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How to Convince or Encourage Your Teen to Go to College

Updated on October 6, 2010

How to Encourage Kids to Go To College

The reality of today's world is that it is a whole lot easier to get a job that can support you if you have a college degree than if you don't. No, a college degree isn't a necessity to getting a good job but it's something that really helps along the way. As a parent, you know this and it makes you feel like you have to do everything in your power to make sure that your child goes to college. When your teen starts talking about the possibility of postponing or not attending college, you may start to feel a sense of panic that he or she isn't going to do anything with their lives. The key to successfully encouraging your children to attend college is to set aside the fears that you have and work with your child on his or her terms.

One of the major things that parents do wrong in trying to convince their kids to go to college is that they take the choice away from them. When you tell your kids that they "have to" do anything, they rebel by proving that they most certainly don't have to do anything. This includes the situation of telling them that they have to go to college if they want to get a good job. In order to counteract this, you should be open and willing to giving your child as many possibilities and options to choose from as you can. This will make it easier for your child to choose a college path.

For example, perhaps you want your child to go to a specific school or at least to a four year university. If that's the only option that you provide in discussions about college, your child may resist the idea of going to college altogether. Instead, you should realistically present the many different options that are available to your child including community colleges, vocational colleges, online colleges and so on. No, these may not be the idea choices that you would select for your teen but getting started on the path towards college does need to start somewhere. By opening up the college options, you give your teen more to think about and allow him or her to consider college more carefully.

Discuss the options that come after high school when college isn't the choice. You need to make some decisions as a parent about what you're going to do if your child isn't going to attend college. Are you going to continue to let him live in your house without a job? Are you going to kick her out on graduation day? Are you going to require that he start paying rent for his bedroom? Make these decisions (with your spouse if you have one) before you have the actual conversation. Then sit down and tell your child what the options are. He or she doesn't have to choose to go to college but it's a lot easier to pick college over working at the hot dog stand if you don't have a roof over your head that you can count on.

While discussing all of these things about college, the most important thing is that you really listen to what your child is saying. Entering the college years is something that's really difficult for kids. They are trying to identify who they are and what they want out of their lives. The more that you try to impress a certain way of life upon them, the more they are going to fight against that life as a way to help identify who they are. By really listening to what's going on with your child, you can help guide the choices that he or she is making. It is this kind of support that is going to help your child make the choices that will her move her life in the right direction, whether that is going to college or forging a career without that college education.

Ultimately, you need to come to peace with the fact that a decision to go to college isn't your decision to make. You have to trust that you have instilled a sense of motivation and drive and an awareness of the importance of education into your child over all of the years that have come before now. And you have to realize that if your child decides not to go to college today, that doesn't mean that he or she won't change her mind a year or five years or ten years down the line. At the same time, you don't have to financially support your child's decision not to attend college if it's not something that settles well with you.


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  • BecauseIloveyou profile image


    8 years ago from PA USA

    We home schooled our children for 9 years.They had free college: One made an invention for Coleman campers and the other hat a 3.9 GPA. After 3 month in College they dropped out to my dismay. Reason: the double standards as business in the administration. The incompetent professors. The unprofessional ways both colleges were run. I was pretty upset at first, but now 8 years later I as SOOO glad, they didn't buy into to system and evaluated their life at a young age for the better. My daughter is a stay home Mom with a photography business at her leisure and my Son has a conglomerate of very good business, where he makes enough money for his family and invests into his community, helping kids off their butt, gives them work and teaches them the ropes. They have their houses almost paid for, will be done by the time they hit 30 years of age. the American dream is still alive, if we put the God of the Bible first and have our priorities in place. On the other hand their contemporaries have huge college bills, can't get a job in their field and compromise their skills. Most of my children's friend who went to college don't even work in their field of study! So don't get sold a bill of goods. College is the last great business in the USA.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    huhu hi!!!!!!!!1

  • Caleb Anderson profile image

    Caleb Anderson 

    11 years ago

    I agree that you should inform your child of both the positives as well as the large financial burden. Cool hub.

  • Lissie profile image

    Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

    12 years ago from New Zealand

    I'm not sure I agree with your idea that a college education will necessarily be a financial advantage. In Australia school leavers can be earning a better than average salary long before their colleagues have graduated uni (college). The best option is qutie possible a trade qualification- you don't have to pay big fees for tuition, you get employment from the start and a decent tradesman in the mining industry would earn more than yoru average professional

  • RainbowRecognizer profile image


    12 years ago from Midwest

    This is really helpful, even for a mother who did some college and has returned for more :o)


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