Sending off your kids to college can be a proud moment for many parents. But before you make the big decision, consider whether it’s the right thing to do for them. There are many kids that greatly benefit from going to college, going on to lead successful careers, to socially blossom and to earn many new valuable experiences. However, there are many that do it as a rite of passage, forcing themselves to go or letting their parents force them into it. If your offspring are considering making the big step to higher educations, here are the factors you should consider.
Can you afford it?
College can be expensive for some parents, especially those opting for private or specialist colleges. There are loans and grants available, but these can have strict eligibility guidelines. Weigh up whether you can realistically afford to put your kids in college. Cost should never be the sole reason for not pursuing higher education – there is always financial aid and advice available (for example this site on preparing for college). But if other factors are also involved (e.g. unlikely they’ll make the grades, no passion) then you should definitely consider whether it’s worth pouring the money into this pursuit.
Are they equipped enough?
Sometimes if a kid isn’t making the grades, you’ve got to accept that they’re not ready. It can pay to take a year out and retake some exams. It’s possible to scrape by, but the workload is only to get harder. Similarly there are times when your kids might not have made the grades due to illness or other extenuating circumstances. Don’t rush your kids into college – encourage them to retake a year and get the results they deserve.
Is college necessary for their goals?
If your kids want to go into plumbing or work in a bar, college might not be necessary. As a parent it can be frustrating accepting these kind of goals, but you have to remember that education isn’t for everyone. They may have dreams of starting their own business that don’t require higher education (and besides 40% of grads from the top 100 colleges couldn’t find jobs in their chosen field). Goals related to the arts can be the hardest to accept. If your child wants to become a singer or actress, let them know that college might not be necessary but could be a useful safety net if things don’t work out.
Do they want it?
The biggest thing you need to consider is what your kids want. Although you should advise on what you think is best, you can’t hold them back or push them against their will. Even if your kid doesn’t really know what they want to do, but wants to go to college, there may be some benefit to what they learn and the friendships they make. Some kids need to go to college to realise it’s not for them, despite being so enthusiastic about it beforehand. Others will go straight into work only to return to education the next year. It’s never too late to make a change.