“Bringing up college just leads to a fight.” So said a well-meaning mom from Essex, CT. She relayed the all too common battles with her teen son when she would ask about anything related to the future. When I recently gave a presentation in our office in Madison, CT, I encountered similar remarks from parents. Students from leafy places like the affluent Connecticut suburbs are supposedly filled with helicopter parents.
From what I have seen, parents in our Shoreline, CT community spend an inordinate amount of time suffering over (and helicoptering over!) areas that seem to matter on a day to day level but some of which have minimal impact on the future. And, conversely, minimal attention on areas that do not appear to matter on a day to day level but which matter enormously for the future.
The energy that parent suffer over playing time and/or how much energy they put into travel sports as well as jockeying for parts in the school play/musical will likely be viewed curiously by the next generation as it realizes that this energy could have been put to better use related to areas that matter… like where their children should go to college.
Why does college matter so much?
1.) It is the turning point in the lives of most young people. This is our way – 1st world/US/affluent Connecticut suburban – of transitioning to adulthood.
2) The child is moving to a new world
Those two factors alone should be significant enough that parents spend hundreds of hours discussing/reviewing options.
But the practical implications are equally important:
1.) For most, this will be single largest investment – outside of a home. To not optimize a huge sum of money is simply irresponsible.
2.) For many, college will have a significant impact on career.
We can help.