Parent College Coach Tip #22: With Freedom Comes Responsibility

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July 4, 2014

Today is Independence Day and the very nature of the day causes us to think about freedom. For parents it reminds us of past conflicts both foreign and domestic; for teens, freedom takes on a completely different definition. They long for the day when they are free from parental authority and independent, on their own, in college. But with freedom comes responsibility.

Functioning in the present

When you’re young and your whole life is ahead of you, you tend to function in the present. Twenty or thirty years from now seems like an eternity to someone in their teens and twenties. But time has a way of catching up with us and every choice we make when we are young has both good and bad consequences. The trick is to know when those consequences aren’t worth the risk. And the other trick is to pause long enough before taking those risks to weigh both the good and the bad.

A free choice with negative consequences

All choices have consequences: good or bad. When teenagers enter college they are bombarded with choices. Should they study; should they socialize? Should they drink illegally or make the hard choice and stay sober? Should they skip class when they don’t feel like going or be responsible and realize that this is a paid education that they shouldn’t waste? As you can see, each of these decisions has consequences. Helping your college-bound teen learn this concept is critical before they have negative consequences.

Lessons learned

If you get anything from this bit of advice, let it be this: teach your teenagers to take time to think before they act. Weigh the good and the bad consequences. Then once they decide, make the best of their decision and swallow the good with the bad. Every path they will take in their life has the potential for greatness. Help them see before they head off to college that freedom brings responsibility –responsibility for their actions and the consequences of those actions.

Author: Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer advises parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation at She is excited to share her knowledge with the readers of Smart College Visit.

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