When it Comes to College, One Size Does Not Fit All

by Amy Barest, Parent & Friend of UpperCampus


If you grew up in a household with siblings, chances are that you were all subject to the same “family” rules about allowance, chores, curfew, screen time, academic priorities, etc. Vacations were taken together, and often family decisions for summer camp and initial extracurricular activities might have been the same. But as you got older and your interests and talents diverged from those of your siblings, so too did some of your choices. Nowhere is this divergence more relevant than in your path following graduation from high school. Whether you are pursuing a college degree, a professional or vocational certification, or an immediate work opportunity, it could look very different from your siblings’ choices. And that makes perfect sense. Of course there will always be people who will ask if you plan to go where your older brother or sister went. It’s a natural instinct, but that doesn’t mean it is always the right decision.


I often get asked that exact question for my two younger children, neither of whom has any interest in attending the same large public university that my oldest attends. My middle child instead chose a private university in an urban area known for work/study opportunities, and my youngest is contemplating completely different places based on her own set of criteria. It is important to think about what features are important to you in a school - the size, the campus setting, and of course, the program offerings for what you would like to study. The answers to these questions may look different from your friends and classmates, but also from your siblings. Because even though you may have been raised with a lot in common, this can be your time to forge your very own path.

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