Betsy Hart

Reality: Briggs said, "Be creative if you can't afford college without huge debt!" Consider two years at the local junior college while living at home and working part-time, then a year of working full time after that to pay for the next two years at a traditional college or university. That means earning the same bachelors degree as other graduates, with little or no debt, in five years.

Of course here's the rub on the "realities" -- such paths don't allow mom, dad, and child to brag about the prestigious school junior is attending. Moreover, too many parents consistently shape every experience in their child's world to "fit" junior, while allowing him to make every choice. Now, the 17-year-old thinks that he's entitled to that paradigm for college too, no matter the debt load for himself or his parents.

Consider today's families visiting five to 10 colleges across the country for their kids looking to find just the "right fit" for junior. When I graduated from high school, such scouting trips were unknown. There was a sense that you gathered your college data, made a good pick typically with a lot of guidance and limits set by mom and dad and then it was up to the child to make it work.

I agree with Briggs best advice: Yes, by all means build the college savings accounts! But moms and dads, take a deep breath and focus even more on building children of character who will naturally thrive in whatever environment, including whatever college or university environment, they -- with your wise direction -- eventually decide on.

(For more information and my full radio interview with David Briggs, visit www.betsysblog.com)


Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart is a nationally syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service. Her column on cultural and family issues, “From the Hart,” is distributed each week to hundreds of newspapers cross the country. Betsy’s first book, "It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting out Kids – and What to do About It," was released in September, 2005, and was a top seller for its publisher, Putnam Books.