How to be 50: How to Help Your Kid Pick a College

By Charlotte Latvala

The ivy halls beckon.

The ivy halls beckon.

Let’s face it: At 50, we barely remember why we chose the college we did. Maybe we randomly picked a school close to home, or gravitated to the university where our current girlfriend/boyfriend was headed. If our parents were involved, it was only to co-sign the student loans.

The expectations are different today. Your child’s success, after all, is your success, and nothing is more important than shoving your kid vigorously in the right direction. Here’s a little road map to help:

  • Tell him if he doesn’t attend the college of your choice, he’s out of the will.
  • When he reminds you that your net worth is basically whatever your old Pink Floyd albums would fetch on eBay, throw darts at a map until one lands on a college town. Announce, in your best Christopher Lee voice, “Then Fate has sealed your decision.”
The enemy approaches, and it is the first tuition payment.

The enemy approaches, and it is the first tuition payment.

  • Add some clarity by repeating “This is the MOST IMPORTANT DECISION OF YOUR LIFE” on an hourly basis as your kid pours over college brochures and web sites.
  • Keep the mood light by saying, “No pressure now!” disregarding the fact that you’ve compared him to an overachieving sibling for the past four years.
  • When consulting with high school guidance counselors, use the royal “we.” (Caveat: You should only do this if you have a superstar child you enjoy taking full credit for.)
We're gloating over our good grades!

We’re gloating over our good grades!

  • Spend thousands of dollars on SAT prep classes so your child can test higher than his actual ability and make it into a college he isn’t prepared for. (Later, complain bitterly when he drops out.)
  • Insist that he visit your alma mater. Tell long, pointless stories of your undergrad hi-jinks, culminating in a bawdy tale involving a freezing cold night, minimal clothing, and a cafeteria tray.
What tales this piece of molded plastic could tell!

What tales this piece of molded plastic could tell!

  • Ask the tour guide embarrassing personal questions. Repeatedly reference beer pong to show how hip you still are. Ask loudly, “Was that a guy or a girl?” whenever a student with a man bun walks by.
What manner of bun is this?

Explain yourself, bun-man!

  • Elbow the other parents on the tour and say “Well, we didn’t have THAT in the eighties if you know what I mean!” (You don’t actually mean anything but this is a wonderful ploy to get your child to walk quickly away from you and finish a tiresome tour in a hurry.)
  • Back at home, repeatedly call the admissions office to ask if your kid is “blowing everyone else out of the water.”
  • Once he gets into school – any school – hold a bonfire and burn all the college brochures that accumulated in the past year. Trust us, you won’t want to relive any of this.
Ring of College Fire.

Ring of College Fire.

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9 Comments

Filed under college, college admissions, humor, lists, middle-aged

9 responses to “How to be 50: How to Help Your Kid Pick a College

  1. I remember exactly why I chose my university. Perhaps I’m not really in my 50s. (I really am). Cafeteria trays didn’t come into it, but they were in use in the very cold winter of one of the winters I was there. My hall of residence was on a hill and one year it snowed. I gather that that’s not unusual for the Midlands.

    • Charlotte Latvala

      I went to college in central Ohio, with considerable snow…and yes, “traying” was a form of sledding…pretty sure alcohol was involved as well.

  2. My wife and I just laughed so much about the prep classes. So true ☺

    • Charlotte Latvala

      Parents can get super-competitive, right? It’s out of hand….

      • So true. My daughter is only 11 but her school alreadt has an “Enrichment” class for supposedly top performers. However nearly all the children in it are children too old for the year that they are in (deliberately held back by parents to give them an age advantage), and all attend external tutoring of some variety. Very competitive parents!

      • Charlotte Latvala

        And it gets really crazy when they hit high school….

  3. Well thanks for your humorous advice. I hope I remember all this in a few years to come 😂

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