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Should parents encourage students to apply to colleges (locations) that suit the parents' values?

SCTwinsMomSCTwinsMom Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
How important is it to help your child find a college that reflects your (the parent's) values or is in a community that reflects those values? I know of parents who select Christian colleges because those reflect their values. There also are some anecdotes of students who tried an out-of-state college but bounced back home because they felt out of place in an environment with different values. Now, we're faced with this decision too. Only, with the twist that the state in which our family lives is one where the normative values are out of line with our own. For example, our children continually are the only ones who speak up in school when their public school biology teacher says he doesn't believe in evolution or their U.S. government teacher repeats a factual untruth about current government leaders.

Although there are some decent schools in our state and it would be cheaper to go that route, I cannot help but feel strongly that I'd like them to try a different state and environment -- one at least more closely aligned to what we experienced when we grew up (and before we moved here and stayed well beyond our initial plans). My husband says that if they go the route I'm advocating, then we won't see them as often and will experience that loss. Has anyone else dealt with this issue in the college hunt process?

Replies to: Should parents encourage students to apply to colleges (locations) that suit the parents' values?

  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 12,773 Forum Champion
    edited February 26
    Another thing to look into is whether college student or college professors also don't believe in Evolution, for example. HS teachers often come from the state they work in, but College professors don't.

    So if you look at your State U, I bet there will people more open to facts.
    If you look at a small Christian college, there would be less of a chance.
  • Beenthere22Beenthere22 Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
    I think what really matters is how your child feels about it. It sounds like your children may have strong feelings about the topic. I know my husband couldn't wait to get away from his "home" state, and ended up at a college and grad school that were closer to where his parents were from originally (geographically, politically, and socially). He was happy with his decision, and visited them on breaks and has a good relationship with them now.
  • SCTwinsMomSCTwinsMom Registered User Posts: 20 Junior Member
    Thank you! YChoatieMom and bopper, your advice is very helpful. You're right about having instilled values that should carry our children forward and about the professors. We are friends with professors from local universities, and they share our values. I just can't shake the feeling that our kids might gain something from being immersed in a culture where they can be part of the majority, rather than always the cultural/political minority.
  • SJ2727SJ2727 Registered User Posts: 1,068 Senior Member
    Unless I misunderstood your first post, it sounds like your children have the same values you do? In that case the question is about finding a place which jibes with your childen’s values (rather than yours, they just happen to coincide in this instance) which I think is absolutely right to do. Seeing them less often is something that might happen anyway; ultimately they need to find a place they fit, imo.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,501 Senior Member
    bopper wrote:
    Another thing to look into is whether college student or college professors also don't believe in Evolution, for example.

    Evolution-denial does seem to be more out of the mainstream at colleges (even religious ones) than among the general public. For example:

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,501 Senior Member
    SCTwinsMom wrote:
    Although there are some decent schools in our state and it would be cheaper to go that route,

    Make sure that you have a good handle on cost and affordability issues before encouraging your kids to choose what are likely to be more expensive options.
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Registered User Posts: 3,153 Senior Member
    That is a really tough question. I live near two small, pretty conservative church-affiliates schools who get students from all over the nation who belong to that church. Why? Because that's what the family values. I went to high school in an area with a large modern Mennonite population. Most went to the same college in Indiana. Why? Values. Is there anything wrong with that? No, as long as the kid is on board, and many are. But if you're putting these restrictions on your kids because you feel them resisting the family values and want to keep them from straying, you are probably setting yourself up for some serious heartbreak. You can't keep children on a path you've chosen for them if they don't want to stay.

    We were a follow the money family, prioritizing no debt over intangibles. Both kids attended colleges that were probably way more conservative than they were (but the area is pretty red, too). However, they had teachers from all over the country/world and were exposed to new ideas, too. After graduation, each moved away and landed in more left-leaning places. I don't think the colleges themselves held them back at all in terms of idea development or exposure.
  • MusakParentMusakParent Registered User Posts: 837 Member
    So we have a friend that was a prof in a public college in Idaho that had a lot of Mormons and very conservative population. He said the college faculty and staff were not conservative at all in general. He taught evolution, etc. Prof jobs are very competitive and if you want to work in academia sometimes you just have to go to where the jobs are even if it's not in a trendy, liberal urban area.

    I think most kids have the ability to bloom where they land. I wouldn't assume the colleges in a red state won't lean liberal, especially publics.

    Getting to hem and haw about this really is a luxury for the more well to do. Run those NPC's, have a financial safety, see what kind of merit and FA might be available to your student and let the chips fall where the may. In general, I think for most families paying 2-3X the amount for an undergrad degree to be in a particular area isn't worth it. If you can easily afford it, carry on. Taking out loans, leaving a student with substantial debt upon graduation, or endangering retirement set up can be life limiting for both parents and students.
  • AltrasAltras Registered User Posts: 359 Member
    "Values" is one of many variables that goes into formulating a list of colleges to apply to. And just as parents and children may disagree on the relative importance of geography, school size, etc, they may have different ideas on where values of schools fits in. But aside from financial restrictions, the child's ranking of those variables and the resulting school list is really all that should matter IMO. The are essentially adults (usually 17yo) and making decisions about their adult life. Attaching the purse strings to other variables like values would be manipulative. You can hope that the values you've taught have taken root, just like you can hope they remember to chew with their mouth shut, but its ultimately their life and their choice(s).
  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 Registered User Posts: 1,149 Senior Member
    Once they are off on their own, they need to find their own values shaped by you and your family but with the open mindedness to explore various viewpoints and lifestyles which they find comfortable or not. Fit is so important to the college experience that varies by child. Some kids would be very happy at a school they is highly activist and others would not. Some kids want to retain a feel based on what "values" they grew up with. Some chose a religious college for this reason. Others flock to a school which is avidly and diametrically opposed.

    As an adult, I have found many people who think they are openminded to be very closed minded and I have found many people who hold opinions which are vastly different from my own to be open to other ideas. College is about learning that there are many people in the world who are very different than you. It's about learning to discuss ideas in an open forum. Or, at least idealistically that's what happens.

    My kids are very different. I wouldn't send them to a school which they didn't chose even if I liked the schools values or bent. I would tell them pros and cons of their choices. But I wouldn't make the decision at all.
    Kids are already ready to get out on their own by college. I would guess you can find people who are like-minded even at the smallest colleges. Most kids follow their parents ideology and thinking to a large degree. But they have to find their own path.
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