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Re: How do you motivate your kid in college?? (Debt incurred based on performance?)


Replies to: Re: How do you motivate your kid in college?? (Debt incurred based on performance?)

  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 21930 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 21,944 Senior Member
    I'm a very strict parent, but I have to be realistic that my kids are not me, and don't want exactly what I want. One child is a good student, and I have to tell her to back off a little. Her major has some semesters at 18 credits (suggested) but I think that is too much so told her to take 15. Her skin in the game is keeping her scholarships, and that is a lot of stress. It's not that I'd force her to come home if she loses them, it's that I'd have no choice because I couldn't afford the school without the scholarships. She cannot work because she's too busy.

    My other daughter will probably lose her scholarship because her gpa will fall below 3.0. I know she's doing her best, but if she loses it she'll either have to borrow that amount or work more. Threats won't help, never have. She'll do her best, and if she ends up having to leave that school, she'll be said and so will I. Could she get B's and A's if I ride her for 4 years, require her to check in with me on all assignments? I think so but that's not college. I want her to do her best, not my best.

    The joining activities won't achieve anything. If she doesn't want to join, what good will it do to have 'French Club' or 'Swing dance club' on her resume? No one cares. No one even cares about the high school ones. If you want her to have a stake in her college career, have her pay for a certain amount. You can always decide to pay those loans, but don't kid yourself that $15000 isn't a lot to pay back, for her or you.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 8419 replies305 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8,724 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    I think it's a recipe for driving a wedge between your wife's eldest daughter and (what I'm assuming are) her two youngest. I think you should do for your eldest daughter whatever you're prepared to do for her sisters. If you have the money to send the youngest two to college "almost debt-free," are you going to make them maintain an arbitrary combination of activities and GPA or will you help them start their young adult lives with no debt? I wouldn't make one pay if you're not going to make the others.

    If your daughter is struggling academically, you could always give her a minimum GPA (3.0 seems pretty standard) that she has to meet to stay at this school. If you just want her to get a job, tell her you and her mother will cover x amount of expenses and she has to cover anything over that. However, since you're apparently worried about grades, I wouldn't push her toward outside activities or work until her grades are stronger. Her education should be her priority.
    edited December 2014
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  • Deuga7Deuga7 63 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 64 Junior Member
    Steve, you're right, she should have some skin in the game. I can also appreciate the possibility that you might be having some buyers remorse because she's not trying to conquer the world, yet. However, I think you're approaching it backwards. The time to talk about the financial burden she will need to bear if she chooses this college or that college was before she chose UNH in the first place, not after she's been there for 1 semester. Am I understanding this correctly that you told her she can go to UNH with out of state tuition, then now that she's attending you want to impose financial sanctions based on performance? It seems to me you should have had this conversation a year ago. Did she realize you were thinking all this when she chose UNH? If she saw your post here a year ago would she have chosen it in the first place or would she have perhaps chosen a different college that was cheaper?

    It seems you probably need to have a nice chat with her to see what her goals are. What's motivating her in school at the moment? Is it classes, sororities, guys, or something else?
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76099 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,762 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    Agree with reply #18 that the time to talk about your parental contribution and any incentives was early in her senior year of high school, before she finalized her application list. Changing the terms of whatever parental contribution you previously agreed to, if no significant adverse financial issues occurred in your household, will probably leave a bad taste lingering in your relationship with her going forward.

    Having students have "skin in the game" should not mean forcing debt on them, even if they choose a low cost school. It can mean giving them a budget limit. If the college costs slightly more than the budget, they can work and/or take direct loans up to a limited amount over. But if they choose a school that is under the budget limit (low price or after scholarships and financial aid grants), then their reward for frugality would be no student loans and no requirement to work to afford school (although working in summers or school year after first semester may be desirable for experience).
    edited December 2014
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  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 14270 replies297 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 14,567 Senior Member
    First of all, l don't know how you can legally impose debt on someone else.

    Second of all, most people don't grasp the gravity of future debt, so I'm skeptical of its utility as a motivator. Seems to me that w a low GPA, she will be in the worst possible position for getting a job to pay off the debt.

    Are u going to impose the same conditions on the other 2 daughters, or just the stepdaughter? Isn't this going to drive a wedge btwn u & your wife?
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  • CheeringsectionCheeringsection 2335 replies70 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,405 Senior Member
    I think having skin in the game is an excellent idea but I would do it a little differently. If she qualifies for subsidized loans have her take out the loan at the beginning of each year with the understanding that with "satisfactory progress" towards her degree (chose as few or many as you like: minimum GPA, certain # gen eds fulfilled, degree in 4 years, etc) you will pay off those loans. The key is that you define an attainable goal that she can choose to meet. The degree she obtains will be relevant to paying those loans off so she'll have to consider the employment possibilities when she defines her "minimum effort". It might sound like tough love to some but college students are adults and should be required to make adult choices. Of course, this is most effective if it is family policy. Maybe a family meeting is in order.
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  • compmomcompmom 10579 replies76 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 10,655 Senior Member
    To be frank, I found the original post a little horrifying. I guess that's why some posters are referencing fairy tales. There are many different philosophies of parenting expressed on this board and they can all be valid. I think we all try not to judge. But the methods suggested in the original post could be not only ineffective, but destructive, in my personal opinioin.

    Some colleges don't want students to work freshman year: they even give extra financial aid to help students avoid work while starting school (including Ivy League). Jumping into activities freshman year is also discouraged. Students need to get their bearing, get a feel for the workload, how to manage time, and generally a lot of psychic energy goes into adjusting to being there in the first place.

    I think external motivators are inappropriate at this point in your stepdaughter's development. They may still work in the short term but in the long term, motivation needs to come from inside the student, especially at this age. Your scheme is an attempt to control, rather than motivate. Tell her you trust her to do her best and hope she finds some area of interest and leave it at that. You don't even need to know her grades unless they somehow jeopardize her attendance or scholarships.

    Try to relax. She went through high school on her own terms, which may be more relaxed than yours. But she did well enough to get into UNH, which is a good school. She will figure out a major and get adequate grades, perhaps better than adequate if a fire gets lit. But no fires will get lit if you insist on owning her like this.

    Our relationships with our kids are more important than getting a 3.7 instead of a 3.4.

    It's a tough world out there. I read that 82% of college grads live at home after graduation. Many have debt, and there is now almost a glut of BA's on the market. But it is still true that a freshman should be investing most of her energy on adjusting to campus and exploring areas of study. Leave her to it, and she will find a major, find activities, and no doubt evolve toward employment of some sort through internships and so on.

    Let it happen. It is up to her, not you.
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  • SlackerMomMDSlackerMomMD 3085 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,094 Senior Member
    That's quite the punitive approach you've devised and it may backfire. You don't want her to settle on a "fluff" major but by tying the threat of loans (and amount) to her grades and activity level, of course she's going to pick the fluffiest major to meet those requirements.

    Maybe she needs to "fail" a bit before figuring things out. Is this her first semester? Then see how next semester goes.
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  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl 2844 replies106 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,950 Senior Member
    I like "cheeringsections" idea. I think its really important for students to have "skin the in game" regardless of whether they parents can afford to pay for everything. I also think its important that new students get a chance to feel out whether they can keep their grades up and work at the same time. BUT, there is nothing stopping a student from working the three months of no classes. I'm a bit bewildered when I read posts about kids that don't have any savings for college, have they not worked every summer? My kids were expected to work as soon as they could get permits at age 14. Both had their allowance shut off on their 14th birthdays. So, yes, my solution would be for the daughter to be earning enough during the summer months to finance her fun during the school months and to also take out some loans (doesn't have to be the total max - how about $2000/year) on the assumption that parents will pick up that tab if she follows through. Again, I would not impose a 4.0, but instead, with each semester that she passes parents should pick up that loan amount. If you do it semester by semester she has the ability to fall and pick herself back up again.
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  • emilybeeemilybee 13127 replies35 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 13,162 Senior Member
    I don't believe in telling kid he has to maintain a certain GPA - but I am an outlier on CC on this. I don't even ask my S what his grades are and I certainly wouldn't make him have any EC's in college. Wanting to do well in college and participating in other activities has to be something he wants to do for himself.

    My S works summers and breaks, plus has an on campus job (not work study) to pay for his books, gas, entertainment, etc. He does it because he wants to have enough spending money to do the things he wants.
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  • blossomblossom 9591 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9,600 Senior Member
    Or a "hard" major senior year when you realize that being a C minus student in chemistry might not have been your best idea.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 32858 replies3603 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 36,461 Super Moderator
    I agree with @thumper1 from post #5 - GPA floor with the potential to be pulled home if grades aren't good. I also agree with posters about work being more important than activities in being hired. I've seen studies that say work study students actually have higher GPAs than other students.
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  • rhandcorhandco 4237 replies55 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,292 Senior Member
    The scale is pretty odd. 4.0 is almost unreachable for most kids, at any school. Activities are not forced upon people.

    But the comment " First of all, l don't know how you can legally impose debt on someone else." I do not know exactly what that means. In our case, my son was offered Federal loans and we have decided as a family that it would be better for him to take them than not take them. We aren't forcing him to take loans, we are forcing him to take loans if he wants to attend a college which is really expensive.

    If you didn't originally file FA documents, UNH requires only FAFSA:

    I don't see anything about not being able to file the FAFSA for sophomore year if a student didn't file freshman year, for UNH.

    I didn't do work study first semester, and many people do not. The only ones I did know who did work study first semester were very poor and could not attend without it.

    I'm worried that you are doing what many parents do, that is, equating intelligence with being able to succeed immediately in an endeavor. One of my doctors has a son who was very bright in HS, got into several Ivies. He instead went to our state school, because he said "he wanted to have fun in college and not be challenged too much". She let him go, and find his own way. This year he graduated from an Ivy, after going to the state school and realizing it was not right for him, he transferred to the Ivy. He is 25, but he did find his way and is doing great.

    Some kids are not ready for college at 18, and some need time to adjust. If she did not work in HS and now is expected to work, that can be an adjustment.

    (and I agree with the comments about the parents' association at UNH - UNH has a parents' association? But hey, there it is: http://www.unh.edu/parents/ I feel like they are setting a pretty high bar for how involved a freshman should be!)

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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76099 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,762 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    ludwig9 wrote:
    C-minus engineering students will still land a decent job.

    C-minus (1.7 GPA) would make it hard to avoid probation or dismissal at many schools... and a C-minus engineering student would have a harder time finding a job than a B or A engineering student.
    ludwig9 wrote:
    Reality is you have very little if any control over what they do once they fly the coop.

    Actually, parents still have absolute veto power over the student's college choices if their money or financial aid form cooperation is needed. Of course, not all possible exercises of such power are considered desirable by all posters here.
    edited December 2014
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