Another High School Student Writes: “I Read Last Week’s Post. I Could Really Relate.”

Posted by on Oct 22, 2012 in General, General College Success/Responses to Other College Entities | 9 comments

This student’s parents believe that an out-of-state university is the best way to get new experiences. The student disagrees. What to do?

(We interrupt my scheduled program for this week–but only for a day or two–to address yet another student who has a similar issue to last week’s high school student. Abundant thanks to all of you who commented on that post. Can I call on you again for your wisdom? Up next on the blog, many students are struggling now that college is really underway. I’m getting notes like crazy! I’ll talk about two write-in comments regarding professors who seemingly refuse to help. Look for it! One other programming note: I’ll be the guest on Jodi Okun’s #CollegeCash this Thursday at 7 p.m. Join in an important discussion about communication, grades, and struggling at mid-term or finals time. I’d love to chat with you! Okay, here’s our other high school student who needs some advice…)

Hi, Ellen:

I’m a high school senior. I read “What Do You Say to a High School Student Who Feels Lost and Controlled By Family?” I could really relate because my parents refuse to let me go to the University I want to go to.

I’ve been doing a lot of research with outside help and came to the conclusion that University is my number one choice. Unfortunately, my parents have never wanted me to go to this school because we are from the same state. My parents want me to have a different experience. My major fits heavily with a program at University. Also, I am involved with a competitive activity and would like to continue that, which I can’t do if I leave this area.

The last few months, I’ve been stressed. My parents refuse to pay for University if I go and my relationship with them will be ruined. However, I’ll have everything going for me and I could continue with my competition. Could you give me any advice or references to help? I really appreciate it.



Once again, I invite everyone to provide help! College prep folks, what do you have to say?  


Wow! Thank you so much for writing. It sounds like your situation is very similar to the student who wrote in last week. So let me break down what you’re telling me:

First of all, you mentioned getting some outside help for your decision? What answers are you receiving?

I can definitely see what your parents are saying about wanting you to go to a different school and have other experiences, but as someone who went to the same school in their hometown (this was due to necessity on my part–I was a nontraditional student and didn’t have a choice), if it is a good school with a good program, there is no reason why you can’t experience plenty at that school. There will be students from other places attending, so you will have exposure to new people. Also, you could accept a job later in a different city–that is what I ended up doing–so who is to say that you won’t ultimately end up in a new place?

It sounds to me like you have researched your options. I don’t hear that you are taking the safe route by staying home. You seem to be choosing this school because it genuinely has a quality program that works for you. What you said about your extracurricular activity also makes sense since that seems to be a priority.

Perhaps before you talk to your parents again, you could do even more homework: Contact the university and ask about programs that enable you to take trips abroad while you are a student there. Maybe your parents would view this as a way for you to gain new experiences.

Next, I would contact an adviser in your potential program and say, “I am a high school senior in this state. My parents are very concerned that if I attend this university, I will not have the kind of exposure and experience that attending an out-of-state university would provide. I have done a lot of research on other universities and am committed to attending the program here. Is there some other information that my parents may not know about this program that I could mention?”

What if you agreed to look at graduate schools away from your hometown? Or maybe if you said you’d give it a year at this school and then re-evaluate?

It sounds very clear to me that if you take a different option, your heart won’t be in it. What about if you sit down with your parents and say, “I understand all of your reasons for wanting me to branch out and attend another institution. I have done my research with outside help, and I’ve come back to that University would give me a wonderful education in my field.

I know you are very concerned about me having broader experiences. I’ve looked into other ways I could get that while at University (show all your examples). I could even take trips abroad during my course of study. What if we re-evaluated how things are going after a year? What if I agreed that I would consider doing graduate school elsewhere? I am not making this decision to stay safe or because I’m afraid of leaving home, or because I want to go against you. I am making this decision because I want the best education. This school has wonderful opportunities for me and allows me to continue my competition. I want and need your support, but I am willing to figure out another way if you absolutely cannot support me. I hope you will reconsider.”

Now let me qualify one aspect of this discussion: I’m also trying to look at this from your parents’ point of view (because I don’t know the full story), considering why else they might want you to have a change of scenery. The only other thing I can think of is your parents want you to have a different social landscape (?). This will obviously be a different discussion where you have to assure (remind) your parents: “I will be involved with students from everywhere coming into this university. I’m excited about meeting new people and making new friends.” You also probably already know that your social structure is going to definitely change after high school–your friends are going to go all over and relationships are just different. I’m only bringing this up as a hypothesis–I know you didn’t mention it at all in your note.

Ultimately, you may also have to be prepared that your parents will not support this decision and you will have to find the funding and housing on your own. This is not impossible and your outside help can work with you to figure that out.

I am so glad that the original student write-in was helpful. I hope you’ll follow up and tell me how your conversations go. I know you can advocate for yourself!

All right, all… Did anyone experience pushback from a parent on a university choice? How did you talk about that? I paid for my education myself, so I cannot relate to this, but I bet a lot of others can!


  1. I agree there needs to be more conversations between you and your parents. I am struggling to understand why your parents are not open to your thoughts..maybe there is more to this ..we may need to know.

    • Hi, Jodi,
      Thank you! There could be more to the story for sure, though I think there is credence to the fact that some parents just want students to get a broader experience… get away from the home state. We will see if we can find out more. I appreciate your comment!


  2. Great advice, Ellen. I agree that keeping the lines of communication open is the most important thing to do right now for this student. For the student, keep in mind that your parents won’t be attending college…you will be. Parents are an essential part of the decision making process, but the decision should be yours.

    Here are some great ways that parents can help:

    • Amy,
      Yes, in both of these situations, it is the student who has to live with the decisions. I know they feel like impossible choices. I really hope that everyone can come to some form of comfortable agreement.

      Thank you so much for including your blog!

  3. thank you for the aticle. i have a 16 year old and am looking forward to helping him go to college. have an awesome day.

    • You are very welcome, Gregory! Thank you for writing!

  4. Another tricky situation, and another one where communication between this student and parents is essential. One of the really important things for both this student and parents to do is to try to really listen to each other. Sometimes we become so concerned with making our convincing arguments that we don’t really hear what the other person is saying. I hope both parents and student can really listen to each other.

    This student doesn’t say anything about living on campus or living at home. Even if the University is in the same town, living at school will help with those broader experiences. The suggestion about study abroad and graduate school somewhere else are good. There may also be summer opportunities in other places. If all of those suggestions don’t seem to help, then there may be other things going on.

    Ultimately, the student needs to be comfortable with the decision. I’ve seen too many students sabotage their success because they didn’t believe in what they were doing. Hopefully, student and parents can find a middle ground.

    • Hi, Vicki,

      Thank you, once again. I am not certain about the university being in the same city or the same state, but definitely living on campus would give that broader perspective. I hadn’t thought about summer, but you are right. That is another opportunity for travel elsewhere, or even temporary employment.

      Your advice is superb. I knew coming from the parent perspective, once again, you’d know exactly the right thing to say!

      • Didn’t know the forum rules allowed such brlialint posts.

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