College success is now up to your daughter

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: I am saddened by my daughter's ongoing disappointment because we could not afford to send her to her dream college. Instead, we are paying for her education at half the price (still over $26,000 a year) at an in-state school. Everyone tells you about financial aid and all the scholarships out there. The truth is that going to college is extremely expensive. Of course, student loans are available, but I do not believe in saddling my child with debt that would take 10 to 20 years to pay off. The problem is that my usually happy, intelligent daughter continues to complain about the school environment. She wanted a small school where professors know their students by name. She is a good student but finds all the partying at this particular school distracting. I think she is determined not to like this school. I have been saving since her birth to send her to school without a mountain of debt, but now that I have achieved this, I feel sad that she doesn't appreciate it. Is there anything I can say or do to help? Should I let her transfer and let her take out a hefty student loan to pay for it, even though it is against all my notions of good sense?Sad Mom

DEAR MOM: Your daughter needs to learn a lesson tougher than any course she will take in college: She is responsible for her own success and happiness, now and beyond.

If this school is not a good fit, she should look into transferring. In the course of researching other schools, she will have to explore how to finance her education, beyond the generous annual stipend from you.

I highly recommend the book "Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges," by Loren Pope (2006, Penguin Books). This lovely book will show you and your daughter that there is a potential great fit for every potentially great student. Send the book to her at school along with a note encouraging her to take responsibility for her situation.