Tribune Print Share Text

When grandchildren say no to college

Created date

August 24th, 2010

So you pop the question to your grandchild, a senior in high school, Which colleges are you applying to? and the answer is, I m not planning on going to college. How should you respond? First, take a deep breath. Sure, your instinct is to push back, but while some teens are clueless, others possess the maturity to lay out a career path that s right for them, even if it doesn t include college. So rather than say how disappointed you are, ask questions. Find out whether this decision is based on solid ground or not. Then go off and think about what you heard. Talk to your children to see how they feel. If they re in agreement that college isn t right for this grandchild, and you disagree, you ll have to convince them first, as they have more influence than you do. But let s say that you re 100% sure that this grandchild is making the wrong decision, and his or her parents agree but aren t getting anywhere. What can you do?

Dig deeper

The word college has a lot of meanings. If a teen is afraid of living away from home, you could do some research and find nearby colleges that might allow him or her to commute. (If you can afford it, you could even offer a used car to help with the transportation issue.) Community colleges require only a two-year commitment. That might be an acceptable compromise, and perhaps lead the grandchild to switching to a four-year program later on. Some young people are so eager to get out from under their parents wing that four more years of dependency is more than they can stand. Perhaps you can help the two generations agree to a new set of household rules that won t be so suffocating. Each case is going to be different, but I bet you can come up with some good ideas if you don t react immediately but give yourself time to ponder the question. Time may appear to be going faster to those of us old enough to be grandparents, but that means exercising patience is more important than ever.