Maybe you got divorced when your child was very young, or perhaps you’ll be taking that step as they near the end of high school. Either way, when the time comes to choosing a college, co-parents can find themselves competing to be part of the process.
Choosing a college is probably one of the first major life decisions your child will make. How many options they have and how much control you have over that decision depends on a number of factors – from grades to scholarships to parental finances. If you and your co-parent have been committed to growing your child’s college savings over the years, you can feel good about that (especially if you did it after you divorced).
Now you’ve got tours of college campuses coming up as your child narrows down the schools they’ll be applying to. Likely, you and your co-parent both want to participate in this rite of passage. So how do you do it?
Deciding how to divide the visits
Often, co-parents divide and conquer. Each accompanies their child to half the schools on their list. Which one(s) you take may depend on your interests and connections. If you’re a Stanford alum, for example, you’ll likely want to participate in that tour and show them some of your old haunts (or where they used to be). Consider what schools make sense for each of you to visit, but don’t forget to take your child’s wishes into consideration.
If you both want to look at a particular school, just make sure you can navigate the trip without conflict. Some divorced parents can do this. You may decide to have one parent take the tour with your child while the other talks with people in the financial aid office.
Often, kids prefer to go on these tours without any parent next to them silently – or not so silently – noting how different everything is from when they were in college. You may end up seeking out a coffee shop where you can pass the time and get some work done.
If you and your co-parent haven’t yet worked out things like how you’ll split tuition and other college expenses, how you’ll deal with the federal student financial aid application and where your child will be spending their breaks, this is a good time to codify that so you minimize conflict. It’s wise to have legal guidance as you do this.