Help! My Child Has No Plan For College

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  Help! My Child Has No Plan For College

Find out what to do when your teen isn’t showing interest in college planning.


Your teen is in the home stretch at high school and while most of his friends are busy planning for college, he hasn’t sent in one college application.

If your child is a junior in high school, there is still time for him to get bit by the college-planning bug. By the time senior year rolls around, he will begin to realize that high school will not last forever. Starting to plan for college during senior year is stressful, but not impossible.

The Case For College Planning

As a parent, you are probably getting a little anxious. Most jobs today require some sort of higher education, and the government predicts that in the next decade 18.7 of the 18.9 million new jobs will be in service industries.

While obtaining a postsecondary education is important, you have to make sure your child is ready to make the leap. The truth is only two out of five students who attend a four-year college earn a degree in five years. For two-year colleges, the three-year graduation rate is a staggering 27.5%.

How To Approach The Topic

College is an investment, and the price continues to rise as family incomes remain stagnant or decline. Considering the abysmal graduation rates and cost of tuition, it might be a good thing for your child to wait until he is ready before you find yourself $20,000 (or more) in the hole.

Let go of your own expectations for your child. Talk to him and figure out why he hasn’t began to plan for college. Is it lack of interest, or is he just not ready? Although your child might not have college plans, he might have thought of college alternatives.

Post-High School Options

After you determine your child’s reasons for delaying a four-year college, it’s time to discuss his options. Has he considered attending a community or technical college to get an associate’s degree or certificate? If grades are an issue, make sure she is aware that most two-year colleges have an open enrollment policy, which means that applicants only need a high school diploma to apply.

Your child might need a break from school entirely. Taking a year off isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it’s important to know that your child needs to be productive during his time off. There are many options for students who need to take a gap year, including getting a job, volunteer work, traveling or a combination.

While you may want your child to head directly to college, late preparation might mean now is not the time. Whatever your child chooses, it is important that you remain supportive of his or her decision.

My Child Has No Plan For College: Tips and Tactics

  • Don't rush. Remember that college is usually a big investment, which makes the decision difficult for both student and parent. A late, good decision is always better than an early, bad one.
  • Remain positive. A guilt-trip probably isn't going to do anyone any good and we always want to keep the idea of college a positive one.
  • Try to stay supportive. In some situations it will be difficult to support your child's decisions, but he will always need support from family to succeed. If you think he's making a bad decision, set up a meeting with a counselor, teacher, or outside family member who might be able to give him a new perspective on the big decision.

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