Wedding Woes

New year...same Prudie

Dear Prudence,
My son is a sophomore at an elite liberal arts college. College started out well, but he has been on a downward trajectory caused mostly by lack of sleep, poor time management, and bad decision-making. (Drugs and alcohol don’t play into this.) He finished this semester with two incompletes. Although he says that he intends to make changes, my son has shown little to no inclination to do anything to improve. He performed superbly in a rigorous high school program, but he sees the students around him sleeping little and being completely overcommitted. My son requires more time to complete his assignments, needs plenty of sleep, and becomes anxious when the work piles up. He has the maturity of a middle-schooler and my wife and I are at our wit’s end. We don’t want to continue funding his college education until he decides to make some meaningful changes. Our son is adamantly opposed to taking a leave of absence, yet his performance has degenerated despite numerous warnings and ultimatums. We think he should get a job, perhaps take a class or two at a local college, and mature a bit before continuing his education. We don’t think he belongs at college, but we don’t think we can survive with a belligerent 19-year-old at home. What are your thoughts?

—To Yank from College or Not?

Re: New year...same Prudie

  • He has the maturity of a middle-schooler

    I wonder why they sent him to this elite school if that was the case. I get that he's very smart, but that's not enough when going away for school.

  • Honestly, I feel like these were probably helicopter parents and now that he's "an adult", they're like, Why aren't you leaving?!  Why can't you function?!"  This parent talks for him and is making observations about him.  "My son requires more time" sounds like, "I scheduled all of my son's day to make sure that he achieved A, B, C on Monday, D, E, F on Tuesday....etc".

    They all need therapy b/c they've got an adult middle schooler on their hands and it's their fault.  And quite frankly, they bear some damn responsibility for it.  They're going to have to start shoving him out, but it's seems pretty damn assholish to me to be like, 'Oh.  Sorry we didn't prepare you for life at all, have fun, buh-bye!"
  • He has the maturity of a middle-schooler

    I wonder why they sent him to this elite school if that was the case. I get that he's very smart, but that's not enough when going away for school.

    Easy. It's expected of him. It's the culture of the high school. It's what the high school sells

    I went to this kind of high school. It's NEVER a case of if you go to college, it's where. And the where better be Ivy League, a top tier tech institute or a spendy liberal arts institution, not the in-state option and certainly not cc.

    Classic privilege schooling. You know, two, three varsity sports, yearbook editor, school newspaper writer, volunteers at the soup kitchen, fundraises for LLS or Susan Komen or something, straight A's, interns at a doctors office, not because of any enrichment value, but it looks good on the college transcript. Which can only get maintained by bad habits, or cheating wherever you can.

    Agree with Pmeg about the getting therapy. And shattering that stupid HS paradigm that the world even cares, gets you into heaven, or whatever. Even if that means accepting some extent of "failure" and take the time off to think or function in the real world.
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  • Meg, you are right. I even see some of that in my middle school, but it's still about knowing your kid. How about going to a state university for a year, mature a bit and then you can go away if it works for you later. How many people did we know that hated being away from home, failed out or was majorly depressed and transferred to a school in their home town.

    I'm sure it would be hard to get the looks when you tell friends that Little Sam is staying home for school, but bump that. "it's the best decision for us and a look would shut that right down.

    Do you send him away knowing he is as mature as a 12 year old and deal with all of the bad decisions he will most likely make? I don't know.

  • I went to a state school so nothing too special... but lots of kids really struggled their freshmen year. More freedom then they know what to do with and don't prioritize properly. As I paid for my education I found a good balance of school and fun and unlike may of my friends found myself taking a easy class load my last semester as I had stayed ahead of where I needed to be to graduate on time.

    I met H my freshman year and he was one of those that struggled... he did horrifically his first year. We had loads of fun, but he couldn't balance it with school. At the end of freshmen year he was kicked out due to his GPA. We were still in a pretty early phase of our relationship and I didn't want a long distance relationship (nor someone that couldn't finish a year of college!) So I explained that if he wasn't coming back for sophomore year then I didn't think we should continue the relationship. He went to a CC near his house that summer and took 3 classes, got his GPA up enough to come back to school in the fall (unfortunately he lost his housing on campus and was off the hockey team that semester) but he worked to get that back. By senior year he had everything in order and we graduated together <3

    So basically, I feel 1 bad year can happen, but changes must be made if you really do want to turn it around!

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