Been there, done that, survived and, yes, some of them even bought the college's T-shirt.
That's how it went for the parents we talked to about their role in helping their children tackle one of life's biggest choices: where to attend college. Since all of them had children who were still freshmen when we talked, the college search experience was still quite fresh in their minds.
How did you find a balance between wanting to help your child with their college choice, and letting him or her take responsibility for the decision as well?
Dale: By being a sounding board, knowing that emotionally Nathan was wrestling with a lot. We didn't leave him alone, but encouraged him to talk to us and keep reading college materials. Our whole concept of raising kids was to give them more and more responsibility as they go. By the time he got to this point, he was certainly capable of making the decision. He was pretty sensitive, too. Without us pushing, he was sensitive to what the college cost.
Beth: We encouraged Amber to look for a good Bible college, but we weren't going to force her to go to any particular place.
Dick: We just did a lot of talking with Tiffany, back-and-forth dialogue. We helped her a lot with the financial process by filling out forms, but she initiated the trip to the campus and flew alone for the campus visit. I think it was just a blend of us working together. We were kind of like the chauffeur: We'll drive her to the door, and she will get out and walk inside. We also helped her with the values clarification process. Our daughter is a college athlete, but we were looking for a school that wanted a scholar athlete, not an athlete who was into scholarships. We were also looking for a school that accentuates Christian living, and she was searching for a nursing program. Whitworth was all of these things in one place. It had everything we were looking for. We helped her see that once she had her values clarified, then she could choose a school that accentuates those values.
Joel: We tried to motivate Joshua and help him get serious about looking at schools, but where he went was his decision. The only qualifier was that it needed to fit within the financial framework of what we could do.
Was your child resistant to your guidance and suggestions, or did you feel like he or she leaned on you too much?
Dick: There were times when we felt Tiffany was leaning on us too much. We just continued to tell her that we would help her, but this was her journey. While she would get lazy at a couple of points, we also understood she was under a lot of tension. As a high school senior, there was a lot going on in the last few months.
Dale: He wasn't really resistant at all to our guidance because we didn't present it in a pushy way. He wanted to be independent, so he knew he should do some things like making calls. He didn't want to do it, but he knew he didn't want his mother doing it, so he pushed himself.
Terrie: I don't feel like we faced either one of those problems. Jeremy was very open, a very easy kid to deal with. We were really impressed with the way he handled it.
Was it difficult to get your child motivated at times? If so, how did you do it?
Dale: When it came to applying for scholarships, I don't think he had the same concept of money as we did. He was willing to say, "I'll just borrow and pay it back." But it's worth it to spend some time to get some scholarship aid. So we said, "OK, Nate, you just worked five hours at the shoe store for seven bucks an hour. You could write this essay in one hour and possibly get 250 bucks. It's like getting paid 250 bucks an hour if you just write this." And he started catching on.