4 Ways to Involve Your Parents During Your College Search… Without Them Driving You Insane

Parents can sometimes be overwhelming and have strong opinions about what you should and shouldn't do. How do you involve your parents in your college search, without them making all the decisions for you? Here are 5 ways to get them on your side!

Updated 27 Apr 2022

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"Your grades are so good — you should study Medicine or it will be so wasted!"

"Why do you want to study Psychology? You won’t be able to get a job when you graduate."

"Why aren’t you studying Law like your brother / sister / neighbour’s daughter?"

We’ve all heard these before at one point or another.

While we have a lot of love and respect for our parents, they can sometimes be overwhelming with strong opinions. There’s even a term for it — helicopter parent, where an overprotective parent constantly hovers over their child like a helicopter.

Or perhaps you’re at the other end of the spectrum, where your parents are completely hands-off and give you all the space in the world to make your own decisions. This can be stressful too, since you may not have the knowledge or experience to make sound decisions.

But how do you involve your parents enough, without them making all the decisions for you?

#1. Make college a constant conversation topic


All their lives, your parents had always envisioned that you’ll be a doctor. Not just any doctor, but a cardiologist, or perhaps a neurosurgeon. Out of the blue, you tell them that you plan to do Interior Design instead, and you have zero interest in pursuing the Science field.

Cue the anger, tense conversations and drama.

The truth is, if this is the first time your parents are hearing it from you, it will probably come as a a HUGE shock to them. It’s like they’ve built this beautiful castle in their minds and you’ve taken a massive bulldozer and smashed it into smithereens.

So don’t keep them in the dark.

Whether it’s sending them interesting articles about college or chatting with them when they’re dropping you off at school or during dinner, always tell your parents what’s going on in your college research.

After all, it’s not like your parents intentionally want to ruin your future. They simply want to be assured that you’re actively doing the research and making the best possible choice, and not blindly going along with whatever your friends are doing.

#2. Engage them for help and support


Choosing one out of the hundreds of public and private institutions in Malaysia can be an intimidating task.

But this is precisely why you should ask for help from your parents!

Decision-making is probably an area that you lack experience in at such an early stage of your life, so get support from your parents! They will be able to help sift through all the information and help you compare options. They may also provide you with valuable insights and ask questions that you may not have otherwise thought of.

Remember that it’s also helpful if you ask for help in specific areas, like keeping track of deadlines and working with you on the affordability and financial aspects of college.

#3. But avoid letting them take charge


While it’s great that you involve your parents by getting them to help you out with planning and reviewing, it’s critical that you avoid getting them to do everything for you.

Your parents should not be writing out your scholarship essays or personal statements. Neither should they be asking their CEO friend to write you a referral / recommendation letter. If you’re applying for scholarships and haven’t heard back from the scholarship sponsor, don’t get your parents to call and check on the status of your application on your behalf.

Gently thank them, but say no, as it is absolutely crucial that you start doing things independently so that you’re able to tackle things on your own in future.

But don’t feel that you absolutely have to do it all on your own — ask for support where necessary, as their wealth of experience can benefit you greatly!

#4. Get them to come along for college Open Days


Want to get a feel of college life and the campus environment?

Open Days are a great way for you to take a peak into how college is like, and it’s always good to bring your parents along so that you have extra pairs of eyes in case you miss out on anything.

Go for a campus tour, visit the accommodation and hostels, and speak to counsellors, lecturers and current students. These will give you useful insights as to whether the college is the right fit for you, and having your parents around will give you a different perspective too.

The most important thing to remember is that you should do most of the talking and ask most of the questions. If your parents are the "enthusiastic kind", talk to them beforehand and discuss with them what sort of things they want to know, so that you can be the one asking the questions.

Can’t get through to your parents? Or perhaps both you and your parents would like to get some advice from an expert?

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    Loh Sue May

    Loh Sue May

    Editor and writer. When I'm not busy putting words onto pages, I'm messing with spreadsheets and playing air guitar.