What to do when your student isn’t eager to think about college

By Brenda Leggiadro, Counseling Coordinator, Lincoln Public Schools

You’ve been eagerly awaiting this moment in your child’s lifetime, or perhaps not, when your fear is confirmed… Your son or daughter isn’t really showing much interest in talking about or preparing for college.

They want to go to college, it seems, and they understand that it is important. But actually doing the work to get ready to make a decision? Not so much. Here are some strategies to help you along the way:

First, remember that a begrudgingly-accepted campus visit with your student is better than no campus visit at all. Give them a heads up, schedule the visits, get them to the campus, and let the tour guide or admissions counselor take over.

Sign them up for another ACT test, if necessary, and enroll them and make sure they get to any possible prep courses, if you feel that would be beneficial. Again, some knowledge gleaned from this process is better than none at all. 

At certain points before or during the student’s junior or senior year of high school, work with his or her counselor to enroll them in career-oriented courses, such as culinary, health sciences, computer-aided drafting, engineering, or one of the many other courses offered in Lincoln Public Schools. It just takes one moment, one project, one teacher, one field trip to light even the smallest spark.

Be sure that anytime your son or daughter wants to talk, even if just for a few seconds, about a possible college opportunity or career field, that you are willing to just listen. If you interrupt, you run the risk of adding negativity to a conversation that you had so desperately want to have. And remember that every crazy go-to-college-faraway-idea doesn’t have to be shot down immediately, if at all.

Don’t be afraid to gather information from colleges, either through brochures or handouts, through emails to specific colleges and departments, or even websites. Put them in a location where your son or daughter might look at them, even if you’re not around. Some students just want some time to look through materials but are actually afraid of this big, life-changing decision.

And above all else, to further expound on the previous point, your son or daughter may have some serious hesitation about leaving home, living in a strange place with the roommate they don’t know, afraid of failure academically at the college level, or some other concerns.

Also remember that these types of situations described above are actually quite common, and vary from family to family and even sibling to sibling. 

In the overwhelming majority of these cases, this process of hesitation or procrastination and deliberation is not necessarily an indicator of their ability to succeed academically in college.

Published: October 6, 2016, Updated: October 7, 2016