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Son totally undecided on career- start at Comm. college?

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Replies to: Son totally undecided on career- start at Comm. college?

  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,233 Senior Member
    Your best bet would be to apply to the college of engineering at the state flagship and OOS mid sized or larger universities where you can get good financial aid, which he has the stats to do. It's easier to change from engineering to another major as ucbalumnus alluded to, so start there and don't declare a major. Typically you'll have one free elective per semester or quarter that can be used to try non-engineering/science courses. If your son gets AP credit, he can use those to take advanced course in a requirement or better yet fulfill that requirement and take another elective outside of engineering. I've seen kids with AP Chem credit take Organic Chemistry freshman year which would give a good idea on medicine.

    If your son figures out a major or direction and he's not happy there, he can try and transfer to better fits now that he knows his major.
  • NCalRentNCalRent Registered User Posts: 6,076 Senior Member
    Trust me - the kid doesn't understand the complexity of the process, how much lead time is required and the implications of getting shut out. At this point, it is simply too early to decide 'gap year'. I can't tell you how many time I have heard from my freshman son something like 'I thought you just signed up for college and picked a couple of classes, i had no idea there were so many options, deadlines, forms to fill out, etc."

    This may be unpopular but, since lots of publics don't require essays, I'd all but submit the aps for him. Not behind his back, I'd tell him, look, i think this is the best way to give us options come May. I plan to submit aps on your behalf to these schools and may need your help with transcript requests and a few other details. Would you like me to add any to the list? Perhaps 4 or 5 of varying make-up as undeclared that you are confident he'd get into. The point is mute if he doesn't apply anywhere. This isn't commuting to any post HS path. A gap year, your local CC, never going to college at all, or heading straight to a 4 year are all still possible. It is merely preserving options should he chose to exercise them.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 41,570 Senior Member
    (For what it's worth, I DO NOT recommend taking Organic chemistry freshman year. No better way to kill a GPA and discourage a student - that is partially that course's goal, after all. Better try that as a sophomore, once the college transition is done.)

    Perhaps your son will get more motivated if he sees what he can do, beside imagining a sort of high school bis?
    (Have you or your spouse been to college and perhaps could give him stories from then?)
    Can you show him the link for Computing and the arts at Yale; Engineering and Honors college at CU Boulder; the links for science conversation, composition BA and math at St Olaf; and music and something else at Vassar? If he has an idea of what to aim for perhaps he'll get more motivated?
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,735 Super Moderator
    Well, why does he want to take a gap year? All I hear is that the parents think it's a bad idea, but no indication of his wishes. Is he nervous about college? Does he just not want to go through the application process right now? Is he burned out from high school? Does he want to pursue some passion of his for a year before committing to a college? College isn't going anywhere, and there's no reason a bright and motivated student shouldn't take a year off. Given his grades and aptitude, it's unlikely that he'll do nothing afterwards.

    As was mentioned, there are MANY good careers for someone who is strong in math and science besides engineering. I wouldn't advise him to start in engineering just because it's easier to transfer out than in - it's also easier to tank your grades if you don't really want to be there. Instead, he's got a whole year - he should think on it some more and decide if it's something he wants. No, there are no assurances that he'll be able to transfer in later if he goes elsewhere, but there are no assurances in life anyway.

    But actually just looking at his test scores he actually looks like a well-rounded student who has strengths in writing, too. Don't discount that

    But why would he start at a community college? He'll have to take the same courses he'd have to take in a four-year college, only they'll be at a lower level at a college with fewer resources. He doesn't have to know what he wants to do to go to college.
  • dogladyJdogladyJ Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    He only thought he wanted to take a gap year because he doesn't want to go into college with absolutely no idea what he wants to major in. He does not want to possibly waste money taking classes for one major and then deciding on a different major. Kids hear so much about college debt that folks are burdened with. Juillet: You are right that he is strong in writing as well. Thanks for pointing that out! The only reason for starting out at a community college would be financial savings, but as I am learning here. CC may not be as much savings as I would think with differences in merit awards for freshman vs. transfer students. I'm hearing that I need to reassure my son that he doesn't have to know right now what he wants to do.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 41,570 Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Also, in most cases freshmen all take the same basic requirements - math, English Composition, a foreign language, a science with lab, a social science, an art class, plus 2-3 classes that are introductory to majors they might be interested in (that will serve as gen eds for other majors).
    They don't have to know till sophomore year.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,735 Super Moderator
    @dogladyJ, much is made of having to know, but actually in most college majors students can start in their sophomore year and not take any more classes than they would take if they knew their major freshman year. The exception would be engineering and some of the physical sciences with sequenced classes and cognate requirements, but even that's a pretty easy solution: if he thinks he's leaning towards the physical sciences, take some of the math and science requirements freshman year. If he changes his mind, they'll count towards gen eds or divisional requirements in the sciences, and they'll probably be useful later on anyway.

    So no, he doesn't need to know right now what he wants to do.
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