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Childhood dreams matter more than money for college-bound teens

Making money matters when college-bound teens think about their majors, but following a childhood dream means more, according to an independent survey of college-bound teenagers and their parents. The survey looks at what factors into important college decisions and was commissioned by Discover Student Loans, one of the largest originators of private student loans in the country.

Parents and their children rank influencing factors differently when choosing a college major. Parents are much more focused on increasing opportunities for employment after graduation, while children are more interested than their parents in the potential to make a lot of money.

“A college education has lifelong benefits. Our survey looks at the discussions families are having around education and how aligned they are around important college decisions,” said PK Parekh, vice president for Discover Student Loans. “It’s apparent that most parents and their college-bound students are thinking about future careers and earning potential.”

As families discuss higher education, parents and their college-bound children are more united when it comes to the motivations for attending college – both have getting a job in mind. Both groups also place becoming independent and attending parties at the bottom of the list.

Although both students and their parents believe that getting a job after college is important, they disagree on what students should gain from a college degree. While students want a job that pays well, parents hope their children graduate with skills that can apply to a wide array of jobs.

Both groups agree that gaining independence and expanding social circles are not the primary focus of what students should get out of college – they received the lowest responses.

“It’s clear from our findings that parents and children from the same household are not always aligned on important college decisions,” said Parekh. “We encourage families to start the discussion process early and research all options and outcomes from choosing a major to paying for a college education.”

The national survey was conducted in March by the Toluna Group, an independent survey research firm. One thousand Americans were interviewed online – 500 parents and 500 of these parents’ college-bound high school juniors and seniors, and the results have a +/- 3 percentage points margin of error at 95 percent confidence.

See the complete survey results at



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