We recently shared a story on our Facebook page about what to do when your student is set on attending a school that’s out of your price range, but they refuse to take no for an answer. Many parents weighed in, but one mom in particular, Suzanne F., shared an anecdote that shows sometimes our children really do know what’s best for them, even if we’re not so sure.
Here is her story.
My daughter wanted to go to art school in NYC. The idea of her managing with her health history worried me, let alone her attentional and executive functioning challenges, and I didn’t have confidence that she would last long. I also didn’t want to cosign any loans, which went against the tidal wave of everyone in her friend group in high school.
She had a strong portfolio and a very dedicated special education teacher who made sure she took time during the school day to write essays and applications. She was accepted to Parsons School of Design in New York City with some scholarship money. Knowing I couldn’t make up the difference, she called them three separate times without my knowledge and got an increase each time. She went from getting full tuition to full tuition plus work-study, and then later a Residential Advisor position, with a meal plan included.
Persistence Pays Off But Comes at a Price
It was a great accomplishment, but it came at a high price. She had to work full-time for five years while going to school to get two degrees. The second degree, in journalism, piggybacked on the first, and it was a steal. She proved herself to herself and to me, but it was often harrowing, and her health suffered. I realize now our small city couldn’t offer her the chance to learn, fail, and grow the way New York City could.
That said, she regrets that she didn’t have the time to make the best use of her opportunities because she was always working. Living with fellow students who partied and slept late, taking those opportunities for granted, was jarring, too.
Weighing The Trade-Offs, Some Debt May Be Worth It
In the end, she was right, and I was wrong. Paying $15,000 for two degrees from a world-renowned institution is manageable debt. Her personal network from school and as a Parsons alum has helped a lot. She’s doing meaningful work as a public relations consultant for businesses whose mission she believes in, and continuing to develop both personally and professionally. Her peers voted for her to be the commencement speaker the year she graduated and I’ve been encouraging her to try standup ever since that speech!
In this case, I didn’t have much choice but to let go. She took the ball and ran with it, and I couldn’t be more relieved.
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