Parents of Teenagers: Cut the Apron Strings

Here’s my advice for the day:  Cut the apron strings.

I have run into so many parents with talented teenagers who want their kids to stay close to home when they start college. By insisting on this, they severely limit their teenagers’ college choices.

I ran into one of these mom’s today at the dentist office when I was getting a crown. My dental hygienist was lamenting that her son is struggling to get through San Diego State because he can’t get the classes he needs at this overcrowded, underfunded school.

Then Maria tells me that she wants her 11th-grade daughter to attend a university close to home too. When I ask about her daughter, I find out she is at the top of her class at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego, which is the private girls’ school that my daughter attended. Let me tell you that OLP is an academic meat grinder that produces graduates who are incredibly well prepared for college. The mother of a recent OLP valedictorian, for instance, told me once that her daughter has more free time at Yale than she ever did at OLP.

Maria’s accomplished daughter is Hispanic, is keen on majoring in a science and she also needs a lot of financial aid. I was so excited pondering this brilliant teenager’s possibilities that I almost bit my dentist’s finger. I start thinking of colleges like Carleton College, Grinnell College, Kenyon College, Swarthmore College and Smith College.

With cotton in my mouth, I’m trying to explain the beauty of liberal arts colleges to Maria at the same time that I’m trying to convey to her how her daughter could get a phenomenal education at a cost that would probably be comparable to San Diego State. That is, if she will consider cutting the apron strings.

I told Maria to read my book and I gave her my phone number and email address. When I go in for my next teeth cleaning, I’m going to check on how tight her apron strings are.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also blogs about college for CBSMoneyWatch.

Further Reading:

College Admissions:  Who Gets an Affirmative Action Bump

The Beauty of Liberal Arts Colleges

Finding a Great College in Your Region

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