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So You Want Your Child to Attend Your Alma Mater?

Posted by: Kim McCall Whitley, ‘85, Parents Engagement & Reunion Giving Officer

aerial view of Johnson Hall

If you had a good college experience and have a child in high school, chances are you’ve already talked with her about attending your alma mater.

Doing so usually comes from a sincere desire to share a meaningful experience. You loved your college and want your child to have the same great four years. And, let’s be honest, it can be hard to let your child go – sending her to a place you know well can make that idea feel a little less intimidating.

I have a unique perspective on this topic as my mother and my daughter attended my alma mater, so I have experience on both sides of this conversation. In my role as a Parents Engagement Officer at Meredith, I also have the opportunity to talk with many parents who would like their children to attend Meredith (after all, 95% of our grads say they’d choose Meredith again), but aren’t sure how best to make it happen.

If you think your alma mater might be a good fit for your child, here are some tips to bear in mind when starting that discussion.

1) Be sensitive to her interests. By now you have surely realized that your child is no mini-me. She has her own passions and interests and they may be very different from yours. So even if you never missed a Cornhuskin’ practice or opportunity to tailgate, if she’s more introverted and hates crowds you might want to choose another aspect of your college experience to share.

2) Look for opportunities to get her on campus. Meredith offers a variety of camps and other programming. Signing your child up for volleyball camp or music lessons is a low-pressure way to help her get a feel for the campus.

3) Don’t push. Even the most eager-to-please child will rebel if she feels like she has no power in what is arguably the most important decision in her life up to this point. Your role as parent is to help her choose the right college for her, not you.

4) Conduct a thorough college search. Your alma mater may very well be her (and your!) first choice, but it’s essential for your child to explore a variety of colleges and include your school as one option. Take the time to develop a good list of schools with varied sizes, experiences, and settings, and then visit them. Which brings me to my next tip …

5) Visit. Whether your daughter is convinced that your alma mater is the greatest school or insists that it’s the last place she will attend, an official campus visit is the best way to reset any preconceived ideas that she, and you, may have. Take a look at Meredith’s virtual admissions experience website

6) Expect opinions to change. As students go through the college search process, it’s very normal for their feelings about schools to change. Try to remain as neutral as possible throughout the process.

7) Remember that you’re the parent. Choosing the “right” school, applying for admission, taking entrance exams – it can all feel quite overwhelming for your child. You can help to reduce her anxiety by managing your own.

In the end, bear in mind that your shared goal is to find a school where your daughter will be happy and successful – whether that means attending your alma mater or another institution.

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