Dear Friends and Family, Please Keep Your Snarky Opinions About My Teen’s College Choice to Yourself

Opinions about college choices.
Here are great responses to unsolicited opinions about where your teen is going to college. (Aaron Amat/Shutterstock)

Teens work hard to get accepted into college: please be supportive

Your kid worked their tail off during high school and they are so proud of the college they will be attending in the fall.

Or maybe they were kind of just “not that into school” and they are simply happy they’ve chosen a community college to have some time to figure out what they want to study in the future.

Or maybe they got rejected from a “dream” school” and are coming to grips with their second or third choice.

Or maybe they’re on a fast track to a completely different experience.

No matter what the situation is regarding where your student will be come fall, or what you as a family have decided is the best route for them, the minute you begin to share your news, someone is going to rain on your parade.

It may be a nosy co-worker, your crazy aunt, or a well-meaning friend who blurts out their unsolicited opinion, but it’s bound to happen sooner or later. Opinions are like toilets —everyone’s got one and sometimes they stink!

Here are some of the most common you may encounter, and some possible responses if you find yourself speechless at the offensive remarks.

How to respond to snarky comments about your teen’s college choice

1. “My nephew hated that school and transferred after one semester. Their dorms are really disgusting.”

Aww, that’s such a bummer for your nephew. I’m betting my kid will be very resilient and overcome any challenges they’ll face there. Disgusting dorms are a good life experience! She’ll probably begin to appreciate home a lot more!

2. “Was that her only acceptance? Are you sure you want her going there?”

She had many options but knows this is the right choice for her. We support her decision because it’s about her. And we loved the tour we went on there. 

3. “That school is in a terrible location. You better buy some pepper spray right now.”

Well, students have been going there for decades so I’m sure she’ll be fine. The University has very good security measures in place. I’ll tell her to sign up for a karate class!

4. “Didn’t you hear? Rich people buy their kid’s way into that school. A degree from there doesn’t mean much now.”

Yep, stuff like that happens at a lot of schools, but it’s a tiny percentage of students and it takes nothing away from kids who got accepted legitimately. We’re not at all concerned.  Plus, the check we wrote bounced.

5. “That’s a huuuge party school! Good luck if he’s really serious about studying.”

Believe it or not, kids party at every school out there. He’ll have to figure out how to navigate the social scene just like every college student does. And maybe he can teach us some new drinking games! 

6. “Why would you pay that kind of tuition? You’re insane!”

We all choose how to prioritize our spending, don’t we? We’re thankful for scholarships/work-study/careful planning and saving/our inheritance/our lottery win. We’re insanely happy!”

7. “Yikes, don’t you think community college is a waste of time?”

Absolutely not. Education of any kind is never a waste of time. She can get all her Gen Ed courses taken care of for a whole lot less than at the state university. It’s a super-smart way to go, maybe you aren’t aware of that.

8. “You’re actually letting them enlist in the military? (Or go to a trade school? Or take a gap year? Or just start working?)

Indeed, we are! They are choosing a path that’s right for them and we’re so proud. We’ll keep you posted on their exciting new journey, as it sounds like you are quite interested in hearing about their adventures.

And of course, we all know there are a multitude of curt responses to discourteous comments, so if pressed for time, you can also throw out one of these before you walk away smiling:

Your opinion has been noted. Thanks so much for sharing!

I’m sure you didn’t mean that to come out the way it did. Some people might not give you the benefit of the doubt next time.

Let me go grab a paper and pen so I can jot down your opinion.

It’s really none of your business, is it? But have a great day.

As the saying goes, “People have a right to their opinion, and you have the right to ignore it.”

Congratulations on whatever path your student will soon start down!

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About Marybeth Bock

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing - as long as iced coffee is involved. You can find her work on numerous websites and in two books. Find her on Facebook and Instagram

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