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Doing Things the Hard Way, Made Simple


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College Quandary

Dear Zoe,

I am a senior in high school. I want to go to X college, but my parents really want me to go to Y college. (I am leaving out the names [of the schools] so you won’t be biased. They are both pretty good schools—X is more expensive, but I was offered a lot of financial aid there, so it comes out about the same. My dad went to Y, so he is very attached to the idea of me going there. I am an only child.)

This might seem like a simple disagreement, but it’s not. I don’t feel like I can compromise about something this important, but my parents say that if I go to X they won’t pay for it. I’m thinking of not going to college at all now. What should I do? Is there any hope of changing their minds?

X or Bust

Dear X or Bust,

I can’t tell you which college to choose, that is your decision and your decision alone.

(In my opinion, your parents could do with this reminder as well.)

You say yourself that you don’t feel like you can compromise about this- so don’t. You, my dear, are the one who is going to college, not your parents. You have already made your decision.

Sit down with your parents in a non-combative setting. Tell your dad that you understand that he’s really excited that you got into Y, and that you know that he just wants you to have a college experience as amazing as his, but that you really think that X is a better fit for you. Tell them some things about it that will make you happy. Tell them why you’re so excited; ask them to be excited with you. Tell them that their support of your decision, whatever it may be, is really important to you- not just financial support, but emotional support as well. The two of you want to enter this new and exciting stage of your life on the same team.

If they still refuse to pay, take a little while to think about it.

Will you be resentful if you go to Y just because you can’t afford X on your own? Will it damage your relationship with your parents if you go to X anyway?

Though it will certainly be harder to go to X college if you have to pay yourself, it isn’t impossible! You can work and take out student loans. And if you leave things with your parents respectful, they might change their minds about paying once they see how happy you are.

Also, it is possible to transfer a year or two into college. Ask them if they’ll entertain the idea of you starting at X, and then switching if you aren’t happy, or vice versa.

Whatever you choose, do so without resentment. Start this new chapter of your life with the best attitude possible in order to get the best out of it.

Good luck.

Love,

Zoe