree.  We *are* paying for our kids' college educations, and they can major in whatever they want - the oldest is double majoring in Anthropology and English, the middle one plans to major in Music or Music Ed, depending on the school.  They do have the luxury of majoring in what they want - I am sorry that everyone doesn't have that option, because the liberal, visual, and performing arts are as important in this world as engineering, sciences, and health professions.

However, if they were going into debt to major in English, we would be having a different conversation entirely.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 11:36am

Is your question about the wisdom of turning down financial aid, or is it about making a choice to attend college based on a relationship?

On the matter of financial aid, it depends so much on the situation.  DD has been offered a full scholarship to one of our state universities, but it's fifth on her list.  It would be a fun, pleasant place to go, she has friends there, all of the teachers in her HS music department went there, and she'd get a good education in music ed.  However, there's a lot she *wouldn't* get:  fellow students from a wide variety of places & backgrounds, a big city, a challenging liberal arts curriculum *in addition to* music ed, and peers at her intellectual level (their average GPA and SAT scores are waaaaaaaay below DD's).  The reason they're offering her a full scholarship isn't because of need, it's because she's way overqualified for them.  Overall, it isn't the best place for her, which is why it's fifth on her list.

As for a HS student picking a college based on a relationship - WRONG.  An 18yo is NOT an adult, even if they have the right to vote and to medical records privacy and to go get killed for their country.  With all the overwhelming psychological research that shows that the human brain doesn't reach maturity until the mid-20s, it is irresponsible of parents to say, "Well, my 18yo is an adult, so she can make all her own decisions," as if she were suddenly different on her 18th birthday than she was the day before. 

We went through an extensive college selection process for my now-20yo DS.  We visited 15 colleges, half of them twice.  We devoted an entire year to helping him find the right college.  Two months before going off for his freshman year, he announced that his GF, who lived in Europe, was going to come LIVE IN THE TOWN where he was going to school.  We quickly pointed out that this would be a bad situation for both him & her:  she would know no one and would not be a student, while he would miss out on the very things that made him choose the college because he'd feel he needed to be with her all the time.  Now, I was very fond of this girl, so it had nothing to do with her suitability - it was just that it would be a terrible decision all around.  Thankfully, he agreed with me.  And surprise, surprise, they broke up soon after he went to college.  Meanwhile, he *has* gone on to take full advantage of being there, has a double major and a research assistantship for the year, and another assistantship for the summer. 

My niece also nearly made a very bad decision.  She had a full tuition scholarship to a famous Jesuit university and nearly turned it down to go to a public university where her boyfriend was going.  Thankfully *she* made the right decision and accepted the scholarship.  She & her BF broke up within a couple of months too.

Now, I don't think a college decision rules the rest of your life - you can transfer if you find you made a bad decision - but if you are going to put that much money and effort into something, you should try to make THE best decision possible.  And parents need to help make that decision.

Avatar for melissamc
Community Leader
Registered: 03-22-2007
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 4:41pm
I think it bugs me more that she's making decisions based on a relationship, I just don't agree with that at all. She's still so young, and has so many opportunities available to her. It really bothers her parents about the scholarship, they can't afford to help her out much if she chooses otherwise. I agree that colleges have their advantages over others with regards to different majors. Her scholarship is at University of Kansas, I imagine they would have a pretty decent premed program.

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Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Wed, 03-20-2013 - 4:55pm
Ability to pay is a biggie. It's one thing to turn down a scholarship if your family can cover the expenses anywhere you go. It's not unreasonable to choose a favored school with lesser financial aid if the difference is minimal. If your family can't help out much and she's got a full ride to a decent school (which, if she's pre-med is only the very beginning of her long academic career,) it's just irresponsible to pass it up for some boy that it's unlikely she'll stay with. It shows her youth and immaturity. But in the end, it's her choice and she'll pay the consequences for it.
Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Thu, 03-21-2013 - 9:26am
Unfortunately hormones and the euphoria of young love can trump common sense at this age...
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