Parents Hold High Standards for College

By Amy Dickinson | April 12th, 2024

Should they loosen their standards?

family argument. These parents hold high standards for their children in college, but their daughter isn’t measuring up.

These parents hold high standards for their children in college, but their daughter isn’t measuring up. Should they loosen their standards? Advice columnist Amy Dickinson weighs in.

Dear Amy:

My wife and I have two children. From the time they were very young, we made our limits for college very clear. They have to get A’s or B’s – nothing below a B. They can’t get into trouble with the law or the school. They have to find something meaningful to do aside from their schooling – such as volunteering or a part-time job. Things that will build up their resumes for the next stage of their lives.

We have said that if they don’t satisfy these parameters, we will not pay for their schooling. We will judge this on a semester-to-semester basis.

We realize that these are high standards, but as a family, we have high standards. That’s the way it is.

Our daughter came home from her first semester at college with B’s and C’s. She has not gotten into trouble, but she has not found any outside worthwhile activities.

My wife and I gave her one more semester to get it together, but she recently told us that she is worried that she isn’t able to bring her grades up enough.

We told her that a deal is a deal, and if she likes college, she’ll have to satisfy these requirements.

She thinks we’re wrong, of course, and we have agreed to seek an outside opinion about this.

What do you think?

– Puzzled Parents

Dear Puzzled:

I think you’re wrong. Also dumb.

If you want your kids to skim their education off of the lowest hanging offerings at school, then your rigidity about their grades will incentivize them to choose the easiest course of study. And so at the beginning of the semester when they are signing up for classes, they might hedge their bets and skip over biochemistry in favor of “Intro to soccer appreciation.”

(The internet is crowded with suggestions for “GPA boosters.”)

Scoring high grades doesn’t always equate with longer-term success.

Sometimes, we learn the most from experiences which are harder to master. Parenting is a great example of this principle.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from when parents hold high standards to dark family secrets and DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

©2024 by Amy Dickinson

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