Talking to parents about college

<p>I'm not sure if this is in the right section of CC, but feel free to move it!</p>

<p>So last night I tried talking to my parents about college, but it was sort of a bust. We were all tired, and agreed that I should just make a list of questions for them to look over. It doesn't make too much sense to be asking, "How much are we willing to spend on college," only to be given an on-the-spot answer that will likely change.</p>

<p>So, I cm here to ask all of the parents here: what questions should I ask my parents? I'm sure you've talked to your children about college, or are planning to do so. Is there anything that they/ you brought up that you think is important for all families to ask?</p>

<p>I was only able to think up of two questions, which didn't help the situation: Are there any parts of the country that are off limits, and how much are we willing to spend?</p>

<p>Feel free to add questions of your own. I hope this helps not only me, but other students/ parents as well!</p>

<p>Good post! </p>

<p>I think this should be a start of a conversation and that as questions arise, answers may need to be discovered (i.e. not known at the present).</p>

<p>1) are you the only one going to have college tuition bills (are their other sibs coming behind you?)</p>

<p>2) Do they know the type of colleges (and or potential majors) you are considering? Even so-called "expensive" colleges can offer tremendous FinAid so it's worth keeping many options on the table at this point. Assure them that you'll do your part to seek scholarships/aid wherever possible. Let them know that just b/c they say X dollars, that you're not automatically going to go shopping for any college that requires X. If you find a great option that's less expensive, you'll take that.</p>

<p>3) Are they supportive of what you might major in? Is there any concern that it's a less employable field? (I'm not saying I agree with that notion but it's a legit concern by most paying parents) Is it Chemical Engineering or going to be a nail tech at the beauty college?</p>

<p>4) Loans are a normal component for most collegians. You and your parents need to decide on what's a reasonable loan amount to take on.</p>

<p>5) how important is it to you to go to near or far colleges? How important is it for parents that you go to a near or far college? Would you consider commuting?</p>

<p>Just understand that the college landscape has changed dramatically since they applied/attended college. Know that they may hold some outdated thinking and that's OK-- you'll all discover new info together. Good luck to you!</p>

<p>You are smart to start this conversation with your parents. Just make sure that it's not at a time when you're all tired. Start by telling them that you're thinking about college and that you're getting excited about the possibilities, but that you want to talk with them to get their input. Tell them you don't have all your questions lined up yet, but that you will be putting some together in the next few weeks. Showing excitement about going AND that you value their input will help them to get interested as well. Good luck!</p>

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I was only able to think up of two questions, which didn't help the situation: Are there any parts of the country that are off limits, and how much are we willing to spend?

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<p>These were excellent questions to start with. </p>

<p>As you come up with more questions -- and it may be handy to have them in written form because your parents seem to like doing things that way -- don't forget to tell as well as ask.</p>

<p>Let them know what's important to you, as well as finding out what's important to them. They may not know, for example, that you're interested in majoring in either subject X or subject Y, and that you only want to apply to colleges that offer both of these majors. Or that you like the idea of Greek life and want to apply to colleges that have it. Or that you really don't want to go to college in a big city. Or whatever. You need to share your thoughts with them, as well as getting their input on finances and on any restrictions that they plan to impose on your choices.</p>

<p>Love this post.
Love your parents' request for written questions and love that you are being thoughtful and thorough. This might be a difficult discussion for both you and them but it is necessary.</p>

<p>Give them some help as well by directing them to an EFC calculator. It will put the money in perspective. You might also want to run the net price calculator together for some of your top choices. </p>

<p>If you are a first-generation college student, you might want to ask them what questions that they may have about the process. Be prepared with some answers and resources of your own. Offer to meet together with a guidance counselor, have dates for local college fairs available, etc.</p>

<p>You don't tell us anything about your situation, so some of these questions may not apply, but I'm just throwing a bunch out. You may want to know if they care what you major in, if their financing carries any dependencies, how much they can afford, if anything, without taking on much debt, how much they expect you to pay, including for incidental expenses, if anything, if they expect you to take on some debt or otherwise help pay. You can learn a lot from reading through old posts, but things like study abroad, coops, whether you commute or live on campus, whether you start at community college and then go to a four ear school, whether they expect you to work while in college... Hope some of this helps. good for you for starting the dialogue and working with your parents.</p>

<p>You might also ask them if there's a required minimum GPA for their continued support, since that seems to be pretty common.</p>

<p>To further the financial aspects of the discussion, make sure that you/they are informed about the process of filling out FAFSA to include timelines, requirements for tax information, requirements for financial information, etc. If you aren't aware, FAFSA is the application for Federal financial aid. It is a requirement for many schools whether you intend to seek financial aid or not, and must be submitted in order for you (the student) to be eligible for Stafford loans. It will also give you an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) which might indicate (in VERY rough numbers) what amount your family could be expected to contribute each year to your education costs. Prepare them for a MAJOR shock...most families could not reasonably provide the EFC that FAFSA calculates.</p>

<p>Many times here on CC we read about students who's parents are unwilling to fill out a FAFSA or are reluctant to fill out their tax returns as early as possible. Make sure your parents understand the implications of either of these events. Failure to submit a FAFSA means no Stafford loan eligibility for you (the only loans the student can apply for without a co-signer). Regarding tax returns, your FAFSA will not be considered complete until your parents' tax return is filed and the electronic link between FAFSA and the IRS is successful. Schools will not process an official financial aid offer for you unless the FAFSA is complete, so if there are any issues which would prevent your parents from filing their taxes as early as possible after Jan 1st (the FAFSA cannot be submitted prior to Jan 1st) it may have a detrimental effect on your FA offer.</p>

<p>The whole college application/admissions/financial issues process can be incredibly daunting and often confusing. It's refreshing and outstanding to see a student taking the initiative and parents willing and interested to learn about it. Continue to use the folks here on CC as a source of info and a sounding board. You'll occasionally get some differing of opinions, but you'll get plenty of good advice nonetheless. Good Luck!!</p>

<p>Most parents have had college "discussions" with their kids since before middle school. Things like:<br>
"So you want to be a teacher just like Mrs. Smith?
*"Mom, how do I become a teacher?" *
"You have to go to college to do that" </p>

<p>If the family has not had those continuous conversations, then there are a lot of basic questions to ask.</p>

<p>My questions are very simple:</p>

<p>-Mom/Dad: Tell me your opinion of what career you think I would be good at or should try?</p>

<p>-Are you okay with me applying to a university? A community college?</p>

<p>-If I can find financial aid, are you okay with me going away from home or would you rather I find a local college here?</p>

<p>Parents are also "afraid" of "losing" their babies. It's a big step for a number of parents and "letting go" of their babies leaves them vulnerable and scared. They don't know how to answer you if the timing has come extremely fast, or if they have not been saving for a college expense account and feel guilty.</p>

<p>Then you write:<br>
-I would like to attend a 4 year university, cc, etc..<br>
-I know money is tight and I'm willing to find a job to help with expenses.<br>
-I also have been talking to my counselor about financial aid, would you be willing to meet with her or email her?</p>

<p>Lessen their stress by preparing a little. It should help</p>

<p>One thing that a lot of parents lose sight of is their bias vs what the student is actually trying to convey.We as elders tend to move the discussion towards our alma mater or similar schools.After reflecting on my first sons' experience I was guilty of all charges.You have to be honest with yourself and your parents about what your gut is telling you.Do not feel compelled to align yourself with a particular athletic league/conference just because family members have done so.Now is the time to begin this discussion. You are on the right track.</p>

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We as elders tend to move the discussion towards our alma mater or similar schools.

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<p>Some of us -- both parents and kids -- have more sense than that.</p>

<p>If my son had considered applying to my alma mater, I would have discouraged (though not forbidden) it. It was far too competitive a school, and he was planning a demanding major. He would have been in the bottom half of the class in terms of academic credentials and would probably have struggled to keep up with his classmates -- perhaps unsuccessfully. He was far better suited for the schools he chose to apply to, which were substantially less selective than my alma mater.</p>

<p>I learned later that several of my son's friends had encouraged him to apply to my alma mater because it has a good program in his major and because his chances of admission would have been enhanced by the legacy preference. He told them that he wasn't interested -- for exactly the same reasons I described above.</p>

<p>On the other hand, my daughter did attend my alma mater, and the other schools she applied to were similar to it (except for her safety school, of course). But for her, this was an entirely appropriate choice, and it worked out fine.</p>

<p>I love all the responses! You are all helping me tremendously, as well as any other person in the same boat as I am! If possible, keep the questions coming!</p>