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College Talk Blog

Why is this so hard?

Sighs, eye-rolls and silence are behaviors that sometimes greet parents trying to support teens in the college search process. Parents with great intentions are baffled that teens sometimes take offense at their attempts to help. The reason for the offense is that teens sometimes see help as an intrusion into a decision they feel they should make on their own. 

The worst intro sentence a parent can make in one of these exchanges starts with "when I went to school...". Teens know that what their parents experienced is totally foreign to what they experience now. The process is not the same. The competition faced by parents pales to what teens face now and the job market they will enter at graduation is also very different.

There is a great benefit to having an informed family member (other than the parents) or a professional college advisor assist the student. An more objective supporter faces less resistance from the student. Students do need help with college preparations and decisions but the help needs to be collegial. The reason students and parents often experience conflicts in the college process is that the college process occurs at the same time students are beginning to become more independent.

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