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Child failing college need advice asap


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Fab415 January 14, 2013


Fab415 4 minutes ago | EditReport it
I struggle to write this As am in disbelief that I face a similar situation.
But I need help and advice from experienced parents before I lose my mind.

My soon a 4 yr high school athlete star in 2 sports has always faced organization and time mgmt issues but only got 1 d his entire 4 yrs and mainly got a 2.7-3.5 in college prep courses.

He started at a local JC (comm. college) living at home and played football, he got a 3.0 in the fall.
The spring semester he got all F 's and didn't know why.
There was no explanation and he seemed amazed.
The summer he got all a's in health training classes and this fall he played college football again but got all F s.
when questioned about the bad grades he is amazed and can't believe it.
After the first failed semester he was grounded, and we checked in weekly to ask about school. He always said everything is great!!

How can someone be so unaware??

The sad thing is he is a awesome son, no drugs no hanging out no drinking no girlfriend. Just sports and working out.
Should I have him checked for brain trauma or a mental disability?
How can someone regress or get dumber?
My husband and I live our lives around our kids and their activities.
We sit ea night with them from elementary through high school to do homework . We are both college grads and pretty smart.

What did I do wrong?
Please help!

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MagnetMom January 15, 2013


Hi Fab415, and welcome to the GreatSchools parent community.

He's not regressing, and he's not dumber. He's not being honest with himself or with you. Everything is not going great if he fails all his classes. That doesn't happen suddenly. While this might be disorganization, it also looks like he needs help getting through school.

There are typically study groups and programs on most campuses that will help him stay organized. He should be meeting with his professors at the beginning and throughout the semester.

Because of federal laws, he's of age and you won't be able to get much information from the college. He himself will need to get the help himself.

And maybe he needs some time off from school--getting a job and paying rent. Have a heart to heart with him. Offer to go with him to the counseling office at college. And listen to what they can offer.

Good luck.

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Fab415 January 15, 2013


Hi magnet mom
Thank you for your kind response. My husband and I sat him down last night and told him to take a semester or two off. He was in tears b-c now he won't be able to accept a football scholarship offered to a four yr. his career goal is to play at a four yr, become a grad asst and teach in college while being part of the college football staff.

He knows that to accomplish this he has a lot if skl ahead of him, including grad skl. He begged us to let him enroll this spring again and swore he was going to pass all classes.
We sent him to the JC by our house and he talked to a counselor, now is enrolled for 10 units.

He seems to truly want to pursue higher education and I know he's smart b/c in high school he got A's on exams and his grade was lower due to NOT turning hmwk in.

I guess there is a pattern that I have denied.
But now we don't have the ability to babysit his grades online and his work.

If he is in a competitive environment he does well, and has excelled in sports since he was 5. But to get him to do skl work has been like pulling teeth out for the last 10 yrs.

Should I go with him to sign up for study groups and meet his teachers?
He's 19! At his age We already had him and I was working 24 hrs week and in college full time.

This is why we are so frustrated!

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WarrenWolff March 3, 2013


I have met/taught many students who have found themselves in the same boat. His HS decadence re: homework provides a hint. BUT, I would bet some big $$$ that he does NOT have brain trauma, et al. Colleges are overwhelmed with students who are VERY poorly trained/prepared for serious college-level work. High school have been infiltrated by administrators who demand a high pass rate; many teachers go along. In my teacher training, I met classmates who were astounded that I would issue a "D" or and "F". So, I am suggesting that your son pursue some remedial work first, based upon testing results of weaknessness. Good luck; this may not be fun.

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Smarterthanyou March 3, 2013


First of all, children can regress. Not a big deal getting them back on track. YOUR problem is asking how your son can get dumber???? You need to think about that before asking for help for someone else. Regressing does NOT have anything to do with stupidity or 'dumber' as you write. Go to a counselor first for you, then work on your son!

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kachoo March 3, 2013


I would check if he has an adequate set of study skills.

How does he keep track of due dates and deadlines?

What does he use to organize all the paper?j

How is his note-taking skill? Does he put down on his notebook or in his computer enough information from the lectures?

If you and your husband are college grads, you can talk to him about his study - NOT the material itself, but how he is planning to study a certain chapter or for a test. You will see why he is failing the classes. He probably does not know 1) what he is supposed to be getting out of the material, 2) what the test is going to be like (you need to have a clear idea of what a test is going to be about in order to do well on it), 3) how to check himself whether he actually knows the material or not.

I am teaching my own sons these crucial skills and hoping they will get it by the time they go to college. It's hard. School is no help in this matter. It's completely up to us, parents.

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HSeerley March 3, 2013


What you are describing is consistent with the organizational deficits with ADHD, including time blindness and anasagnosia (not being able to see oneself or ones' behaviors clearly).

Www.chadd.org. Search college, executive functioning deficits, organization, working memory, homework.

Edge Foundation has done a good research study on whether ADHD coaching makes a difference for college students. It does. Big time.

For more info, google YouTube for Russell Barkley ADHD and find his November 2012 talk at UNCH (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). Excellent!

The average age of diagnosis for ADHD is freshman year of college. That's when many who have succeeded academically despite ADHD (scaffolding provides by parents, environmental demands have not yet exceeded the organizational abilities for those with less severe ADHD) crash or begin to have challenges.

Because hands on, active learning requires less abstract organization than writing, and because high interest activities increase dopamine (the neurotransmitter that stimulant meds increase), students' challenges can often be misunderstood as willful or laziness when it is not the case.

Please look into this possibility.

The other thing to check is sleep apnea. Sleep deprivation's symptoms are similar to ADHD and make ADHD symptoms worse. Additionally, 85% of adults with ADHD also have some sort of sleep disorder.

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LisaLisa2 March 3, 2013


I agree! It definitely sounds like ADD.
1) see the website of Dr. Ed Hallowell, http://www.drhallowell.com/
2) get his book for you and your son to read simultaneously. "Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder" by Dr. Ed Hallowell
You'll particularly identify with the Chapter 24 "Major Danger Alert: College and ADD". You see, lots of undiagnosed ADD kids bomb out for a couple terms since the structure they had during high school is gone.
3) schedule an appointment with the school psych for an assessment for ADD and start the drugs
4) keep him in his beloved school and programs. He needs to feel that he's not a failure and that everything that he thought he was good at is taken away from him. He will be successful and happy in life if he can continue to follow his passions and become good at something he is proud of.

His brain is simply like a race car--great at fast or stop, not so good at doing an even, steady pace. That's what the drugs help with--and he can be in control of taking them for just school days or all the time.

Good luck. My sister failed the first year and half. She then worked hard and got reinstated at university. She got herself in for an ADHD diagnosis before grad school so that she would relive the pain of undergrad. She does great when she keeps with her drugs. She becomes aimless and can't get the important things accomplished when she stops taking them. She's a very bright kid with several amazing accomplishments and a lot of potential to do more.

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tinapasq March 4, 2013


I wish I caught this post sooner. You didn't say which JC he is attending, (some JC athletic programs are better than others) however he needs a certain GPA to get a football scholarship from a four year college. (Whether it's D1 to D3 - D3's would give him a merit instead of an athletic scholarship)
As an athlete, he does get extra attention, the coach and his team will have the tools to help him. Most athletes will get their own tutors and library hours for each class. There should be an athletic counselor as well.

He may need a tutor on campus to help him organize his classes (this might cost you a fee), is he taking too many classes? I understand his fear on taking a break from football, pretty much takes him out of the running for any potential football scholarship.

Best of luck








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