The Family Project: College not for all
Q. My daughter has been accepted at a college, and I am happy for her, but I am not sure she is ready or mature enough to go. I’m also considering the loans that she is going to have to incur to attend. What if she doesn’t do well, or drops out? Is college for everyone?
“I’m not sure parents ever feel their child is mature enough to leave home,” panelist Chad Stefanyak said.
“What this parent has to do,” he continued, “is to dig deeper to find out what the daughter is planning to do with her life. College isn’t for everyone, but if the daughter has clear aspirations that require a degree, then absolutely, college is for her.”
The parents can judge the daughter’s maturity for college by evaluating the responsibility she shows in other areas, according to panelist Pam Wallace, who said, “If she is not responsible enough, she may not be ready for college, or she might want to begin her studies at a community college.”
Panelists Michael Ramsey and Joanne Raftas noted that the daughter is mature enough to get accepted at a college, which in itself is an accomplishment.
Raftas said that maturity is a “hard quality to measure. There really is no way to know how any teen will handle life after high school, and each college has different ways to support teens in their freshman year.”
“Colleges are full of kids making bad choices,” Stefanyak said. “The daughter likely will make a couple of bad decisions along the way, but that is part of the growing process.”
Ramsey and several other panelists recommended that the parents have a conversation with their daughter about their concerns. “I wonder if the anxiety the parents are feeling is shared by the daughter?” he asked, adding, “Either the daughter will say she shares the concerns and wants to talk about them or she will want to provide evidence that her parents do not have to worry.”
“The reason the daughter wants to go to college and the income potential after the daughter graduates should both be part of the conversation,” Stefanyak said. Alternatives, such as technical school, short-term training programs or community college should be discussed, he said.
Raftas urged the parents to be cautious in their approach, however, because the daughter most likely has her own fears and concerns, and she might not be able to deal with her own concerns and those of her parents.
The panelists suggested consulting the High Priority Occupations web site:
The website identifies where jobs are in the state and aligns workforce training and education investments with occupations that are in demand by employers.
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Michael Ramsey, MS, LPC, Program Supervisor, Valley Youth House; Jackie Gisonti, Housing Supervisor, Valley Youth House; Joanne Raftas, parenting consultant. Project Child, and Chad Stefanyak, School Counselor.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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