Redmond, OR asked in Family Law and Juvenile Law for Oregon

Q: I am a minor in Oregon enrolled in a program to start college full time. Can my parents legally stop me from going?

Program is called Baker Early College. I am 16.

My parents do not agree with me going, I just want to know if they can legally stop me.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Joanne Reisman
Joanne Reisman
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: Legally your parents are your guardians until you turn 18. Once you turn 18 you can do whatever you want. Along with being your guardians your parents provide you with a place to live and financial support and it is extremely important to hae this financial assistance if you want to stay in school.

You can apply to the court to become an emancipated minor and a judge will have discretion to grant or not grant your application. I don't recommend doing this. Being emancipated means having to get a job and support yourself and that would make going to school extremely hard.

Honestly, it is my experience that parents want the best for their children so I suspect that if your parents are objecting it is because they have some legitimate concern as to what is best for your welfare and your education. If you are truly mature enough and responsible enough to be entering college then you should be able to talk calmly with your parents and find out what their concerns are and figure out a way to reach a compromise that satisfies their concerns and sets rules which you can also live with.

I would focus on how to get the best grades and the best school transcript you can before you finish high school so that you can apply for and get into a good college when you graduate. Equally important is figuring out how to finance your post high school education. The fact that you want to enter a program that allows you to get credit at a local community college that counts towards your high school graduation is admirable but it may not be the best overall strategy. If your goal is to only go to a two year community college then it may not matter. But if you want to get into a 4 year college, which I would recommend if you can figure out how to finance this, you need to start with contacting some of the colleges you are thinking about and study what they value when they review applications and decide who to admit. You will then have to focus on doing what will give you the best chance of a getting admitted.

You might also want to consider whether just enrolling directly in some community college courses you want to take are an option. You may not need to do this through Baker Early College. I was able to take a community college course while still attending my high school my senior year by making special arrangements with my counselors and getting permission from my parents. But I only did this for one course - it was a Water Safety Instructor's course that I needed to get a summer job as a lifeguard. Also consider that you can take community college classes during the summer when your high school isn't in session. Talk to your parents, work with them.

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