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How Adult Peer Pressure Makes Me Doubt My Teenage Daughter’s College Choice

It seems as if everyone has an opinion about where my daughter should go to college. And I have to figure out how to deal with adult peer pressure telling me what she should do.

I’ve got one camp of friends telling me that it’s a crime for me to let Emily settle for a safety school. They think I should push her to study for the SAT’s – enroll in a review class, get tutored and take many practice tests. One of those “push” friends suggested I bribe my teenage daughter.

Their advice continues: “She’s too immature to make the right decisions about college. She’s is making the worst mistake of her life. Instead of relaxing and traveling this summer, she should be studying every free second. She has the power to pull up her scores and she could get into her reach school if her SAT’s were higher.”

Then there is the other group. They tell me to leave her alone and let her live her own life. “Don’t live your life through your daughter. Maybe she wants to go to her safety school. Either way, it’s up to her.”

Adult Peer Pressure In Choosing A College

I’m torn because they’re both right.

She could improve her scores and potentially have more competitive college options. But why should I pressure her to improve her scores when a higher score will not guarantee an acceptance to her reach school? And — her reach school is further away and costs three times as much money. And — her safety school is a very good school that she loves.

Will we regret it if she doesn’t get into the reach school? Will she blame me? On the other hand, will I kick myself for ruining her summer and increasing our tuition burden? And what if she works really hard and in the end doesn’t get in? Will I regret letting adult peer pressure complicate what might have been an easy decision?

No Easy Answer

There is no easy answer.

My sister suggests a middle of the road approach and my parents tell me to leave my teenage daughter alone. “She has a good head on her shoulders and she’s always made good decisions. You can’t make her do anything, anyway, so just stop worrying about it,” they told me today.

My son reminded me that I’ve already tried nagging her about getting tutored and doing practice tests. “So now just let her be in the driver’s seat.”

Why must everyone have an opinion on the future of my teenage daughter? And why should I let adult peer pressure affect my daughter’s college decision?

It was different with my first kid, Evan. He knew where he wanted to go and never visited another school. He was very decisive and self-directed and I did not have any of these debates. And he loves his school (even though it was also his safety!).

Emily has seen how happy he is there. And she wants the same happiness. At the same school.

Maybe I’ll just show her this blog! And, I’ll keep you all posted.

Valerie Newman lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids. When Valerie started mixing up her kid’s college applications with her mother’s nursing home applications, she knew she was part of the sandwich generation.

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