College Visits: Be There to Show You Care
"Dad, I really like (insert expensive college name here)!"
"I bet you do. Did you see the tuition cost?"
"Come on, Dad. After loans and stuff it’s not that bad."
"So… can we visit?"
Oh, the joys of college visits. Parents drive for hours while their teenager snores in the backseat until they reach the campus. Then they attend an informational meeting led by a peppy college student who is employed by the admissions office, and this person cleverly highlights the college’s bright spots and manages to answer any question thrown his or her way, even if the answer has little to do with what was asked. Parents listen intently, especially when tuition is mentioned, and the potential students yawn and glance at cell phones. After a half hour or so, everyone is whisked away to tour the campus, which, they are assured, is the most picturesque, the most accessible, the safest, the greenest, etc. Tour guides point to buildings and give them apparently meaningful names and present a recently cleaned dorm room to the group’s inspection. The tour wraps up, parents ask questions, and teens drag their parents to the bookstore for a T-shirt. On the car ride home, parents discuss the campus, the tuition, and the scholarship opportunities and turn to their teen sitting quietly in the back to ask, "So what do you think?" The teen shrugs and replies, "It was alright."
Teens’ usual indifference and the long driving hours may dissuade busy dads from taking the time to accompany a son or daughter on a college visit, but being there means more than providing transportation. Despite how teens might react, college is a major deal and a huge step to them. Teens want their parents’ support and presence while finding the perfect fit among the overwhelming number of colleges; they want to hear their dads’ advice and past experiences. Most importantly, they simply desire that assurance that their dads will be there for them throughout the college process and into the intimidating future.
Yes, dads, you might at glance at your watches more than once during a college visit, and you might want to shake some kind of meaningful response out of your teen, but remember that your presence or your absence is directly tied to how much you care in your teen’s eyes. The next time your son or daughter approaches you with a college brochure and a hopeful look, make the commitment to be there- for the college visit and for your child’s future.
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