Wednesday’s Parent: Peer pressure sabotages college prep

Steamed about peer pressure. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Steamed about peer pressure. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

The golden rule may be all about putting others first but college prep offers the chance for the college-bound to be selfish. It’s a 180 degree reversal of the good citizen message parents emphasize but essential to combat the influence of peer pressure during the college prep process.

Peer pressure pitfalls include following a boyfriend’s choice of college over a better fit, joining a popular club with no personal interest, acting or failing to act to follow the crowd, and down-playing a skill or talent just to fit in. If you think your child is above this, think again. A teen’s self-esteem is more fragile than ice starting to freeze at the first frost. Sacrificing a personal want can seem superior when it gains the comfort of being accepted by a group. Unfortunately, college acceptance is based on a different set of rules.

Institutions of higher learning set minimum admission requirements for applicants to share but that doesn’t mean they want cookie cutter students. The onus is on students to showcase what they offer to the campus that is special and unique. Introspection and self-evaluation can go a long way to focus student emphasis on who they are now and what they want to achieve.

College prep includes beefing up strengths and fortifying weaknesses. It leads students beyond their own circle to explore new ideas and ways. If peer pressure is holding your student back, parents and students can work together as a team to do what is in the student’s best interest. Start with brainstorming college, lifestyle and career goals. Then form a plan to make it happen. And this kind of selfishness fits right in with college prep.

Read Suzanne’s post: College Prep Peer Pressure


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

This month Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT on Wednesday, January 21. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound. 

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

Wednesday’s Parent: Parental peer pressure


Peer Pressure, Photo by sillygwailo

If your friend jumped off a bridge would you do it? 

I agree with Suzanne that “(t)his is a classic parental adage.” As with other proverbs, this one applies through the ages. I mean it relates when we say it to our children as easily as when our parents said it to us. I also mean it still holds true for us as we age.

Peer pressure is universal and timeless. Although experience is a great teacher, adults still can be affected. If the decisions are minor or not dangerous, bowing to peer pressure may not be such a big deal. But sometimes decisions can directly or indirectly impact our children.

Keeping up with the Joneses is the adult version of the bridge adage. If you base decisions on what’s popular, peer pressure has cut another notch on its belt. Our choices can also present learning opportunities for children. Here are a couple versions of examples I faced:

For example: Let’s say you’re in the market for a new bracelet. You’re all set to buy one you have been admiring and then you see friends and celebrities wearing something else. It’s a style you saw earlier but rejected because the other one was more appealing to you. Yet wearing the trendy one will make you feel part of the in-crowd. Which do you purchase? The one you really want or the one that everyone else wants and thinks you should want, too?

Now let’s say your child was with you during the whole shopping experience. She knows how much you want the first bracelet. She also watches T.V. and has seen ads for the second bracelet. You both have noticed friends and family members sporting the latter. Which do you purchase?

Or this example: It’s time to select an extracurricular activity for your not so athletic child who loves to draw. There is a new after-school art program but his not so artistic friends are playing together in a soccer league. Or you have a choice of schools but your friends are enrolling their kids in the one furthest from your home. What do you do? Do you sign your child up based on his best interests or by the interests of others?

Sometimes what others do makes us rethink our own position. That’s fine as long as peer pressure doesn’t substitute for good judgement. Unfortunately, this can happen during the college process.

Your child may want to choose a college based on where his friends are going. A relative may urge her alma mater. A sibling may push a famous college ranking list.

You may want to boast about the colleges on your student’s list, those she got into, and the one he chose to accept admission from but bragging rights shouldn’t be part of any of these decisions.

Researching colleges, forming a college list, visiting schools (collegecation), applying to colleges, and picking one to attend is about finding the best higher education for your student, not choosing the most popular. The stakes are too high leading to future achievements and success.

So go ahead and research schools together, note others’ opinions and listen to trusted advisors. Then together make objective decisions based on the subjective best interests of your child. It won’t be easy but as Thomas Edison said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” And that’s the makings of another adage.

You have my take on parental peer pressure, now read on for Suzanne’s Straight Talk about Peer Pressure.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.