Are we (parents) TOO obsessed?

<p>College</a> Choice: Why Are We So Obsessed With Our Kids' Decisions?</p>

<p>I love the last comment: </p>

<p>Which college your child attends is, in many ways, the final parenting badge. It is the summary of 18 years of parent teacher conference's, little league, ballet, projects, and so on. It is also the final moment of "learn from MY mistakes". For some parents it is an attempt for a "do over". All that being said... For me it is an attempt to help my child find the balance of a school that "fits" them, will open doors and won't cost more than its worth. Best of luck to all of us.</p>

<p>Thanks for sharing an interesting article. It made me think.</p>

<p>I think it has something to do with loving our children so much that we want the best for them. But we know that life is full of twists and turns that do have unexpected and major impact, both good and bad. Where one goes to college is often no exception. This causes us anxiety, so we try to exert some control over what is not a totally controllable situation. Some of us get very involved in the college selection process. </p>

<p>Perhaps the college decision, in particular, invites this sort of response because it is one of the few life experiences that seemingly can be ranked and sorted ('good, better, best' colleges, at least in someone's mind), unlike so many other decisions (choice of spouse or job). It also is often the child's first major fork in the road - up to that point, the kid just went to school locally, presenting far fewer choices, if any, for the parents to make, even though these, too, left their mark. What 2in2Mom said is also true, that parents want to use their life experience to help an inexperienced young person find a good fit which offers opportunities and good value. Throw into the mix that though this is the kid's life, the process of individuation is still not complete, the parent is footing the hefty bill (or securing FA), and often feels, rightly or wrongly, that others will judge their kid or their parenting ability by the college name. </p>

<p>Problem is, even in that 'perfect' college (which doesn't exist) life will still hand your child their share of twists & turns. Just the geographical location of my college had a huge impact on the rest of my life, in ways that could not possibly have been predicted at the time.</p>

<p>Yes. most are too obsessed and not in a good way. Our parents didn't behave that way and we all seem to have turned out just fine. And I am pretty sure our parents loved us just as much as we love our kids.</p>

<p>I'm sure some parents are too obsessed; I would not say that about the parents I know in my neighborhood. Most seem to be trying to help their children find the best places for them. I hang out here so I don't bother my child with my neuroses!</p>

<p>I wish my parents had made an effort to help me plan when I was in HS. I was left on my own to figure out where I wanted to go; the only college visit I went on was with a friend's family, and there was no internet back then! I don't think the college I attended was the best fit, and some good guidance would have been beneficial.</p>

<p>I can relate to mamabear. I feel like the kids around me, in the 80s, were mostly ignored, and we were on their own finding schools. My own parents refused to fill out financial aid forms, not because we were rich but because my father is one of those paranoid people who is worried about the security of his information. They didn't give me any money or advice about school, even though my dad is a college professor and ivy league grad himself! So now that my kids are approaching college age I am a bit obsessed. I am trying to redo myself through my kids, for good or ill. But I must recognize that in doing that I might be creating a different kind of problem. My parents made me independent. I'm making my kids dependent. Yikes.</p>

<p>The short answer to the question is 'yes'. We are way too obsessed with all the details of our childrens' lives. (And I count myself in that category, unfortunately.)</p>

<p>For some reason, we are afraid to let our kids fail, and we want the path to be perfectly smooth for them. </p>

<p>The reality is that the choice of college makes a small difference in how a person turns out. But somehow we are convinced that having the 'right' school will lead to the 'right' career and the 'right' success.</p>

<p>I am not a helicopter parent, but I admit to being worried about their future. I'm trying to learn to let go and let them find their own way. I realize now that life would have been perfectly fine if I would have stayed out of my S's college planning. He is at a good school for him, but many others, including the one he thought he wanted, would have been just as fine. It is what we make of it, after all.</p>

<p>Red point. I had the same experience. My parents didn't even really want me to go to college, so basically I was on my own - pre-Internet. Mom told me I should concentrate on getting my mrs. degree instead. I'm very involved in my son's search for good or bad.</p>

<p>Yes. Some want to dictate where their children go. Some want some kind of affirmation that THEIR children are the smartest (thus, endless talk about Ivy League, grades, chancing, etc.). Some want to live vicariously through their children. Others (including me) just find it fun.</p>

<p>When I was a high school senior, I applied to colleges with which I was familiar and liked the course catalogs. College tours were non-existent. At one college my parents took me to visit while on vacation, the admissions department brushed us off -- like "why are you here?/we don't just show people around/etc."</p>

<p>The process now is enjoyable. The colleges want to sell themselves, and they frequently go all out to convince a student to apply. Tours of nice campuses, free meals at cafeterias with much better food than I ever had in school, friendly tour guides, hearing about interesting degrees in areas such as Cherokee Studies and American Sign Language, talks with professors, and sometimes even a free t-shirt! It almost makes me want to go back to college myself. When my own children are all in college, maybe I can volunteer to take some busy parents' children on college tours!</p>

<p>In addition, our youngest child has very much enjoyed going to college open houses for her older siblings. Sometimes the students invite her to go off on the separate sessions for would-be students (while we hear the financial information given to parents!), and she loves to rate the campuses and food. These open houses are family events, and given that our children know that we're not going to pressure them to like or not like certain colleges, they enjoy forming their own impressions.</p>

<p>I wish my parents had made an effort to help me plan when I was in HS. I was left on my own to figure out where I wanted to go; the only college visit I went on was with a friend's family, and there was no internet back then! I don't think the college I attended was the best fit, and some good guidance would have been beneficial.</p>

<p>I can relate to that.
My parents didn't attend PTA meetings, my performances at school or get involved with my studies. I suffered from lack of guidance & didn't graduate high school let alone go off to college.
My H didn't attend college either.</p>

<p>We have one daughter finishing up graduate school and another working on an environmental degree- we are very proud of both of them & actually think we could be * more* involved, not less.</p>

<p>Why am I obsessed with my kids' college decisions? Because $200,000 - $320,000 is hard to come by. I'm not going to let a 17 year-old spend it impulsively. If we can work together to find a set of schools that supports their goals at a price that meets my definition of value, then it's a win-win. </p>

<p>Plus, like Marsian said, it's fun.</p>

<p>Too funny this link made it to CC. The author lives nearby and started a thread on our local chat board looking for quips & quotes. I know several of the people quoted! (If allowed, I'm happy to post that link - far more interesting and snarky responses than so far on CC).</p>

<p>I have been heavily involved in my D's college selection and athletic recruiting process. I wanted her to find a school that matched her academically and athletically. Not sure if I would have chosen the school she got into, but I let the final selection be her choice. I must admit for a minute I was more concerned about what others might think. I got sucked into the "trying to impress" mode and not just focusing on where my D wanted to go. I am so glad I didn't stay in that mode and in the end believe my D chose the school that she wanted to go to.</p>

<p>One reason parents are more involved these days is because they actually have access to information.</p>

<p>Back in 1974, my parents didn't know enough about anything to be involved. And they were educated. I told my counselor I wanted to be in Honors US History, and when he said he would put me in AP (first year at my school) my parents asked me how I screwed up and why they were demoting me. They didn't know what the heck it was. After I took my PSAT and college brochures started rolling in, and local alumni got my name somehow and called me, I thought this meant I was a shoe-in everywhere. Which I wasn't, even then.</p>

<p>Nobody knew any better. At least nobody I hung out with.</p>

<p>I'm with Redpoint. My parents were waaay too un-involved, and they had Master's in Education. It was always expected I would go to college, but no guidance at all given regarding HS classes, college selection, choice of major, etc. They also waited until January of my sr. year to tell me they weren't contributing financially either :(</p>

<p>I was very involved with S regarding all of this. People who are completely hands-off must have a lot more $$ than me. Male brains aren't completely formed until age 25; I thought a little input was in order before he spent $200,000.</p>

<p>I also enjoyed the research and info gathering. Fortunately, or unfortunately, little sis fell in love with the sister school to S's school, so there won't be as many visits. It's a great fit for her and her major. Now I just have to figure out how to pay for it...</p>

<p>I think for me obsessed is too strong of a word. I've always been connected to higher education in some way or another over the years so I've always had an interest in the kids and their dreams and visions. For my kids, I saw helping them get into a college that would provide the best opportunity and fit for for them as the last "job" I had to do for them before they were adults. Like one of the examples in the article I'm a huge believer that fit is very important, that if they thrive and are excited by the classes and make good friends they will thrive and grow and that kids can thrive and grow in many places. for me it's been more about exploring new places and putting them forth as opportunities to the kids for them to accept or reject. Obsessive, no; caring, yes.</p>

<p>For me, obsessive means the parent is trying to live his crushed childhood dreams through his offspring. If the parent wanted to be a computer scientist at MIT and then had to settle for Texas Tech (don't take this offensively, Red Raiders!) for one reason or another, it doesn't matter thirty years down the line if little Brenda wants to be a dancer and little Jimmy wants to play baseball -- they better get into MIT or else. </p>

<p>Some other posters mentioned money here. It fascinates me how some parents talk about being 'frugal' for college and then drop thousands on meaningless, supposedly resume-boosting camps and volunteer trips (NYLC comes to mind) to give child a 'chance' at Princeton. Then, the kid starts to lose control of his own life -- he has to play several instruments and/or sports, take hardest classes available (mom/dad get first pick and then hassle the school if the kid gets a C- in a class that over his head), join a long list of clubs, spend long hours helping poor, blind, orphan nuns with speech disorders (to paraphrase Cal Newport), and have an SAT prep tutor in 2nd grade (never mind that the test format will change by the time the poor kid actually takes it).</p>

<p>Maybe, by some stroke of luck, this child will get into the parents' dream school. But will he able to function after not being allowed to breathe on his own? Most likely not.</p>

<p>Yes, we are too obsessed, but it can be handled in healthy channels. There are so many great kids here on CC with very involved parents. Are a few OVER-involved? Maybe so, but in my small circle of family and friends, I have seen much more harm from under-involvement than the reverse.</p>

<p>Uninvolved parents in the pre-internet age: My sister-in-law told me her story. When she was deciding where to go, she only knew that she wanted to go far from home, and ordered some brochures. After reviewing them, she chose the one that had horses and a pool!! She applied, was accepted, and when she showed up for freshman year, she couldn't find the stables or the pool. Turned out, she had accidentally applied to the wrong brochure! She stayed anyway, and enjoyed four years there. It wasn't accredited in her major at first, but happened to attain accreditation before she graduated. She says she's always been glad she went there; talk about blooming where you're planted!</p>