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

SteveUNHparentSteveUNHparent Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
Hi All,

Can you weigh in on my question below?? My step-daughter is a college freshman at the University of New Hampshire. She made honor roll several times in HS but took more of an easier path than take AP and honors courses despite trying to encourage her. She is intelligent but I feel I need to encourage and push her this time since the cost is high for out-of-state tuition and she is not much of a go-getter or joiner (she refused to do Work/Study last semester). My biggest fear is that she will take a "fluff" major and just try and attempt to get by. I've joined the parent's association but want her to learn, grow, do well academically, and join student activities to build her resume. I also want to see our Return of Investment (ROI)!!

Financially, we have saved and could send her to school almost debt-free but I'd like to pose a question to you: I have always believed a student should have some "skin in the game" and carry some debt (but not bury them). I am trying to think "out-of-the-box" without putting too much pressure on her and also realize I have two young girls I need to send to college in 9 years. What do you think of the idea of holding a student to the amount of debt they will inherit based on performance?? For instance:

1. 4.0 GPA + join 2 activities (no debt incurred)
2. 3.0 GPA + join 1 activity ($10,000 debt incurred)
3. 2.5 GPA + join 1 activity ($15,000 debt incurred)
4. 2.0 GPA + no activities joined ($20,000 debt incurred)

Is this too much pressure or fair treatment? Any other ideas for setting expectations?? Thanks.


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

  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 Registered User Posts: 6,749 Senior Member
    The first thing that struck me reading your post is that you characterized one child as your step-daughter and the others as your two young girls, despite being on a totally anonymous forum. That said, perhaps we need more information. What is this SD majoring in? How did she do the first semester? How did her Mother feel about her effort/success this semester? Will you be imposing the same conditions on Cinderella's step-sisters?
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 33,923 Senior Member
    4.0 GPA is COMPLETELY unrealistic.
    You shouldn't force people to join activities. This isn't high school. If she wants to be involved, let her seek it out of genuine interest not because she's being forced to.

    Btw, if anything, you should tell her to get a job. Employers aren't going to give much of a hoot about activities, but work experience is important.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,882 Senior Member
    We made our kids responsible for their own spending money, books, and costs if they took any unfunded internships during the summers. That was some skin in the game. My youngest did not take a work/study job last year or this year because she felt she couldn't keep her grades up if she did. I didn't care, as long as she worked summers and covered those costs we had agreed to.

    And... activities are pretty much irrelevant in the success of a student post-college graduation. It isn't like high school where ECs count for a lot. Unless she is going to med school, then having some kind of medicine related activity is important (but that can be in the summer). You should encourage her to intern or get some relevant experience in the summers, at least starting after sophomore year (not all freshman can land a research or internship experience). So I see no reason for you to tie paying for her school to activity participation.

    Regarding the "fluff" major, my kids were told that they need to be self supporting when they graduate. Whatever they wanted to major in was fine, but I made it clear that moving back home without a job wasn't an option. Again... I didn't tie paying to major, just told them what their responsibility was. They stepped up to it.
  • DmitriRDmitriR Registered User Posts: 838 Member
    edited December 2014
    I agree with @romanigypsyeyes‌. Many college students (most?) usually find one thing and commit to it all the way. In college it's easy to sign up for a hundred clubs and wind up on a hundred mass-email lists, but this means less than nothing in terms of commitment and it doesn't really impress potential employers either. It's better to have one activity that she really cares about, whether it's a service fraternity or a sorority or volunteer work or some club or sport. If you do pressure her to do anything, it should be a job rather than a club.

    (You might get results if, instead of a loan, you just said that she had to earn her own spending money -- money for going out with friends and that sort of thing.)

    As far as GPA, in my opinion it's better to have a floor GPA (IE you have to make at least a 3.0) rather than have a scale like that. What's more important is choosing a meaningful course of study that challenges her; if she has to have a 3.5 or a 4.0, the pressure then is more about grubbing for grades and avoiding any class that might actually risk that (that is, avoiding anything that she might actually have to work hard at). That's probably not what you really want, especially since you have a concern that she might waste her time with a 'fluff' major.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,044 Senior Member
    I personnally think your plan isn't a good one. We told our kids they had to maintain a 3.0 GPA in college. they both had scholarships that required this GPA. We made it clear that if they lost the scholarships, they would be coming home to attend a local college...as commuting students.

    And we expected both of our kids to work 10 hours a week...or so. This money was for their discretionary spending...which we did not fund. Who currently pays for your step daughter's discretionary spending?

    On one hand you mention work study, but on the other you say that you have enough money to send this student to college debt free. Work study is a need based financial aid award. Did your step daughter receive a work study award as part of a need based financial aid package? If not, she is not eligible for work study jobs. But she certainly could look for a job that is NOT work study.

  • prospect1prospect1 Registered User Posts: 1,432 Senior Member
    I have found that the most powerful motivator for attaining a good gpa is for the college kid to go through the process of trying to find an internship or summer job in their field. They will see firsthand what it takes to be interesting in the job market, and they will see that a good gpa is the first barrier to break through. Freshmen are unlikely to land internships, but going through the process can be eye-opening.

    As noted by the poster above, work experience (even a menial job outside his/her field) is also one of the things that will make them attractive, and will give them something to talk about during the "important" interviews for real jobs/internships. Therefore, I think it is fine to encourage the student to get a job, although not at the expense of grades if that's an issue. A summer job, or a job during school breaks, is a good idea.

    Also as noted by the poster above, a 4.0 gpa just is not going to happen for the vast, vast, vast majority of college students. This isn't high school, courses are not weighted, curves are the norm (and can be harsh), and competition is fierce.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,044 Senior Member
    There is a parents association at UNH? What does it do?

    Please, try to let this young lady become an independent adult in her own fashion. Please try to let go. This is not high school. She will be fine.
  • SteveUNHparentSteveUNHparent Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thanks all. Interesting responses. Ok,agree, expectations too high for 4.0 and she has had her struggles in her first semester as an Undeclared. We are trying to show empathy with the work-study as we are not forcing this upon her but letting her know that she will pay on the back-end to make this up. I do think that activities are important (student orgs, fundraising, etc.) as hiring managers look for this type of activity once a grad is in in the working world. The more relevant the activity the better. I am a hiring manager myself and my counterparts feel the same way and want to see this engagement on campus as well as the internships. Definitely agree with the internship point.
  • dentmom4dentmom4 Registered User Posts: 1,216 Senior Member
    edited December 2014
    If you want a relationship with your step-D, this will be the quickest way to ruin it. There is nothing wrong with letting her have some skin in the game, but your proposal is very unrealistic.

    If you can be full pay for all 3 kids, so be it. Our 2 kids had nice merit scholarships that required a 2.5, so that was our basis. Lose the scholarship, you will commute to local directional. We are full pay, but our kids pay for all discretionary activities. They both got jobs on campus (not work-study) and in the summer to earn money. I also do not believe in requiring "activities"; she will probably find something that interests her, be it a sport, service activity, or just attending the many different activities offered at school (games, theater, music performances, movies). Give her some time to develop interests.

    You may want to suggest she develop a plan to graduate in 4 years or 8 semesters. Talk over her schedule, potential majors, career paths without being confrontational. She can visit the career center if she needs direction and help putting this together.
  • sseamomsseamom Registered User Posts: 4,905 Senior Member
    It's very common for a first-semester student to be undeclared. It's very common for a first year student to change majors. Are you planning to impose a major on her, or a major chosen from a list YOU'VE prepared? It's early-search older threads and you'll see that MANY students struggle and question their choices in their first semester. Give the girl a chance!

    I'd be very careful, as the "step" about treating your stepdaughter differently from your biokids. Having seen my own kids struggle with that, I can't overstate the damage that can do. And, you're being unrealistic about grades, about activities, about almost everything here, IMO. Your SD can have skin in the game through working a small number of hours during the school year or over the summers. But not everyone wants to be a joiner and it may not enhance her college experience to be forced to do so.

    It looks like you're determined to make her pay you back for a part of her education, even though you can afford for her not to. Was this discussed before she chose her college? Will her sisters be forced to do so as well? Are you just coming here to look for a way to force this on her? If she did not know this going in, I feel you are being very unfair. I feel you should really let her find her own wings instead of clipping ones you've designed on her. Expectations are one thing. Unrealistic expectations and adding them to a ball already in play is another altogether.
  • DmitriRDmitriR Registered User Posts: 838 Member
    The more relevant the activity the better. I am a hiring manager myself and my counterparts feel the same way and want to see this engagement on campus as well as the internships. Definitely agree with the internship point.

    I help out with on-campus recruitment for my firm. Engagement on campus is important but it's not measured in the number of activities the way you do on the original post. It's about the level of engagement rather than the quantity; joining two clubs is not really better than joining one, but being vice-president of a fraternity is more valuable than being tangentially involved in dozens of couples. I'm with you on encouraging her to get involved but I don't think it makes sense to measure her involvement in terms of number of activities.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,882 Senior Member
    I do think that activities are important (student orgs, fundraising, etc.) as hiring managers look for this type of activity once a grad is in in the working world.

    I am also a hiring manager, and honestly find it mostly irrelevant. Only students who don't have work experience, internships, research, etc. usually even put it on their resumes, and then it is mostly a space filler IMHO.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,044 Senior Member
    My daughter did NOT get involved in any activities during her first semester in college. She also was an undeclared freshman. She had a full course load and was working about 5 hours a week as well. As she put it...she was "learning college".

    Fast forward...she went on to get a great on campus job, was the statistician for two sports teams, played in the college orchestra, was involved in community outreach programs, and graduated with a double major.

    As noted above. We expected our kids to maintain a 3.0 GPA which is what the scholarships required. And we also funded four years of college...not more.

    Our kids knew we were very serious that if they lost their scholarships, they would be heading back to our town. That was sufficient motivation.

    In terms of getting a job...both worked. They would NOT have had a nickel of spendong money for discretionary purposes without jobs. That was sufficient motivation to get a job.

    I don't think your plan to tie debt to a certain GPA and activity count makes any sense at all.
  • brantlybrantly Registered User Posts: 3,738 Senior Member
    Terrible idea. Let her find her way. If you and her mother want her to contribute to her college education, make it a token flat amount not contigent on grades. And regarding the activities, let her make her own decisions. I am one who believes that just because we parents are paying tuition doesn't mean we have the right to control what they do on campus.
  • MichiganGeorgiaMichiganGeorgia Registered User Posts: 4,472 Senior Member
    How are you going to have her pay this debt? The only way I can see that is if you make her take out student loans along the way. Also how are you going to really know that whether she is in an activity or not? The only thing I could suggest is that you make a floor GPA. Say it's 3.0 or whatever you feel is realistic and if she doesn't keep that GPA then she has to take out a student loan next year to help cover the costs. And fluff major or not she needs to know that she will be supporting herself after college.
This discussion has been closed.