Wrong Choice, Wrong Reason


wrongchoiceblogpost

Putting decision-making power in the hands of an 18-year-old feels counterintuitive. Perhaps that’s because it is. Or, perhaps, it’s just my kid that this applies to. Somehow, though, I don’t think so.

At present we are engaged in whittling down her college choices. Unfortunately, it comes down to money. More specifically it’s about where she’ll get the most education for the least amount of money.

As it happens, as it always seems to happen, the college that she prefers would leave her in about $70,000 worth of debt at the end of four years. The college that we would rather she attend will leave her with ZERO debt at the end of four years. My husband and I think this is a no-brainer.

There are, of course, other variables to consider. The zero debt college has smaller class sizes — important in any area, but, we think, even more so for anyone seeking a science-related degree. Their facilities are newer. By all accounts their instructors are first-rate, top notch, if you will. Students also seem to enjoy a higher rate of success in its nursing program, if graduation rates and national board scores are any indication of this, which, we think, they are.

So, what’s the problem, you ask? As I see it, it’s two-fold.

First and foremost, this school is only 15 miles from our home. In a nod to compromise, we have not only agreed to allow her to live on campus, but to fund it, as well. If she lived home it would literally cost us nothing to send her there, but we want her to have, as much as possible, the “college experience”. We want her to be happy. Whatever that is.

The second reason that she is resisting this school? I graduated from there. This fact is not exactly a selling point. As you all well know, I’m a complete and utter failure. I’m just a lowly waitress.

We have sat her down, explained to her why we think the in-State college is the better choice, for reasons both financial and educational. We have explained that for $70,000 she can buy herself a Tesla (her dream car) or she can owe that same money to the leeches who provide student loans — the bankers, the government. Again, it seems like a no-brainer to her father and I.

Still, she views this institute of higher learning with disdain. After all, if I was awarded a degree from there, it can’t possibly be that good. (It is, by the way, THAT good.)

Alternately I feel like throttling her and like crying. Luckily, I’m a fully-formed person who understands that neither of these activities will do either of us any good.

What scares me most is that ultimately it is her decision. While her attitude toward me is both hurtful and disappointing, what’s worse is knowing that she may make the wrong choice and that she will do so for all the wrong reasons.



photo credit: thumbs down

36 thoughts on “Wrong Choice, Wrong Reason

  1. What a tough situation. I feel for you and your daughter. My son is a junior and I have a feeling we’re going to be having this kind of discussion next year. I would hate for him to graduate college with a load of debt when our state schools are good.

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    • javaj240 says:

      It does seem rather silly, doesn’t it?

      Worse, though, is that it limits their choices AFTER college. In the field that my daughter seems to have chosen (you never know what can happen, LOL!), she will absolutely have to go beyond the Bachelor’s degree. How do these kids think they are paying for Master’s degrees (and beyond), plus housing, plus food, plus car-related expenses, with 70K in debt hanging over their heads?

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  2. Greg says:

    That’s a shitty situation to be in. The thing is though, you, your husband and most people you’re discussing this with have the benefit of a) maturity and b) hindsight. From the way you put it your daughter doesn’t have either of these things, so (if you can) it might help to try and view the situation from her shoes.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Believe me, we are trying. Our advice comes, as you put it, from maturity. It also comes from some level of experience. Mostly, though, it comes from the heart. If I had the benefit of hindsight, I would truly know how to advise her. Sadly, I do not.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it 🙂

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  3. peachyteachy says:

    Oh boy. I feel your pain. My kid has his debt. When he came home after graduating I struggled with pressuring him to get a job, etc. I decided on hands off, let go and let God, and tell him what I think when asked. Which he doesn’t. He found it on his own and is making his way. I don’t know whether his financial life would be better if I had pushed for in-state school. I do see that he landed where he belonged. And I believe that every place we land is, somehow, where we belong. Either way can be okay. I don’t know if that makes sense.

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    • javaj240 says:

      You always make sense to me — separated at birth as we were, LOL!

      I love that you had your misgivings, but that you ultimately allowed him to make his own choices — I’m happy to hear that it worked out for your son. It gives me hope!

      At the end of the day I suppose we will have to do the same. What else can we do? Well, worry. We could worry. I suppose we’ll do a fair amount of both trusting and worrying.

      For the record, I feel a little better after listening to you. I really do. Thank you 🙂

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  4. Anonymous says:

    My cousin is going to that school (the one you want her to go to) for nursing as well. How cool would that be in they were in the same program!

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  5. A bit hard on yourself – aren’t you?
    Anyway, it’s hard to blame her for wanting to go off and forge her way. Yet, 70,000 in debt sounds daunting to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ouch. I really feel for you, Jackie. Unfortunately, this sounds like one of those situations where you might have to bite your tongue, sit on your hands, and let her make the decision…as long as she understands that she’ll be the one paying the consequences later. Who knows? That knowledge might be enough to sway her?

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    • I have found that forcing kids to go to a college they do not like or want to attend usually ends badly….for everyone.

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      • javaj240 says:

        She doesn’t dislike it. She even agrees that it’s the better program. She has just decided that she’s “better” than it — why? I don’t know — and, as a result, we find ourselves in this predicament.

        We’ll see how it all plays out. 🙂

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    • javaj240 says:

      We shall see. All we can do is guide her — the rest is ultimately up to her. It just kills me to see her get herself in that kind of debt. She already knows that in order to succeed in her chosen field that grad school will be in her future. What will that cost? It’s just crazy.

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    • javaj240 says:

      You are right. Still, don’t we all want to “save” our children from making giant mistakes? I suppose we can’t, though. It will, ultimately, be what it is, I suppose. Perhaps that’s what it’s supposed to be. I don’t know. I do know it’s difficult, though. That’s for sure!

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  7. I am a professional college consultant in private practice. You are in a dilemna, that is for sure. Students just do not want to go to college a few yards from home. For many students, distance, exploring a new place, is part of the college experience. I generally tell parents that if they really cannot afford the other school, the choice has to be. But, if the student does not want to attend that school, a transfer or drop out is in the future, and that puts off graduation. Has she gone to accepted student days at both schools? That is always an important factor. In the end, I have found it best, if at all possible, to honor the student’s choice. It isn’t always possible, and of course in the end, it has to be a family decision.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thank you for your insightful comment. She has not attended either school’s accepted student days — she was not interested, which, to me, speaks volumes about her maturity level.

      It’s very tough to transfer from one nursing school to another, almost impossible to do so from state to state.

      It isn’t like we won’t allow her to go to the out of state school, it’s just that it kills me — kills me — to see her rack up that kind of debt for no good reason. I’ve seen (and so has she) the results of this type of thinking… I have two nieces and countless friend’s children who are in upwards of $100,000 worth of debt for a Bachelor’s degree. I think that is beyond ridiculous and should be avoided at all costs.

      They wind up taking jobs they hate, many out of their fields of study, just to make the payments. That’s no way to live.

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      • How many colleges did she apply to? And that is a lot of debt for a bachelor’s degree. Have you tried to talk to financial aid or admissions about grant money or a scholarship?

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        • javaj240 says:

          She applied to 6 colleges and got into the nursing programs at all but one of them. Frankly, that was her first choice AND even more expensive than the one she is currently leaning toward, so I suppose that was a blessing in disguise.

          We are in the midst of filling out scholarship after scholarship — she may receive some of these awards — all but one are one-time only affairs. Of course I know that once you are enrolled AND if your grades are stellar there are plenty more options as you move through the system.

          Once we get the final financial aid numbers — hopefully by week’s end, I plan on getting on the phone and the e-mail to anyone who will listen and try to see if I can squeeze some more $$$ out of them. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

          She’s an excellent student — decent SAT scores, but, more importantly, she is #8 in a class of 418 students and has taken ALL AP classes, in which she attained a 3.75 GPA (it’s higher weighted, but I’m somewhat mathematically-challenged, LOL). She has held several leadership positions, as well (student council, ambassador, and Captain of a sports team). She really is “the whole package”. Perhaps this will help. Even if it doesn’t, it’s worth a shot, right?

          Thanks so much for your advice and your input. It is much appreciated! 🙂

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  8. A lot of this really depends on what she wants to do and how mature she is. There are times when the school really does make a difference–it weighs into your graduate school options in a big way. If she has no real career goals at this point then it’s a good place for her to start and if she firms up her plans she can always transfer in her junior year, which is an option lots of students take to save money on first few years. Her attitude toward you? Shame on her.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Unfortunately, nursing school is a 4-year commitment… you really have to finish where you start. Even if she could transfer, doing so from one state to another is problematic. So, while plenty of kids have the option that you speak of, she, more than likely, will not.

      I’m chalking up her attitude to disappointment, stress, and immaturity. Hopefully, some day she will look back and realize that I’m not so bad after all. LOL! 🙂

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  9. As long as she is paying for it, let her make the decision. You might be shocked that it turns out fine for her in the end. As long as she is not leeching off you in her quest to spend 70K then sometimes you have to let the birdies fly…

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    • javaj240 says:

      If she owes $70K at the end of her college career, she will be right back living here. No doubt about that! How would she ever be able to afford otherwise? I can’t see it.

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  10. My son (only 16 right now) wants to go to screenwriting school in LA. ACK! I’m not squashing the idea now because he might change his mind by the time he graduates. .But I’m gearing myself up for some clashes when he starts to launch (even if it’s just me eating the lining out of my stomach by keeping quiet).

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  11. That sounds like such a scary position! I hope I didn’t make my parents feel the same way when I chose colleges a couple years ago- they would’ve prefered me stay and go to the local college as it would’ve costed me no money. But I wanted to go to “have the college experience” a litle further at a school my closest friends were going to and that has a nutrition program.

    Fortunately I haven’t had to take out a loan and it’s still in state 🙂 I don’t regret the decision, but I recognize that I’d have about 40,00 more dollars in my bank account at the end of these 4 years if I had done what they recommended.

    Hope it all goes well with you! I’m sure she will be just fine whichever she chooses 🙂

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  12. Paula Cavalier says:

    for the first time I’m not laughing after reading one of your articles. I feel for you and would also like to ” throttle” your daughter and let her know how successful her mom actually is in life. By that I mean that you do what you love to do and make many people happy doing it. And you are really very talented.

    Liked by 1 person

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