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Common versus uncommon parental restrictions on college choices

ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78986 replies701 threads Senior Member
We know that, for a "traditional" student attending college soon after high school graduation, parents have absolute veto power over the student's college choice, unless the student gets a full ride merit scholarship.

But what actual restrictions do parents tend to place on students' college choices? (Mentioning such restrictions does not necessarily mean approval.)

* Baseline affordability is an obvious restriction. However, we do see lots of sad stories in April from situations where this was not discussed or mentioned until the student has a bunch of acceptances that are too expensive.
* Location appears to be a common one, since it appears that many parents do not want their college student kids to go far from home. Some parents want the student to stay home and commute, even if a more distant school is less expensive overall.
* Parents preferring high prestige colleges is sometimes mentioned, with students complaining of emotional abuse or parental threats to not contribute if they consider a less prestigious college (including anything that could possibly be a safety for admissions, or even if the less prestigious college is a better academic fit for the student).
* Parents restricting the students to specific majors is sometimes mentioned.
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Replies to: Common versus uncommon parental restrictions on college choices

  • moonchildmoonchild 3266 replies30 threads Senior Member
    We had no restrictions- no medical issues or other things that would prevent kid from making a choice.

    Dh and I liked all of the colleges on our kids' lists; they were pickier than we were. One went 3000 miles away, the other went 90 minutes away, yet we saw both of them about the same amount over the four years- although it was certainly easier for the one close to home to come and go over the holidays. Holiday travel is a bear, which is something kids don't often consider or think they'll care about. The kid on the other coast spent two Thanksgivings at school, primarily because travel then is so difficult and time is limited.

    We never considered restricting the kids to certain majors or using prestige as a measure of suitability, but I'm sure both factored into their decisions.
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6655 replies140 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    We set a baseline for the combined SAT M/CR at the top of the mid-range of 1200 minimum.
    edited May 2014
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  • awcntdbawcntdb 3553 replies0 threads Senior Member
    1. We set a restriction early on they could not apply to a school where they were below the 50% of score averages. They had to be at the 50% mark or higher. Turns out both DSs made that moot for all schools, so they could apply wherever. However, that was a limitation they know existed before they took any standardized tests.

    2. We also set the restriction they could not attend a school where they would not be really challenged and engaged academically.
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  • HuntHunt 26787 replies131 threads Senior Member
    Some parents don't want their kids to attend the sports arch-enemy of the parents' alma mater.
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  • awcntdbawcntdb 3553 replies0 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    ^^ Or to the acknowledged academic rival school of the parents' alma mater. That was never a restriction we set, and my one DS obliged and did just that. But, he went one step further - did not even apply to his parents' alma mater.
    edited May 2014
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  • nervous momnervous mom 37 replies0 threads Junior Member
    We also wanted our children to be at the 50% or higher for both M and CR parts of the SAT. If at the 90% or higher, we wanted to see a fair-sized cohort of similar peers, such as might be found in the honors college of a large research university.
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  • VSGPeanut101VSGPeanut101 865 replies21 threads Member
    This is tongue in cheek but I've told my daughter she can go anywhere but party schools....for me that's Northwestern (I'm a u of c alum) and Duke (too much lax-bro culture).
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  • SlymladySlymlady 89 replies7 threads Junior Member
    No community college
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  • awcntdbawcntdb 3553 replies0 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    edited May 2014
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  • Irishmomof2Irishmomof2 945 replies18 threads Member
    Any restrictions we have are purely financial.
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  • RChandlerRChandler 43 replies7 threads Junior Member
    My Bro's restrictions:

    Only European school he's allowed to go to is Cambridge(Oxbridge Rivalry)
    Top 15 in his choice of major(Finance)
    No Pre-law/Pre-med
    No public schools other than UVA/UMich/UCBerkeley(There were private school restrictions but they were a ton of those)

    I think these seem reasonable except for number 1. My parents have nothing against European schools but we believe that other than Cambridge/Oxford US schools are more academically strong. And oxford was out as my family is heavy Cambridge(This was more a light hearted restriction). The public school restriction - my family has money, and prefers private schools as Wall St. recruits more heavily from there.
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  • Much2learnMuch2learn 4610 replies168 threads Senior Member
    We did not place formal restrictions.

    However, we did discuss issues like:
    1. We did not want to pay a lot more money for a college that looks fun, if she is not getting a better education in return.

    2. Choosing a school with programs that match her interests.

    3. Choosing a college that would be challenging, but not so difficult that she was only studying and not getting involved in clubs, or research, or social activities, and enjoying the college experience.

    4. Choosing a school with good access to internships and real world experiences

    5. Choosing a school with strong job placement when college is done.





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  • scsiguruscsiguru 228 replies15 threads Junior Member
    Started off by looking at the CTCL's
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  • NJSueNJSue 2852 replies18 threads Senior Member
    We had no absolute restrictions (other than certain schools which I believe are overpriced at full-pay and for which I would have resented writing the check, but I'm not going to name them). I did consider these factors, among others, in evaluating schools during the application stage:
    four-year graduation rate
    freshman retention rate
    percentage of full-time residential students (should be very high)
    percentage of lower-level courses taught by part-time contingent faculty (should be low)
    percentage of faculty possessing terminal degrees in their disciplines
    per-student endowment (a sign of deep resources and ability to offer classes in arcane areas of student interest)
    existence of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter (not a requirement, but a signal)
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  • calmomcalmom 20626 replies167 threads Senior Member
    No restrictions but a requirement: My kids had to apply to the UC system (both applied to 3 campuses, though I don't remember if 3 was a requirement or merely a suggestion) -- with the understanding that they would be allowed to attend any UC that they got into -- but that I would not promise to pay for private colleges if cost exceeded the cost of whichever UC was most expensive after factoring in financial aid.

    The UC system was their safety -- hence the requirement. Not exactly a financial "safety" for me, but I did feel that I had a parental obligation to subsidize an in-state public education. Both kids ended up with out-of-state school that were somewhat more expensive, but well under the full-pay COA for the in-state publics.

    The requirement was due to finances, and also because I didn't want to find myself in the position of paying a premium for a private college that I believed to be significantly weaker academically than the our in-state public.
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  • calmomcalmom 20626 replies167 threads Senior Member
    @awcntdb‌
    We set a restriction early on they could not apply to a school where they were below the 50% of score averages. They had to be at the 50% mark or higher.

    That's seem like an odd restriction to me. Can you explain why? Were you looking for schools where you could expect large merit awards?
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  • turtletimeturtletime 1247 replies12 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2014
    Our restrictions were on finances and housing. She had to choose a school that could promise housing for at least the first year (if she wasn't living at home.) Preferably a school that offered all students on-campus housing all 4 years. She plans to keep her involvement in the theatre department and they generally pull late nights on campus on a regular basis. Knowing we can't afford to send her with a car, the notion of my 17-year-old bus hopping alone at midnight in a place like Chicago was just too much for me. As it turns out, all her favorites were in smaller communities with 90 percent and higher living on campus all four years. Perfect.
    edited May 2014
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