Dr Summer Watson, MHS, PhD, is the executive producer and co-host of “The Life, Love & Money Show with Summer & Jen,” host and producer of “The KORE Women podcast,” producer of documentary films, author of “F*ck Yeah! Get Real with Strong Language,” and producer and host of on-site and virtual seminars.
Jen Fontanilla, Certified Money Coach (CMC), is a speaker, six-time author, and has worked with multiple organizations, such as The Walt Disney Company, Sony Studios, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., Walmart, Costco, Target, Goodwill, and the U.S. Air Force.
Parents have dreams and expectations of their children, and this is to be expected. Parents want what they think is best for their children based on their experiences and values. They look at their kids and naturally impose their values on their children based on what they were told by their own parents growing up, what they learned over time, the experiences that were meaningful to them and what they traditionally have seen as the path to success.
As the child, who is soon to graduate from high school, the expectations for you would be to take that traditional path; however, you discover that you have your own plans or do you? Throughout your years of learning through your parents’ modeling and teachings, the ideas and theories you picked up throughout your education, and by the exposure to life’s unique experiences, you realize that you have thoughts of your own about your future and college may not necessarily be part of that plan. So, how are you going to tell your parents that you don’t want to go to college?
This is where things can get a little touchy and where you might have somewhat of an internal struggle, because you love your parents and don’t want to disappoint them. It is natural to feel this way, and this is probably not going to be the last time you confront similar feelings. This is the point where you need to plan! Yes, it is up to you to put a plan in place about how you are going to broach this subject with your parents and then plan out what you are going to say. You also want to approach your parents to schedule a meeting. Be specific about a date and time and begin your preparation.
The first step of this plan is to take a deep dive into what you want to do following graduation. Considering your parents have their own plans for you, it is important to come up with your own strategy. Yes, it is extremely important to come to the table with a plan. Parents are planners. They will want you to do what they think is best for you, and it may be difficult to change their minds if you do not know what you want to do or pursue.
What is it you want to do? Do you want to go to a trade school, do you want to travel, do you want to take a gap year to get a full-time job in an area of employment that interests you, or want to work with a mentor? It’s important to have an idea about what you want to do. Your parents will probably ask you if you have looked into trade schools, jobs, mentorships, and if you want to travel, they will want to know how you plan to afford this potential endeavor. If you are not planning to go to school, they will certainly want to know if you have a plan. Having a detailed plan about what you want to pursue following high school will let your parents know that you have taken the initiative to really explore other options for your future. If it is a full-time job you want following high school in a certain profession, it’s important to look at potential job options before graduation.
The second step is to talk to people that didn’t go to college and see how they navigated their journey and created success for themselves. Becoming familiar with different ways one can create their own path and still find personal fulfillment and success will help support your strategy and your decision not to pursue a college education. This is good preparation for that scheduled meeting. This will provide support for your decision and allow you to explain to your parents that you did your research about pursuing a different path and success is not always found by going to college.
The third step is understanding the cost of college. The investment a person makes to go to college is both emotional and monetary. This is an enormous cost and a tremendous investment. According to Edarabia, an online education site and guide, tuition fees per academic year are $5,000, compared to $20,000 to $30,000 in European and American countries. If college is not something you’re ready for or do not want to pursue, it is important to explain to your parents that taking on such an incredible debt is not something you want to be burdened with nor do you want them to assume such an incredible financial debt.
Finally, prepare for your meeting. Take some time to relax and focus. Be ready to go into the meeting with an open mind and heart knowing that your parents are always wanting the best for you. This is your opportunity to help them understand your rationale and see things from a different lens. Have an agenda ready, which should include your “why.” This is the reason(s) you do not want to pursue college as a next step. List your reasons on your plan, such as you want to get a full-time job, you would prefer to travel and explore the world, you would rather go into a trade, and that you are not ready to take on such a heavy financial burden. Additionally, let them know about all the research you have done about alternatives to college, the people you have spoken with who didn’t go to college and made their own success, and how you intend to pursue your passions and dreams. Furthermore, know this, if in the end your parents do not agree with your decision to not pursue college, it is your life and you have the choice to create your path on your terms. This may mean that your relationship with your parents may change, but this is why you always prepare for the next steps. It is natural to individuate from your parents, because this means that you are establishing your own identity and becoming aware of your own values. Wishing you a successful family meeting!