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My Two Cents

Today, NeXt debuts a new advice column for readers 18 and younger. My Two Cents is written by Taylor Watson, a junior at Lancaster High School, and her mother, Deb Skok Watson, a school counselor/social worker at the Hopevale School District. To get your questions answered, e-mail

>Dear My Two Cents: My parents keep pressuring me about my plans for college, and I'm only a high school freshman! Seems every day we argue over what I should do when I leave high school. How do I get them to back off a little?

Taylor: Oh my, that sounds familiar. I know exactly what you mean! Since my mother's a counselor, she does not stop talking about college, which makes me yell out "Someone help me please!"). Unfortunately nobody answers my plea, for my mother's still here droning on about it. I have tried some things to keep my parents at bay, so here's my advice:

Getting your folks to back off a little is possible; getting them to stop completely is impossible. Rolling your eyes and throwing yourself on the floor, screaming doesn't work. Sit your parents down and explain to them you'll take it slow and not rush into plans. You just entered high school, and that's a big change. They need to respect your time to adjust to your current situation. Calmly tell them that you're thinking about it but aren't ready for any definite decisions. It would help if you know what you want to go to college for, though. Explain that you're trying different classes to see what you're interested in. See? You're open to things.

Ultimately, remember that it's your choice when it comes to college. NEVER let your parents tell you your plans are not "acceptable." Your parents are not you. Don't overreact. Going "Oh my gosh, not this again," is only going to create more tension. Good luck and remember: keeping a cool head helps a lot.

Mom: Unfortunately, sometimes the good intentions of a parent can cross that gentle line which separates caring from controlling. Just remember: deep down, we really do worry about what's going on in that Guitar Hero-playing, chronic instant-messaging head of yours.

Now, how about you? Have you taken responsibility for formulating your plans for the future, or do you expect it to just "magically" fall in place? Given the ever-increasing cost of college, if you expect your folks to foot some (or all) of the bill, they deserve the common courtesy of knowing whether they're making a good investment in YOU. Too many of today's kids seem to think that parents' payment of college tuition is a birthright. Newsflash! It's not.

If you're not counting on assistance from your parents for college -- or whatever you decide to do after high school -- good for you! Prove it by having a full understanding of what your options are and what the financial burden is likely to be no matter what road you take. Show your folks you mean business by taking care of it on your own. Finally, be glad you have parents who worry about you. No matter how much it frays your nerves for the time being, a lot of kids do not have that luxury.

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