When is the right time to start talking to my 13 year old son about the importance of college? I did not attend and it’s one of the biggest regrets of my life. How do I guide him towards a higher education without being one of those parents that puts so much pressure on their kid that they end-up rejecting it all? I feel like a hypocrite telling him how important college is when he knows my husband and I did not attend, got married, and have a pretty terrific life without it.
While you can certainly enjoy a terrific life without a college education, your regret in not attending should play a role in your discussions with your son about the importance of higher education. As you have conversations with your son, causally begin to talk about college and tell him why you regret not attending, and graduating, from college.
Because your son is 13, you and your husband need to agree on a plan and begin immediately. A couple of preliminary considerations as you develop a plan: How effective is the education he is now receiving? How are his grades? Who does he hang around with and are they college bound? Are you living in a community where colleges and universities are part of the community? How would you rate his study habits? You may not be able to control the quality of these issues but understand their importance in facilitating the path to college. Check out how many high graduates from your community attend college. Meet with your son’s junior high and high school counselors and participate in every orientation and meeting available for families.
Another approach is to focus in on your son’s interests, be it ecology, firefighting, marine life, car racing, rock climbing, or music. Log onto college websites and bring essential information about his interests and those colleges into his everyday life. The next step is to begin visiting colleges that may offer majors related to his interests. The spring break during his high school freshman year is a good time to begin. Pick one or two colleges and check out the options to be sure that currently enrolled college students are leading the orientation tours. You want the visits to colleges and universities to be exciting and fun.