I have now been to about 10 North East Colleges with my daughters, and they are all beautiful. One has an all night library; one has special sleeping pods in the library. One has a campus escort service in case of bacchanalia; one has dorms just for vegans and one has a computer lab where they will fix your computer on the spot. My daughters could go to any of these schools for a mere 60K per year.
However, if you’re a student, like the ones I work with in my practice, you can have all the money in the world, or none of it, and still, your anxiety is through the roof and you don’t know who you are yet.
So save your money and discuss whether your child can handle the not knowing, the lack of structure, or the distance from home support. If the answer is yes, she needs more hand-holding, stop here.
A good therapist or support system can save you tens of thousands of dollars right now.
I know kids who bombed their finals, went off their meds or worse failed out.
I know kids who are the best and the brightest but had a panic attack when asked to make a decision.
I know kids who want an emotional support dog, or guinea pig.
I know kids who look fine but have a parent who is abusive.
Without real support these kids are lost.
So before you get an expensive SAT tutor, consider the following:
1. College is what you make it. What you put in, you will get out.
2. Most 17 year olds don’t know who they want to be when they grow up.
3. You may need grad school anyway.
So finding the right fit is a good thing. Finding friends and purpose, even better. But untreated anxiety and depression can get you and your child into a world of grief before you even get there.
The investment is now. Invest in support.
Support comes in many forms, from family, to medication, to therapy to walking over to the academic support center and familiarizing yourself with how to write a paper. All before you even start.
Visit as many schools as you can, but don’t forget that young adults are entering a world that is not as safe as when we were kids, with economic uncertainty, and a dazzling array of drugs and parties to distract from actual problems.
Please do this now, not when it’s too late. As Meg Jay has said, your twenties are no joke. It sets you up for the rest of your life. So don’t squander it on a college that does your laundry. Pay attention to the bottom line issues. You can thank me later.