As the parent of a soon-to-be high school graduate, you’re likely a pro at teen speak.

But if your son or daughter is struggling to choose a college, you might need to initiate the trickiest teen talk of your parenting career. It’s a very tough balance — you want to guide without preaching, but of course you also want your child to make the right choice. To navigate this complex conversation, here are expert tips for helping your teen make a solid decision without taking over.

Listen 75% of the Time

“Talking to your teen about college is 75% listening and 25% asking open-ended questions without giving away your opinion,” says Jennifer Dromgoole, a college admissions consultant at the Dromgoole Center for Admissions. “Parents’ preferences often stem from their own college experience, which is why I really try to ask them to set those aside.” Dromgoole reminds parents that this decision is about their child finding their own college experience and shouldn’t hinge on how you, the parents, felt about college.

“Talking to your teen about college is 75% listening and 25% asking open-ended questions without giving away your opinion.”

– Jennifer Dromgoole

Revisit College Campuses

Once your child narrows their list down to two or three schools, let them revisit each campus, doing overnights, if possible. While they’re there, Betsy Woolf of Woolf College Consulting says they should ask pointed questions. “Ask several students, things like, ‘What did you do last weekend?’ ‘How big is your biggest class?’ ‘What’s the workload like?’ ‘How much harder is it in comparison to high school?’ ‘Roughly how many hours a day do you think you’re studying?’” she says. “Really get into the specifics.” Also, encourage them to sit in on a class and stay after to talk to the professor. If your child has a sense of their major, figure out if they can connect with faculty in that department to talk about specifics like credit requirements and internship support. You can facilitate these visits for your kid and help them develop a list of questions that targets their main interests and concerns.

Get Real About Money

If your child isn’t considering cost into their decision, you may want to have the money talk with your child. Your child may think they’re willing to take on debt personally, but it’s probably hard for them to understand just what this commitment looks like. Dromgoole recommends putting money in terms they can understand. You can use the price of something they know well, like a car, as a metric to measure the costs of college.  “I have gone as far as using Monopoly money, just so they can reach out and touch it,” she says.

Be sure you help them understand the full scope of their college costs — including room and board, travel home, books and supplies.

Discussing potential career paths and typical starting salaries in those fields can help put debt into perspective as well. Work together to do the math of figuring out a budget on an anticipated salary and how much of their future income might go toward loan payments. Factor in the potential of graduate or professional school if needed for your child’s area of interest.

“We like to give the students a vote, the parents a vote and us [college counselors] a vote.”

– Jennifer Dromgoole

Give It a Vote

Of course you have a voice in their college decision, especially if you are planning on contributing financially, but you can’t make the choice for them. A good way to make your opinion known without having the final word is holding a vote. “We like to give the students a vote, the parents a vote and us [college counselors] a vote,” Dromgoole says. “The school with the most votes isn’t necessarily where they go, but it at least unwraps any conversations that haven’t happened yet.” Be honest about why you’re voting for a school and prepare to explain your rationale. A compelling explanation of your opinion could lead to a compromise with your teen or an eye-opening perspective shift for them. A vote like this could be done with your teen’s college counselor or just with you, your child and your co-parent.

Ultimately, if you do everything you can to help them understand the decision they’re making, you’ll enable them to choose wisely — both now and in the future.

Interviews for this article were conducted in 2018.