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Old 02-10-2011, 11:41 PM
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I am really stressing out over whether or not encourage my son to stick out college. He's a sophomore, living away from home, and has decided he doesn't want to pursue the degree he originally sought. That alone doesn't bother me, but he doesn't know what it is he wants to do instead. He struggles with the math requirements, and after having paid for him to take the same class twice, with the same dismal results, I think it's time to face reality.

My husband feels very strongly that our kids should all have college educations, and is willing to pay for them. We have one graduate and another college freshman. This middle boy has a learning disability, and while smart, doesn't seem up to the demands of college, even with some accommodations. He had a great first semester, lousy second semester, and so-so to start off this year. I did tell him that he needed to show us better results for us to agree to send him back next year, and he says he's taking that to heart. He likes the social life, but admits he hates many of the classes he has to take.

I honestly feel he would be better served by entering a technical program. He is excellent with his hands, likes working with tools, but he tells me he doesn't want a blue collar job, he wants to be a boss. My husband then tells him he needs to finish college for that.

Ideally we could just wait until the spring semester ends, and see how his grades are. But, housing is tight at his school, and we need to make a decision. He wants to live with a couple of friends off campus, but I am reluctant to sign a lease based on his grades and his lack of a major. It's not helping that my husband and I don't agree on this. He thinks I am giving up on this boy, but I'm not. I just don't see the point in investing a lot more money in what appears to be the wrong path.

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Old 02-11-2011, 12:13 AM
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I'm with your husband on this. He might not be performing perfectly, but college is where he wants to be. You already knew he had a learning disability. That means that his lack of stellar performance isn't due to not trying. He is worthy of investment, maybe even moreso than your children who don't have learning disabilities because they have more opportunities.

If he doesn't know what degree he wants to pursue in college, he's not going to know what skill he'd want to learn in a technical school either. I think you should help him figure out a college major that is most suited to his talents. There are many professional careers that are hands-on type of work where he could ultimately be a 'boss' too.

If he's not good at math, what's wrong with pursuing soft studies? Did you stear him away from the arts?

A degree is better than no degree. I often tell my children's friends that they should major in anything if they can't figure out what they want to do. They can always go back for their masters when they're older if they decide they want to go in a new direction. Heck, you can go to law school with almost any bachelors degree too. Don't discount a major as worthless. Encourage him to focus on anything at this point and stick with it.

My father always said that I was his most expensive child. This was after he had raised and educated all of his children. He wasn't being mean. The reality is some children cost more than other children. I wasn't more expensive because I was more challenged. I was more expensive because I was more driven. They paid for my education twice because they initially steered me into a direction I did not want to go. The same thing could happen to your son if you steer him towards technical school when it's not what he really wants to do.

If you and your husband were in agreement about this, I wouldn't encourage you to continue supporting this. But since you don't agree, I think it's best to error on the side of whatever it takes to help him complete his education. He's already almost done with two years. Sending him to a technical school won't save you much money at this point.

Last edited by Hopes; 02-11-2011 at 12:45 AM..
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:55 AM
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 34,677,768 times
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If your son is struggling with the math portion, then he might end up struggling worse in tech school. Like it or not, much of the technical trades involve a solid understanding of math. Also, tech school isn't just "working with your hands." Architectural drawing is a tech skill that doesn't involve physical labor. Moot point really, because it requires good math understanding.

I'd recommend he finish his second year and get his Associate's Degree. I would not pressure him to declare a major unless he finishes year 2 and is ready to begin year 3. That's when you have to actually declare it and take courses toward it.

I'd also recommend him going to a professional career counselor to get tested, to see where his skills, strengths, and interests meet. He may find this to be the most use, and is probably the best investment and most efficient tool in learning "what I want to be when I grow up."
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:03 AM
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I agree with the career counselor and testing to see what his real talents are and what careers fit his personality. A young friend did some extensive testing and found her best profession was epidimiologist as she liked statistics, tracking and recording, working with people, etc.

Another older friend found he should be a teacher working with children or the public at large (and he was an engineer). He is very happy at the children's museum.

It might lead your son in a new direction or make him feel more confident about his future work.
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:46 AM
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,437 posts, read 41,696,241 times
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Really, how many 19 year olds are sure what they want to do with their lives? I think it is very rare. I surely didn't and spent 2 years in college just having a good time. Then I went to work and it didn't take me long to figure out I needed to get my degree. So I worked and went to school part time for 5 years then went back full time and went right on thru to get my MBA.

Everybody wants to be a boss or at least on top.
I think a college education is essential today but it doesn't have to come right after high school. In fact for most people, a few years of work would be very beneficial.

I surely wouldn't keep him in college if he is not taking advantage of this opportunity or if he isn't sure how to proceed. I think that sets him up for more lack of self esteem and feelings of failure. Help him get into something- work , culinary school, technical school- anything which will help him discover what he is truly interested in and let him know you will continue his college at such time he feels more sure of his direction.
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:43 AM
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I'm sure his college has a math lab where he could work with a tutor (most do). Is he using the math lab? If he isn't, he needs to get there once a week. It also might benefit him to work with Reading and Study Skills tutors if the campus has them (and again, it should). Tell him to make sure he's taking advantage of his professors' office hours to seek help from them. Most of the time, we sit there and wait for students.

He's only in his second semester. The first year of college is a difficult adjustment for most freshman. Remember, it's not just a drastic shift in workload but also in living arrangements. Dorms are crowded and loud, and it's hard to get used to not living at home. Living off-campus with friends could be better or worse depending on the friends.

I would encourage your son to stick it out. It will get easier for him once he's out of the GER stage of his education. If he doesn't like his current major, he should switch. That's not something to be discouraged about. Plenty of students switch majors and many do so more than once.
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:45 AM
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You're better off allowing him to drop out and get a job that would suit his abilities.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:06 AM
Location: NC
1,696 posts, read 3,850,202 times
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College isnt for everyone.

Ideally, yes everyone should go, but even if he does decide not to finish, that doesnt mean hell never find a decent job. It will probably mean he has to work harder, longer, and start way down at the bottom.

The first year is tough- a lot of times even for kids who have no difficulties. Lack of structure, being away from home, living in the dorm.... Encourage him to finish out this year.

My sisters dad pulled her out of college after failing her sophmore year- TWICE. I think that was a good decision, but in her case, she was more interested in partying than looking at a book. She moved to greenville nc, and is working at a drug store and (with help from her dad) shares an apartment with a couple of roommates and is taking online courses at the community college and (last i heard) is hoping to transfer to UNC-Greenville after catching up on her course work. I hope it works for her.

Anyways, there are other options, community colleges, online courses offered through local colleges, combination of work and school... different paths work for different kids. Help your son find that path that will best work for HIM...
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:22 AM
1,302 posts, read 1,531,080 times
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Please read txtqueens posts and then decide whether college is a good idea vs "finding themselves" for a few years after high school.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:26 AM
20,793 posts, read 52,433,355 times
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If he wants to stay, let him stay. Does it really matter THAT much what his major is? If he isn't going into a highly technical field like engineering, getting a general major isn't really the end of the world.

If he has documented learning disabilities, he should contact the LD department at school and make sure he is working with them. Using the math tutoring resources is also a good idea.

Help him narrow down what he means by being a "boss". That is pretty vague. The boss of what?

Does he like computers? How about a business degree and opening a computer repair shop?
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