If you’re reading this, you have a tough decision to make.
How are you going to tell your parents that college isn’t for you?
All your life, it’s been an unspoken rule that you were going to college. You were going to get a life-changing education that would make your parents proud.
But you’ve come to realize that this isn’t the best choice for you. And you know this to be true without a shadow of a doubt.
What you also know, however, is that your parents simply aren’t going to understand. Even worse, they’re going to feel angry and disappointed—and they’re certainly going to try to change your mind.
For these reasons, it can be tempting putting off telling them. The truth is, however, that they’re going to find out someday—so it’s best to tell them early.
But how should you go about dropping this bombshell news? You’re going to want to do so in a way that minimizes their negative reactions and allows them to fully understand why you’re making the choice you’re making.
We get it: that’s easier said than done. But are there some ways that you can go about telling your parents about your decision in a more effective manner?
Yes and no.
While there are ways that you can soften the blow, it’s important to realize that no one can predict how your parents are going to react.
For this reason, make sure that you’re in a good spot to tell them before you break the news.
You know your parents better than anyone else, so you might already have an idea of how they will respond.
Make sure that you’re not telling them at a time that you could be displaced in the event that they get angry. While this is unlikely, make sure that you’re leaving room for all possibilities.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at some methods that just might help your parents better understand you.
By following the five steps below, you can be on the right track to breaking this news to your parents the right way. Keep these tips in mind as you plan your next course of action.
Find the Right Time
It goes without saying that finding the right time to tell your parents is critical. Because of the delicate subject matter, be careful to bring it up at a time that’s beneficial to you.
This means, first and foremost, that you shouldn’t bring it up during an argument. If you’re considering not telling this information to your parents, it’s likely that you’re letting the desire to talk build up.
If this causes tension and your parents pick up on it, things can get ugly. Make sure that you don’t bring it up or use it as a barb to get back at your parents just because you’re angry.
And though you may be thinking that this is something that you’d never do, you may be surprised how many inhibitions are lowered because of anger.
Make sure that you keep a tight lid on your secret until everyone involved has a chance to cool down.
That being said, you don’t want to drop this information on your parents during a happy celebration either. By dropping news they’re not going to like while they’re happy, you may cause them to feel as if you purposefully ruined their moment.
Because of this, you’re going to strike a good balance between these two extremes. Make sure that your parents aren’t angry or celebrating before you tell them.
After all, there’s nothing like a birthday gift for dad quite like telling him you aren’t going to college. Right?
By approaching the matter delicately when emotions aren’t running high, you can help save yourself some trouble. Your parents are much more likely to respond to what you’re saying and not reply with the emotion of their own.
And when it comes to discussions like these, staying level-headed is of the utmost importance. You want your parents to be able to actually discuss the issue with you—not have them railroad you into changing your opinion.
Consider approaching the situation delicately. Let them know ahead of time that you have something to talk to them about. You may tell them in the morning, for instance, that you’d like to talk to them that afternoon after school.
This will give your parents time to prepare for what you have to say. In this way, they’re likely to better have their emotions in check so that you can have a reasonable conversation.
Because here’s the deal: if you’re not even going to be able to have a conversation, there’s no point in talking. Make sure to work to facilitate proper communication throughout the exchange.
In the end, this is the only way that you’re going to be able to allow your parents to understand your choice.
On that note, however, you should be prepared to get initial resistance. Don’t expect your parents to accept your decision overnight. Give them time to put the same level of thought into the situation as you have so that they can make their own conclusions.
Trying to rush the situation will likely only make it worse. Take things slow and steady for best results.
Show Them the Data
If you do want to convince them that you’re making the right choice, you’re going to need to show them the data.
For instance, you might want to show them this study from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows that high school graduates are much more likely to get a job than dropouts. This helps prove that you’re on solid footing even if you decide not to pursue higher education.
Or you might choose to show this one here that notes that almost 70% of students are graduating with an average student loan debt of $30,000.
Despite college graduates having on average around $17,000 a year more in income, you may be able to argue that the extra student loans that come from university help negate this difference.
Additionally, you might want to note that there are other effective alternatives for making money rather than going to a four-year college.
Learning a trade, for instance, often proves a more useful way to make money than some popular bachelor’s degrees.
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By planning out your case ahead of time, you can dramatically increase the likelihood that your parents will agree with you.
While there’s always a chance that you won’t meet that much resistance, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Have an airtight case that proves why college isn’t for you before attempting to convince anyone.
By doing so, you can reduce negative reactions and win the support of your family better than you thought possible.
Tell Them How You Feel
Sometimes, however, you may not really know what plan you can have. While it’s never a bad idea to come equipped with the data, don’t be afraid to tell your parents how you really feel.
Because here’s the thing: sometimes it’s not a matter of money or of practicality.
It’s simply that you know that going to college is not the right direction for you. You know that you wouldn’t be happy there and that advancing your life doesn’t require a college education.
And in this regard, there’s nothing better than an old-fashioned heart-to-heart. Make sure that you’re communicating your feelings in an open way without letting the conversation get negatively-emotionally charged.
This doesn’t mean that neither party can express frustration. It simply means that you shouldn’t expect a shouting match or misplaced anger to ensue.
It’s important to note that this works both ways. Though you may be worried that your parents will start yelling at you, it’s easy to be offended by something they say, as well.
Make sure that you’re prepared to have this kind of conversation. When opening yourself up, you may become the victim of deeply-personal insults—intentional or otherwise.
Don’t let these take you off guard and derail the conversation. Learn to take them in stride and answer everything honestly and with good tact. By staying calm, you can help keep the conversation pointed in a mature direction.
And because of this, you’re much more likely to win the support of your parents. By turning the discussion into an argument, you’re going to be much more likely to leave a bitter taste in their mouths.
And once you’ve given them a reason to be angry about it, it’s likely they’ll be too prideful to back down.
For this reason, it’s imperative that you keep the conversation civil at all times. Even when you’re expressing feelings of frustration, be sure not to blame anyone. By keeping the conversation open and non-accusatory, you’re more likely to get positive results.
And again, remember, don’t expect them to agree right away. Plan for some of their comebacks and objections and be prepared to combat them. Just do so in a civil manner that won’t promote further conflict.
Have a Career Plan
When having this conversation, understand that your parents simply want the best for you. Traditional wisdom says this means going to college—and you can bet that your parents don’t want you throwing your future away.
It’s going to take a lot of convincing to tell them otherwise.
Because of this, one of the best things you can do is to make sure that you’ve got a career path lined up. Maybe you’ve got plans to go to technical school to learn a trade—something that pays well.
If your parents can see that you do have options available, you can help assuage their worries.
For instance, you might consider telling them that you’ve got plans to become a welder and make $50,000+ a year—more than the average college graduate makes upon graduation.
Or, you might tell them that you’ve secured a job or an internship somewhere else with a lot of upward mobility. Maybe your dream is to move up the ladder, and you’ve got proof that you can.
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By having this information on tap, you can keep your parents engaged in the conversation—and you’ll likely even when their support.
Don’t feel bad if they’re skeptical at first. It’s not a reflection on you—it just speaks to the current state of the world.
Ultimately, by having a plan laid out in front of them, you’ll be able to win their favor much more easily than you otherwise would.
If you don’t have a career plan, really consider what it is that you want to do in life—because you’re going to have to find out soon anyway. This information can help both you and your parents prepare for your future.
Weigh Your Options
Finally, make sure that before you talk to your parents, you really are making the decision right for you.
To do this, examine your reasons for not wanting to go to college.
Are you afraid of the work?
Do you not want to leave home?
Would it separate you from your high school sweetheart?
The truth is that there are several valid reasons why someone shouldn’t go to university. However, it’s also true that university graduates typically do better financially than high school graduates, so you’re going to have to reconcile that with your own personal plan.
The bottom line, however, is this: if you’re not sure if this is the right choice for you, you’ll never be able to convince your parents of this.
If you don’t have fully-formed reasons and plans in place, you’re likely not going to make a good case in front of your parents.
They might even talk you out of it or pressure you into backing down.
For this reason, it’s important that you make sure that you’re making the right decision for you. Once you know you are, then plan on talking to your parents.
By keeping the above tips in mind, you’ll be prepared to have a real conversation about the issue.
See also: Top 15 Things You Need For College