No one knows more than a teenager, just ask them and they’ll tell you. Talk to a gifted teenager and you may even get additional attitude. What happens when the child-who-knows-everything wants to start college by choosing their own courses?
Reasons for letting college students choose their own courses:
The student is legally an adult by some definitions.
They are the ones who will have to do the work in the classes.
It is their career in the making, not the parents.
They are the ones who will have to live with their choices.
Reasons why you should have input on your child’s college schedule:
The student may be an adult, but college is a whole new animal. They may be too young or lack the wisdom in navigating their way through the college maze.
The student, in many cases, is not the one paying the bill. The parents may not want to pay for a class on underwater basket weaving.
The average college student changes their major several times before deciding on a career path, so without guidance from the parents they may waste a lot time.
Getting the basics out of the way first, while boring, at least does not waste time.
Liberal Arts schools are notorious for encouraging students to take a diversified schedule in order to explore many areas of study. Why should the college be overly concerned if it takes your child five years instead of the traditional four to finish their degree? What’s an additional $25,000 dollars between friends?
It is difficult for a parent who wants what is best for their child to pull back and let their college age student independently make decisions. To what degree you participate in your child’s college decisions depends on whether or not you are the one paying for the classes or more importantly, your particular parenting philosophy. Some parents believe when their child goes off to college their parenting job is essentially done and the child is now qualified to make their own choices.
Others believe they have an obligation to play the uncomfortable role of the active parent, despite the child’s natural tendency to rebel against parental participation in their life. Realistically, it is difficult enough for students to make choices in a supportive home environment with parents and trusted teachers. However, it is quite another matter to make important educational decisions in a new, stressful environment in which one is pulled in many directions and expected to make wise, intelligent decisions without the experience to do so.
What You Can Do:
Though a broad range of course work may have its benefits for some college students, other gifted students find their occupational passion early, so a more focused curriculum will make them a more competitive candidate when seeking graduate training. In that light, exposing your child to a wide variety of career choices during high school can help them narrow their college academic focus.
For example, this may take the form of encouraging your child to volunteer their services, take a part-time job during the school year and/or in the summer or talking with individuals who work in fields in which they have some interest. In addition, appointments with the high school guidance counselor may be wise as they are generally skilled in helping the student to develop a broad view of career choices in light of their own particular interests and abilities.
Activities which help your child to focus on their future before college will make it less likely you will have to play as strong a role when they actually reach campus.
Keeping the gifted student on track can be challenging because while they are learning and maturing by leaps and bounds, they are often the student who hops on the horse and rides off in five directions. As your child is exposed to new areas of study they may veer off in a various directions.
However, the gifted teenager has a lot to contribute to this world, and hopefully with some early parental planning and guidance, they will find their niche. One in which they feel passion and where they can use their potential to the fullest. Then mom and dad can relax, or so it is said.