While on the college campus tour circuit, I couldn’t help but notice two types of high school students on the tour. The ones being lead and the ones leading.
The ones being lead usually had their parents asking the questions, while they exuded the vibe of a child being dragged to store for back-to-school shopping.
The students leading rarely deferred to the parents or didn’t even have their parents there at all.
Parents want what is best for their child. Some parents have been dreaming of this moment for their entire life and now this is their child’s chance.
The one suggestion is both a tip and a cautionary warning.
Warning: If You Lead, You’ll Prevent Them Coming Into Their Own
If you are the main driver of your child’s college decision process, you may sabotage their college experience. How? Because if your kid isn’t allowed to choose the college that they believe is the right fit, one of the following scenarios may happen:
- Your child will drop out as it was never the right fit for them
College students we spoke to said don’t pick the top school you get into, but the ones that best fits you.
- Your kid will end up hating the college and want to transfer by their sophomore year
- Your kid will struggle through it, but resent you for making the choice for them
- Your child will agree with your decision and defer to you for a majority of their life decisions going forward, unable to find their own voice.
Watching families on these tours, I couldn’t help but wonder, how many of them had even asked their kid why they wanted to go to college in the first place. These parents are about to invest in the largest expenditure of their child’s life and they haven’t even explored whether their kid understands why they are going. So the question is what type of parent do you want to be during this college decision making process?
Tip: Let Go and Let Them Lead
If you think of the most impressive young adults, they are the ones that understand who they are. They have found their voice. The only way to achieve this is when a child feels empowered to lead themselves.
We don’t give high school kids enough credit. We see their immature decision making, their goldfish attention spans, and their hormonal mood swings, and assume that they don’t know what they want. Under that kid veneer is a young adult that wants to step into their power and this college decision provides them that chance.
Do not rob them of this opportunity. Instead follow their lead. Don’t worry. They still need you… for guidance, support, and perhaps someone to drive them to tours.
What’s the reward for letting go?
At their high school graduation, you’ll know that this person is stepping into their own and figuring out who they are, which is the one of the greatest gifts a parent can provide.