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How Do I Motivate My Freshman Daughter?

PaJay1962PaJay1962 Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
edited October 2010 in Parents Forum
My daughter went to a private high school, did well in class - National Honor Society, etc. She is now a freshman at a small university - about 2500 students (not a party school either). In high school we were always getting updates from her after every test, and she did very well taking advanced classes all 4 years and ended with a 3.9 GPA. Since she has been at away at college, we'll ask her how classes are going, and we get the standart reply "Good", but never hear any test scores. According to her, she is always studying also. Last week I pulled up the cell phone usage and noticed that she is up till 1:30 every night texting people, and is texting in class. I told her that it was not showing respect to the professors by texting during class and to turn off the cell phone. I also said that it was impossible for her to get any studying done if she's texting a hundred times each night and is up till 1:30!

Well yesterday the mid-term report came home, and she has unsatisfactory ratings in 2 classes and one lab. (no grades are reported, only S or U). We were shocked - this is a kid that always did well in school and has been told about the importance of education and getting a good job, etc. her whole life. I pulled up the cell phone records, and she backed off of the texting in class a little, but still continues.

I talked/yelled at her last night telling her how upset we were about her grades and the texting is still continuing at night and in class. We asked her about what help she is getting, and she said that she hasn't met with her advisor at all, and has not sought help. (This school is set up for success as they have tutors etc. and she is not utilizing them)! We told her that this will be her one and only semester at school if she continues on the path that she is on right now, as we will not pay for her to go to college and do poorly. My wife and I are at wits end as it seems like we're talking to the wall.

We want her to succeed. My wife and I both are college graduates, so we know what it takes to succeed. Our daughter is very bright, and has proven it in school for 12 years. I feel that her problem is the phone texting and lack of studying seriously, and not getting any help! Maybe I'm wrong. Can anyone offer advice?

Thanks for any suggestions
Post edited by PaJay1962 on

Replies to: How Do I Motivate My Freshman Daughter?

  • qdogpaqdogpa - Posts: 2,417 Member
    The real issue here is her living on her own for the 1st time,freedom and no rules..We are in a similar situation,though D is doing well with grades...The new found freedoms,no curfews,loads of FREE time are not condusive for studying,lol...Just reinforce that "enjoying college" experiences are important,studying and getting good grades are MORE important,and without the good grades,she may not have the opportunity to enjoy campus life much longer :)

    Best of luck
  • takeitallintakeitallin Registered User Posts: 3,303 Senior Member
    No, you are not wrong. It is so hard to watch a situation like this and feel kind of helpless!

    For starters, I might get her a prepaid phone with a limited number or minutes and no texting. Tell her that her phone is a privilege and it is gone til she learns responsibility. No doubt that freshman year is a tough one for so many kids. There is no one telling her when she has to be in bed, what to eat, no curfew. It is common for a lot of kids to go "wild" for a while. I would definitely cut her a little slack for this 1st semester, and maybe even the 1st year. I know that I went from straight A's in HS to B's and C's my freshman year. After that I figured it all out and was fine.

    However, since this is costing you a lot of money, I would sit down with her and establish guidelines that she has to meet in order to stay at the school, including a minimum number of units, and minimum grades. Make sure she understands what the consequences for failing to meet those standards will be, including withdrawing from the school. In addition, I would insist that she meet with tutors and teachers in an effort to better her grades, and have her show you proof that she did. Tell her that you will continue to monitor her closely until she shows improvement. I know most colleges will not tell parents anything if the student is over 18 because of privacy issues. However, most have a release form that the student can sign giving the parent permission to get information. If it is available, insist that she give you the right to talk to counselors, and look at records. Tell her that this will be a year by year thing until she does better.

    Be very clear about your rules, but at the same time remember that she is probably over-whelmed with all of the freedom and is learning how to handle it. I would really try to help her get her grades up and not pull her if possible. At the same time don't expect A's this semester. You also might look at her number of units and the classes to see if maybe it is too much.

    Best of luck- a lot of us have been there and sympathize. One of mine did end up going back to a CC and then almost dropped out completely. He eventually went on to re-enroll and got almost straight A's from there on. He just needed some time to mature (while I did a lot of hair-pulling).
  • jinglejingle Registered User Posts: 1,198 Senior Member
    It sounds as if she's having trouble managing her new freedom. This is a pretty common problem with first-semester college freshmen. The work gets harder, and there's much less supervision than there was in hs. Many kids who've been successful in the past also really don't know how to retrieve themselves from a bad situation, because they have no experience with failure. So instead of admitting that they don't understand the material, asking for help, buckling down and studying, etc., they simply avoid dealing, which of course only makes things worse.

    Colleges vary in how proactive they are in dealing with this sort of thing. The best thing that could happen to your daughter would be if her advisor or dean called her in now, read her the riot act, helped her settle on an "action plan" for improving her performance. and then made sure she followed through. Unfortunately many schools wait until the end of the semester before taking action, and only then put the kid on academic probation. It might seem a little helicopter-y, but if you feel your daughter is not listening to you, you could possibly contact the dean or director of studies or whoever handles freshmen academics at your daughter's school, and communicate your concerns. I'm a university faculty member, and that's what I'd do if this were my kid.

    If your daughter really screws up the whole semester, then maybe the best thing would be for her to come home after the Christmas break and either get a job or go to community college until she is mature enough to manage on her own. But many, many students who seem to be lurching out of control in their first weeks of college manage to turn themselves around by wintertime.

    Meanwhile, are you paying her cell phone bill? Maybe it's time to get her a cheaper plan that won't permit unlimited texting. Or just take the thing away.
  • qdogpaqdogpa - Posts: 2,417 Member
    Taking away her cellphone is useless,and is likely NOT the reason for her grades..Threatening her with coming home is also counterproductive..Just explain what you see as problems and tell her you expect more..sheez,she is a 1st semester freshmen,(with NO problems/issues during HS)the posters who want drastic actions need to RELAX...
  • nngmmnngmm Registered User Posts: 5,708 Senior Member
    You can't micromanage your kid in college. Setting her bedtime is not your job any more. And 1:30 is not late for a college student.

    You can require a certain GPA in exchange for your financial support, though I'd be careful not setting the bar too high - you don't want her to just give up. You should also remember that midterm grades may sometimes depend on a single test score. For most of the kids college grading is an adjustment. No more "extra credits"...

    You should talk to her, and tell her that you are paying for this school partly because of the support it offers to students. If she is not going to utilize it, there is no reason to keep her there.
  • abasketabasket Registered User Posts: 16,666 Senior Member
    Ugh. Sometimes I totally HATE texting. I think it totally consumes some people. They will tell you it doesn't take up much time, but it DOES - the actual texting, the waiting back for a text, and simply occupies the mind and mind "time" too much!

    S's phone has been having trouble receiving texts this week - yesterday he was on the phone w/Verizon and they could not update the phone software remotely - I thought no big deal, S will be coming home in 48 hours for the weekend, he can take care of it at our store here - NO! Goodness, be without texting for 48 hours?! He found a ride to the Verizon store in his area and got it fixed. :)

    It might help to actually show her in writing - the amount of texts, phone calls, etc. - no way you look at it, hundreds of texts ARE a distraction!
  • MarilynMarilyn Registered User Posts: 2,871 Senior Member
    I suspect the excessive texting may be a symptom of a different issue. Many many bright high school students discover that college requires a different level of effort to achieve the same academic success, and that for the first time in their lives they may need assistance. It's very difficult for such students to admit to themselves that they need help. To some extent, obtaining help is a skill they never had to acquire. The same study habits that helped them soar in high school may not be working.

    Such students may find an activity that compensates for their new feelings of inadequacy. It might be partying, or gaming, or for your daughter texting. It could be that she isn't understanding some of the lectures and seeks escape in the comfort of texting. From your post it doesn't sound like she's going wild or skipping all classes, or even not trying if she really is trying to study. So although it's scary for a parent, it's not unusual and I suspect very familiar to the college.

    She really needs to start taking advantage of the assistance her college offers and understand that this is in no way a negative reflection on her. This could range from attending TA hours, to requesting tutoring, to joining study groups. Does the college have an academic assistance department, not necessarily related to her academic advisor? If so they could help her set up a plan to help her accept the assistance.

    You can help her understand that her new environment requires different kinds of efforts, and that it's completely acceptable to take advantage of assistance. Sometimes it just takes a while for these students to understand the new reality of their lives. From experience I can promise yelling and threatening won't work and only makes the child feel more inadequate. I also learned that it's impossible to motivate another person, but it is possible to help them find a way to motivate themselves. The most important thing at this point is to reassure her that her situation is not hopeless and that you believe she can succeed with effort. It sounds like her college will be very supportive and non-judgmental.
  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 Registered User Posts: 5,951 Senior Member
    I think we are going to see a time in the near future when excessive texting is labeled an addiction. In the meantime, it's going to mess up a lot of lives, along with excessive use of facebook/ computer games/ etc. A lot of us are having similar problems with our kids.
  • collegeshoppingcollegeshopping Registered User Posts: 1,935 Senior Member
    Since this is not the first post of this kind on these boards even over the last few days, it surprises no one that this happens. Many topics have been debated on these boards from everything to allowance, to cell phone usage, to parental access to grades, etc, and there are people all over the place. I guess what I don't get, is that there is NO ONE on these boards that would hire a contractor for their home, pay them $20K to do a major project and then say, "hey...do a great job and let us know when you are finished" You would make sure the product was being done well, on budget and on time. I understand letting young adults do their own thing, but the bottom line, and especially for parents footing the bill, college is a major project, an investment, a journey. Our kids understand that as long as we write the checks and believe in them enough to invest in them, that we should be able to monitor the returns. Not to yell or scold, but to guide and encourage them to either seek help or to celebrate their successes. Most of these stories always involve parents who are shocked at the mid term that things are bad. Things did not just get bad, they have been bad. I also understand that some professors don't even post the grades, but when parents ask about grades and get a "good" or an "ok" it should raise a red flag. If you hear "I rocked my chemistry test with a 98", then you are probably in the clear. I know many parents will probably flame this fire with words like helicopter, privacy and independence, but I am simply talking about open access, open communication and mutual respect between parent and student. NOW if your student is footing this bill 100% with their money or loans in their name only, it automatically becomes none of your business. I do believe with scholarship, the business is still yours because if they lose scholarship, the odds are the financial bag lands in your lap. JMO.
  • spideygirlspideygirl Registered User Posts: 3,352 Senior Member
    You have my sympathy. :(

    I was just like your daughter when I went away to school. I wish I could go back in time and change it (because I would love to learn for learning’s sake, and to have a high GPA just for my own pleasure). I was super motivated in high school, and went to a top 50 college which was less of a school that I could have attended. I was a smart kid and well prepared for freshman year. Somehow when I hit the campus, I just totally lost my mojo. Soooo many cute guys around. Loads of fun new friends. I was like..."Study???!"

    This is all cringe-worthy to me now. I was a first generation college student. Both of my parents came from poor backgrounds and were working in their teens to put food on their families' tables. They sacrificed everything to send us to competitive, private schools. It was a financial hardship. I knew my circumstances. I have NO IDEA what chip was missing in my brain that prevented me from using this knowledge. I had nothing to fall back on. No country club connections. No trust fund. Nada. Also, I was disappointing my parents. None of this information was affecting my obviously immature behavior. I am a good person. I was the one who took care of my mom at the end of her life (not my academically higher achieving siblings). However, during this slice of time, I was a moron. They say the brain is not fully developed until age 25. Maybe that was my problem?

    Now here is the other side of the story. I was gaining much needed social skills during all of this goofing off. I figured out how to be friends with all kinds of girls, and had my first boyfriend. I was developing, just not academically. Sadly, I did not turn it around. I graduated from this college, but with a lackluster GPA. I did end up with loads of smart, accomplished friends, and also a few excellent job offers with great companies. True, grad schools and jobs requiring high GPA's were not accessible (actually that isn't completely true, as the job I accepted made an exception for me).

    I ended up starting my own business and doing very well. My spouse, also a smart guy who had way too much fun in college, runs a successful business that he started. One of his friends, who barely got a diploma from our school, started and sold one of the big internet companies everyone has heard of. He is worth about a half a billion dollars. This kid was a riot in college - wrinkled clothes, messy hair, and I don't think he ever figured out how to use an alarm clock.

    Why do I tell you all of this? I guess so you can worry a little bit less. Keep trying to apply natural, reasonable consequences, but the main thing is for her to stay in school and finish. The only way she will get her academic mojo back is if she finds it herself. People with mediocre college grades can do amazing things. You just never know where she will end up.
  • fauvefauve Registered User Posts: 3,492 Senior Member
    Amazingly perceptive and well-written Spideygirl!
  • martina99martina99 Registered User Posts: 855 Member
    Lovely post, Spideygirl. I hope my quirky, smart but previously underachieving S will turn out just as well.

    To the OP: We sent S off with the expectation that he needed to maintain good grades, and get help when he needed it, or he would have to come home and go to community college. A bit harsh, perhaps, but for his first 3 years he was seriously underperforming in high school. A good senior year, but college is a whole new ball game.
  • SWTCATSWTCAT Registered User Posts: 854 Member
    Spideygirl...you give us hope :) Thanks!
  • denise515denise515 Registered User Posts: 335 Member
    Is there a new boyfriend behind all of this texting?

    The texting is a symptom of a larger problem.
  • 1down12go1down12go Registered User Posts: 307 Member
    I feel your pain. And agree with abasket and sylvan that excessive texting and social networking is a huge 'mind' distraction and incredibly time consuming (not to mention the probable cause of many ruined friendships/relationships.) What happened to the good old days of picking up the phone to communicate? Hang up...conversation OVER...move on with your life. It really bums me out when I see the kids staring down at their palms, walking through life in a daze and missing everything around them. Yes, texting may be a symptom of a bigger problem, but being 'plugged in' 24/7 certainly can't help.
This discussion has been closed.