Photo Courtesy of Vivian Leech '23
Parental pressure when choosing a college is nothing new to high school students. However, students whose parents went to the same school go through a different type of pressure. As many seniors start to apply to college, parents’ own experiences can shape the opportunities they want for their children.
Vivian Leech’s ’23 parents both went to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She was raised on her parents’ college stories, which influenced her interest in the college. Vivian Leech aspires to go to Michigan or a school of similar academic reputation.
“Out of college experiences, [University of Michigan] is the only one that I’ve ever heard about,” Vivian Leech said. “Going to football games and what their classes were like, it definitely sounds like a rigorous curriculum, but also a fun college life as well.”
Vivian Leech’s dad, Scott Leech, who graduated from the University of Michiganin 1992 with an undergrad degree in economics, sees Michigan as a good school where Vivian Leech could get the education she is looking for. He trusts her to make that decision, but Michigan is definitely in the running.
“I think she’d be a good fit at Michigan,” Scott Leech said. “Ultimately, she needs to be the one to determine where she wants to go and if Michigan’s a fit for her. Given my experience that I had there and knowing what her interests are and the quality of education that university offers are all reasons why she would fit in there.”
These experiences, according to school psychologist Lisa Khoury can often pressure students to attend certain colleges as a legacy.
“Sometimes parents, because they’ve been to school, they know it and often times it was a positive experience for them, they’re more likely to suggest or to guide their students to explore that college,” Khoury said. “On a positive side, it might give students an insight into a college that they might not otherwise have. In addition to that typical school college tour they might get, through their parents might be able to provide additional insight and influence or talking about professors they had or degree programs or how things worked to their favor. (But) that might cause a student to maybe consider a college that they’re not comfortable with. ”
Vivian Leech acknowledges Michigan’s competitive atmosphere and she has been determined to meet the high expectations. She sets necessary goals for herself to establish a Michigan-worthy college application.
“It’s an academic standard,” Vivian Leech said. “I want to go to the school that I’ve been considering all my life. My parents don’t necessarily put pressure on me because they’re fine with me going to another school, but there would have to be a reason why I’d be choosing somewhere other than Michigan.”
Since she is still a junior, Vivian Leech has been looking into other schools with similar reputations to Michigan, like Northwestern University. Her parents continue to be supportive of her decisions as long as they aid her future plans. Michigan is at the top of Vivian Leech’s college list and she is going to make sure she has the qualifications for it.
“You have to have amazing grades to get into [Michigan],” Vivian Leech said. “I think that’s been an influence on me. Striving for good grades and my study habits and how I perform is based on the goal to get into a college like Michigan or to get into Michigan.”
Luka Haxhiu’s ’22 family has been attending the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy for several generations. He will be attending the University in the fall
“On my dad’s side of the family’s history, all the men in the family have gone there,” Haxhiu said.” Their sons follow, and they all just have gone there for years, and then after a certain amount of time the men in our family are now expected to go there. I’d be messing up generations’ work by not going there.”
According to Haxhiu, he did look at other colleges to see if they interested him. However since he was wanted to and expected to attend the University of Bologna, he did not spend a lot of time on his search.
“There had to be something from schools that caught my eye, because it was important to me to keep the dynasty going,” Haxhiu said. “Something would have really caught me or attracted me to that school.”
In addition to continuing on his family’s legacy, Haxhiu has always wanted to go to college in Europe.
“I really want to live in Europe,” Haxhiu said. “I really want to experience different cultures like that, and the university itself. I think it’s beautiful, if that stupid reason. I just really enjoyed all the different cultures and experiences and things like that and I think it’d be a really cool experience as well, not just going abroad (for a semester).”
Regardless of her parent’s support, Vivian Leech’s family have been Michigan fans for a long time. Which can add to Vivian Leech’s looming ambition to get into Michigan.
“We’ve been a Michigan family,” Scott Leech said. “That’s all Vivian has known from the college perspective; football Saturdays, trips to Ann Arbor have been immersive.”
Although some students might give into their parent’s wishes, Khoury said they are not necessarily tied to that college.
“The great news for any student to understand is that because you’re in a college and you stay one year, you can look to transfer,” Khoury said. “You can say ‘look, I gave it the old college try right for one year, and I really don’t feel like it fits my needs.’ Explore transfering, and that might be an easy way into another college (you want to go to).”
Khoury encourages students who are going against their parents wishes to work with their parents, not against them to gain support for their decision.
“I think that it’s important for students to walk their parents through their sort of decision making process,” Khoury said. “Make your thinking about your choice of a college visible to your parents like letting them in on why you think one way versus another. Don’t completely shut out your parents. When you’re talking to them about your choices, include your parents’ choice and maybe give one positive reason why that would be a good thing but (explore other options).”