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Child failed out of college,first semester, HELP!!


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Anonymous January 2, 2009


My child has just failed his first semester in college, away from home. He has the ability, although mildly motivated. It seems like he skipped many classes and assignments. I had an incling there was a problem and visited the small school about a month and a half ago. Professors said my child missed many classes. My child also admits to socializing too much with his new freedom. It appears as if drigs/alcohol are not an issue.
I'm lost as what to do. We drove up today to empty his dorm room, it was so sad.
I work in a school and deal with these issues alot but when it becomes personal.I feel lost.
The plan is to maybe enroll him in a community college, bring up his grades, and he'd like very much to try to re-enter the college that dismissed him, or enroll him in a local branch of a larger university for now. This local branch is not a large school.
Any suggestions, please!!

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TeacherParent March 25, 2009


It sounds like you have a good plan in place. Community college is a great place to spend some time and take some courses as a bridge to getting back into a four year school. Your son is not the only person to flounder a bit in the freedom of college - I was admitted back for my second year of college only because the registrar made a mistake and didn't 'flag' my failing grades. By the time I returned in the fall, they felt it was too late to send me back home.I made it through the next three years - never a strong student - until I convinced a graduate school to take a chance on me where I finally redeemed myself by - consistently attending my classes.
When students ask me what single thing they can do to stay afloat or do well in college, I tell them just that - go to class. There's a great temptation to say "I'll cut today and use the time to catch up" but that's never the case. Going to class - and then actually listening while there - puts a student in the game.
If your son will do that - and I think he will now that's he out of the endless game of 'hall golf', lawn frisbee, late night parties and all the many fun distractions that college offers - he'll be fine. He'll find his footing and most other colleges these days are eager to accept students who've done well at community college. All colleges particularly love a "I've turned myself around" story especially when it's true - his old college would likely be flattered that he wants to return after they dismissed him and they'll have a special listening ear for a prodigal son wanting to return home.

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tryingtohelp August 15, 2009


OK, I'm really stuck, really!! My first plea for help was on Jan 2, here we are Aug. '08 and not much progress. My son as noted in my first message, Jan 2 failed out of his first semester in college, then attended our local community college, and failed, and also failed/withdrew from his two summer classes at the community college. He says he'd like a college degree but finds the academic part boring and unmotivating, even though he chose some of his classes. He's been in counseling and depression, drugs, or alcohol don't seem to be the culprit. One thing I have to point a finger to is possible ADHD which the physician feels is present. We have a meeting with a psychologist soon to discuss formal testing results. Maybe this is it??
We don't really argue at home, all is pretty much pleasant. My son texts me when he's coming home (never breaks curfew), tells me when he and his friends will be drinking (not frequent at all, and I don't condone it, as he's been told), and spends most but not all of his time home playing video games. maybe this is the problem? Hours can be spent playing these.He also works about 4-5 days per week and save most of his money.
He also CANNOT be woken up in the morning even with the use of a 133 decibel vibrating alarm clock. Goes to be around 12 but then plays another hand held video game till probably about 2:00. This is why he has sleep problems. We've had some career testing done which we will be hearing baout soon. All recent physicals and blood work indicate no problems.
Ok, the problem is we're afraid w/o college our son's opportunities will be greatly diminished. We know not all people need to go to college and we know that there are some successful people who did not go to college. My son is registered for two classes in the fall (because he's on academic probation) and will have no health insurance consequently. His academic record at the local community college shows no credits earned. He's more than capable but as far as I can tell from him, school is boring, so he cuts most of his classes and fails. Never tells us he's cutting. Once we find out we're so disappopinted and our hearts are broken. Again, besides school, he's really a pleasant and good kid, no other issues.
We're trying everything. Should we continue to push college, have him take a year off as he suggests (we think, knowing him that a year will turn into many years off, maybe never going to college.), have him pay for school/car and his health insurance as he will not be a full time student?
Who knows!
Any suggestion are welcomed.

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tryingtohelp August 15, 2009


OK, I'm really stuck, really!! My first plea for help was on Jan 2, here we are Aug. '08 and not much progress. My son as noted in my first message, Jan 2 failed out of his first semester in college, then attended our local community college, and failed, and also failed/withdrew from his two summer classes at the community college. He says he'd like a college degree but finds the academic part boring and unmotivating, even though he chose some of his classes. He's been in counseling and depression, drugs, or alcohol don't seem to be the culprit. One thing I have to point a finger to is possible ADHD which the physician feels is present. We have a meeting with a psychologist soon to discuss formal testing results. Maybe this is it??
We don't really argue at home, all is pretty much pleasant. My son texts me when he's coming home (never breaks curfew), tells me when he and his friends will be drinking (not frequent at all, and I don't condone it, as he's been told), and spends most but not all of his time home playing video games. maybe this is the problem? Hours can be spent playing these.He also works about 4-5 days per week and save most of his money.
He also CANNOT be woken up in the morning even with the use of a 133 decibel vibrating alarm clock. Goes to be around 12 but then plays another hand held video game till probably about 2:00. This is why he has sleep problems. We've had some career testing done which we will be hearing baout soon. All recent physicals and blood work indicate no problems.
Ok, the problem is we're afraid w/o college our son's opportunities will be greatly diminished. We know not all people need to go to college and we know that there are some successful people who did not go to college. My son is registered for two classes in the fall (because he's on academic probation) and will have no health insurance consequently. His academic record at the local community college shows no credits earned. He's more than capable but as far as I can tell from him, school is boring, so he cuts most of his classes and fails. Never tells us he's cutting. Once we find out we're so disappopinted and our hearts are broken. Again, besides school, he's really a pleasant and good kid, no other issues.
We're trying everything. Should we continue to push college, have him take a year off as he suggests (we think, knowing him that a year will turn into many years off, maybe never going to college.), have him pay for school/car and his health insurance as he will not be a full time student?
Who knows!
Any suggestion are welcomed.

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SoCalGal August 15, 2009


This will be difficult for you but the solution is simple:

You can give him the following choices:
1) he continues to live at home, goes to college and gets passing grades or
2) he moves out, supports himself and does as he wants.

He'll find his own path and passions. His opportunites will be what he makes of them. And it's his job now to do this.

I feel your pain. It's hard to stand by and let those you love make their own choices, even if they are detrimental choices. But, failure can be a learning process and you can be there when he decideds that college is the better choice.

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healthy11 August 15, 2009


I know there's some legislation regarding extending health insurance to unmarried kids up to age 25, regardless of their academic status, but I don't know if it applies in all states yet. You might check into it. (Do a google search for "health insurance age 25")

It is good that you're getting results of career testing soon, but I have to warn you that my teen has taken some "interest inventories" and the results have been puzzling at best, with an indication that he might do well in the military....My son has ADHD and DOESN'T wake up early, either, and he's always questioning authority, so I'm not quite sure what responses have gave to that point to that type of career. He has NEVER expressed any desire to go in the military. On the other hand, it also showed an interest in mechanical and engineering fields and law enforcement, which ARE things he's demonstrated curiosity about...

Based on what you're saying, ADHD might contribute to some of your son's difficulties, but I doubt it's the reason he's skipping all his classes and failing. My son did very well in his summer community college courses (better than during the regular year) and I'm sure it's in part because the other students aren't as motivated as at his very competitive 4-year university, but also he's got just one or two courses to keep track of (organization isn't one of his strong points) plus he's at home and under our more watchful parental guidance. My son may still not go to bed before 2 am, but he arranged to take only afternoon classes, and he worked part-time at a local movie theater, which is a great job for night-owls, by the way. I can't believe that if your son, even with ADHD and keeping late hours, couldn't pass a single class if he really wanted to. It sounds to me like your son may need a "written contract" to help emphasize the serious nature of what lies ahead...make it very clear that when he chooses to cut class, he's chosing to reduce the chance of getting a passing grade, and being able to remain under your roof with free "room and board."

Out of curiosity, has he considered a career in some sort of video game design or even as a technician, testing out gaming systems? My boss' son got a degree in some kind of video or graphic arts, and found a job doing quality control testing (playing games looking for "bugs" before they're released to the public) and he loves it....

I am worried about my son this coming term, because he begged us to let him get an apartment with some guys instead of stay in the dorms. I think it's a mistake, but my husband said he only seems to learn by doing, and the groundrules are similar to what SoCalGal stated: If he gets passing grades, we will pay for his accommodations. If he doesn't, then he will have to find his own way. I'm holding my breath.

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tryingtohelp September 27, 2009


Ok, I'm back and not sure how to feel or what to do. You've read my trials and tribulations about my son failing out of college and cutting his local community college classes. Well..... we tried again this fall, a whole year after earning no college credits. It was his choice to register for school, only two classes as he was on probation, but so capable. My son after two weeks of classes, just said that he couldn't sit in classes and was just not motivated to go to school. I guess this is better than his past behavior of my finding out that he wasn't doing well and skipping classes. He said he wanted to let me know now, rather than later. He did try, did some school work but he wants some time off. My fear is that he may never return to school. I know college isn't for all but it's so disappointing. Without a degree young people are at a distinct disadvantage in locating a decent job and the opportunities are limited.
He does work full-time now and will be contributing to his car insurance, car payments, and this semester's tuition. He's not defiant or unpleasant at all. He doesn't want to continue his counseling as he'd like to find his way on his own, for now.
So... any words of encouragement or hope?
I'm tired of all this.

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MagnetMom September 27, 2009


The words of hope I can offer is that maybe college isn't for him now, but from what you're saying he's holding his own in other important life skills--paying bills and holding down full time work. I went to a state school, where many kids were lured out of school by the appearance of easy, full-time work (when your expenses are low, practically anything seems better than in school). Eventually many kids did go back when they realized they did need a degree for advancement. When he does go back, he'll be more likely to know what he wants to do, and he'll want to stick with it on his terms.

On the other hand, there are many successful entrepreneur types that started college, and never finished. Truthfully, it'll be up to your son to decide if it's the school that's a unbearable or he just doesn't want to deal with it right now.

I know it's not exactly what you want to hear, but not every kid grows up in the clear linear pattern you expect, but he's shown a lot of growth in the last year.

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SoCalGal September 27, 2009


I know it will be hard for you but you have to step back and let him find his way -- there are times when we learn more from our failures than from our successes.

What's important now is that you prop him up -- he needs to understand just how much money it takes to support one person. If he lives at home and doesn't pay rent/utilities, all of his car payment & insurance, and food -- HE WILL NOT LEARN THE VALUE OF COLLEGE. The longer you help him out, the longer it will take for him to figure out WHY he NEEDS a college degree.

If he's not in college then he needs to be out on his own - have him over for dinner once a week and let him do his laundry at your house. Let him know that you love him but he can't live at home if he's not in school. Now that he's an adult, he can make his own decisions and live with the consequences.

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healthy11 September 27, 2009


(((hugs))) It's good to hear from you again, although I wish it was under better circumstances. I honestly do understand how disappointed you are feeling right now, and I wish I could offer you some helpful advice, but I have a feeling this is a situation that now rests solely in your son's hands. On the plus side, he really does seem to have gained some maturity, because he's recognized "early on" in the semester that he doesn't have the right mindset to stay in school, and he has a job and is taking some financial responsibility now. Those really are significant things. While you're afraid he won't ever return to college, I don't think any of us knows for sure what tomorrow (or next semester, or next year, or beyond) will bring. Perhaps he has to be in his job for awhile to realize that it's not really how he wants to spend the rest of his life. Perhaps he'll meet a "significant other" and realize that he needs a better income to live independently, instead of with parents. Perhaps he'll be one of the exceptions, with an entreprenurial spirit, and do fine on his own, without a degree. Raising kids is the most difficult job in the world, and they do have minds of their own. It's very difficult to "let go" after all the years of their youth when we did our best to shelter and protect them, but it's a necessary part of them growing up. No matter what, it's obvious you love your son a great deal, and even though you may be feeling like somehow you've failed, know that you have NOT. Please do keep your chin up, and keep in touch.

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tryingtohelp September 28, 2009


THANKS for all your responses. Even though I don't know any of you, I appreciate the time it took for you to answer my plea. Hugs back to you, Healthy 11. My partner and I do love our son, very much but want him to be successful and happy.
So, we feel we can't just let him drift but on the other hand we want to give him some space and time to work and think about things. I'm not sure if he'll be really thinking about it, maybe. Do we jump start our conversations in January again about what he'd like to do in the future; school, the military, some sort of job training? What if he doesn't know, do we let him just continue to drift with his job?
At what point do we gently push for him to start making a plan for his future? We just don't want him to drift for years. He's a good young man, causes us little difficulty, except typical teenage stuff.
I look forward to your feedback.
Thanks guys!!



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