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How do I tell my parents that I failed two classes this semester?


Replies to: How do I tell my parents that I failed two classes this semester?

  • SurpheSurphe Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    edited January 2015
    @calmom‌ a bit of both, actually. My dad is an engineer, my mom was a business major but doesn't work, my paternal uncle is a doctor, my maternal uncle is an engineer. My mom doesn't really care what I go into as long as I'm successful, but you know how patriarchy works. I have pretty much been taught from an early age that anything that's not engineering or medical is no good. I was never really introduced to other majors because it has pretty much been set on me that I have to be a doctor or an engineer. The reason I went with computer engineering (I considered computer science as well but went with CpE in the end) is because it seemed like the one with the least human interaction that provides a decent job outlook and an above average salary.
    I don't know what other majors have to offer because I never concerned myself with them. I would love to switch to a major that better suits my abilities (especially writing. Not to make it sound cheesy, but I truly feel alive when writing) and provides a decent job outlook and salary, but I don't know what major that is or if it exists at all.. I guess I have to look at the various majors and see what each one requires and offers.

    @Much2learn‌ I think I'll do that tomorrow morning.. I'll say it to my mother and leave it to her to break it down to my father.. I guess it's better that way since he will have calmed down by the time he comes to visit.

    I honestly would rather not tell my parents about any of the anxiety stuff. I kept it in me for so long, I'm sure I can keep it in for a little longer. I just cannot imagine myself having that conversation with them, even over the phone. When we parted when they had to move, I didn't even hug them because I just don't know how to act in those situations and my anxiety doesn't make it easier. I really cannot imagine having that talk with them. I'll break down the news to my mom and leave it to her to break it down to my dad, and I'll try to deal with my anxiety on my own. I'll call my physician and ask him to send me to a therapist and try to work things out on my own without having them know about anything. That's probably wrong of me, but it's much more plausible in my head.

    Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! It really helped and cleared up some things in my head.
  • prospect1prospect1 Registered User Posts: 1,432 Senior Member
    Surphe, you are too young to realize that all of your problems are FIXABLE. Your grades are fixable. Your relationship with your parents is fixable. Even your anxiety is fixable - you may always feel some anxiety, but there are ways of coping with it, treating it, and even medicating it that you cannot fully access unless you are willing to come clean to the people in your who can help you the best.

    Your parents, on the other hand, are old enough to KNOW that these things are all fixable, and they are world class experts on the subject of YOU. If anyone can help you fix all of the problems in your life, it is them. Give them the chance to help you. You will be very surprised how freeing it will be for you to live a life of total honesty.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,555 Senior Member
    Surphe -- I hope you will go to the career center and maybe some campus job fairs to get a better idea of the very broad array of options you have. Writing in and of itself is not a high paid occupation, but the ability to write well is a huge asset in many professions, and there are many different types of jobs that good writers can get -- for example, technical writing or working as a copy editor for a publisher.

    Please understand that you simply will not be successful in any occupation that you don't have a natural aptitude and affinity for. You'd have a hard time getting hired because while you might have the degree, you'd be competing against others who would have stronger GPA's and better recommendations from profs or as a result of internships. When you did find work you'd face constant anxiety about your work performance.

    Please also understand that your college major does not have to be a direct path into a career -- that is, students who major in history aren't all planning to become historians. So it is o.k. to major in something that doesn't seem like it leads to a specific job.

    I'd encourage you to consider a writing-intensive major, since writing gives you such joy. You'll end up with a better GPA, and it is far less likely that you will face similar issues with depression in the future, because when you are feeling down you will look forward to your classes and assignments rather than finding yourself procrastinating over studying something that doesn't really appeal to you.

    I don't know your parents so I really can't advise what you can or should share. But courses like calculus and chemistry are known to be "weeder" courses -- classes where it is fairly common for students to recognize that they are in over their heads and reconsider their academic goals. So while your parents will be understandably disappointed, they must be aware that your struggles are with very difficult courses.

  • WalknOnEggShellsWalknOnEggShells Registered User Posts: 607 Member
    @Surphe, if you love writing and have trouble with Math, I would definitely change your major. Computer Engineering is definitely not the right major for you. Maybe CIS, but definitely not CS or Engineering.

    If you have a passion for computing, you might be able to combine the two by getting into writing documentation for computer software. Others might know more about the job prospects in that field, and whether you can get a job doing just documentation, or whether you'd have to do both documentation and software testing. This might not be the kind of writing you're talking about, but just thought I'd mention it, because I think there's demand for it.

    You could also major in English or History, which both involve a lot of writing. Many people go on to Law school after those degrees. I don't know if you have an interest in Law, but it sounds like you have a good memory if you can work your way through difficult Math courses using it. A good memory is something that will definitely help with Law.

    Law is not an area I know a whole lot about, but maybe others here can guide you if you do have an interest in it. It definitely requires logical skills, which overlap with Math, but I know lawyers who are not Math people.

    You should really try to do what you're passionate about, but doing a pre-Law type of major might make your parents happy, since they seem to be pushing you toward the professional fields.

    I would definitely talk to a therapist about your anxiety. That's way too much to hold inside.
  • cobratcobrat Registered User Posts: 12,285 Senior Member
    edited January 2015
    Maybe CIS, but definitely not CS or Engineering.

    Unless the CIS/MIS major has enough rigor and technical content to be near equivalent to CS/CE or the OP has demonstrated passion for computers outside of classes(i.e. loves tinkering with computers/software for hours for fun) and bring it out in a job interview, a CIS/MIS major is unlikely to be much better than any other degree. In many schools, such majors are mostly undergrad business courses with some IT related courses thrown in.

    In fact, I know of some hiring managers for IT departments even in non-technical companies who tend to be wary of MIS/CIS majors due to perceptions they don't have enough technical chops and entered the field for mercenary reasons rather than a genuine passion for delving deeply into computers and technology and leveraging that to facilitate the company's business/solve internal clients' technical issues.
    Law is not an area I know a whole lot about, but maybe others here can guide you if you do have an interest in it. It definitely requires logical skills, which overlap with Math, but I know lawyers who are not Math people.

    Some issues with the law school idea:

    1. The legal industry is in a state where there's still far too many lawyers and law school grads chasing too few lawyer jobs....especially ones which pay enough to defray substantial debts most law students incur.

    2. Law school is 3 years and tuition and fees averages around $150k for public and $200k+ for private law schools. While merit scholarships exist, they are usually reserved only for the top portion of the applicant pool in GPA/LSAT stats and don't usually cover full or even half the costs. Even if one gets a full merit scholarship, the ones from lower ranking law schools often attach GPA/class standing conditions and are designed in such a way half or more of the recipients end up losing those scholarship after 1L(first year of law school).

    3. Law...especially biglaw or many public interest law jobs in government(i.e. DOJ) or NGOs(i.e. ACLU) is an industry concerned with the pedigree/name of one's law school AND with the exception of the Top 3 law schools...one's academic standing in his/her law class. This has only gotten worse since the 2008 recession. Even students/recent grads from schools like Columbia Law aren't immune...especially if they end up in the bottom portion of their graduating class and/or don't interview well.

    4. Undergrad GPAs are an important factor in law school admissions and is calculated by the Law School Data Assembly Service. Their calculated GPA will include EVERY college course taken up until one's first Bachelor's degree and YOU ARE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT ALL COLLEGE TRANSCRIPTS for every college course taken...including DE classes taken during HS, summer courses, or failed courses even if one's college allows for a grade replacement upon passing on second attempt*.

    5. Law is one field where you will need to be working on teams with other attorneys and staff unless you decide to attempt to become a solo practitioner.

    The latter option is not only very hard in an increasingly competitive market, most lawyer friends have also stated it takes several years of working in a larger law firm gaining practical experience about the law business and a professional track record of actual cases before becoming a solo practitioner is remotely a viable option.

    * In the last case, BOTH the failed course and the passing grade on the second attempt are averaged in the LSDAS GPA calculation.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 20,555 Senior Member
    I think the problem is that the OP needs to move beyond thinking in terms of specific, named professions. (Doctor, Engineer, lawyer, etc.). That's only a very small sample of the jobs and careers that people have. There are many careers that don't require a specific degree in anything, and I also think that there may be many people who mistakenly feel locked into doing whatever they got their degree in. (I was in my mid 40's before I really figured out that the fact that I had a law degree did not mean that I had to spend the rest of my life working as a lawyer -- and I've now spent the last 20 years working at a job that includes a good deal of writing as well as CIS/type responsibilities ... none of which have anything to do with what I learned in school).

    I think it is a mistake for people to chastise OP for letting the social life get in the way of studies, given the history of social anxiety. OP's task over the next 4 years is self-development -- and certainly social skills are one part of that, and may be far more important as to employment and career opportunities in the long run than the degree title.

    Careers in the fields of law and medicine aren't limited to "doctor" and "lawyer" -- there is a lot of document processing that needs to go on, and a need for administrative support, data management, and people with lighter-end computer skills (such as being able to work with spreadsheets or do very basic-level database programming).

    I think that OP's social isolation might have been part of the problem in the past -- the OP was not really in a position to meet and talk to people with a wide range of career interests, which probably contributed to the very narrow perspective. I think OP might do best to enroll in a broad variety of courses for spring semester, with the idea of exploring other potential interests. It might also be worthwhile for Surphe to get involved with EC's that could also provide some opportunity to explore other interests -- for example, writing for CCNY publications, or getting involved in community service. (@Surphe: I know that anything involving working with & conversing with other people may be stressful for you -- but trust me, this is one thing that simply gets better with practice. I think you will probably always be a person who also needs alone time to regroup and recharge -- but one advantage of participating in organized group activities or projects is that it provides some structure that gives you a way to participate without being expected to entertain those around you with your witty conversation or whatever. )
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Registered User Posts: 3,195 Senior Member
    Am going to go against the grain and say don't go to campus health services. Here's why:

    You want to start sooner rather than later.

    These places are understaffed enough that services can be limited to a certain number of sessions for counseling, Fine for short term adjustment issues and garden variety college student stuff. Anxiety, however, can be a tough nut to crack. If you have insurance, find someone you can see for as long as it takes.

    If you want medication (not everyone does, and that's totally ok) also do not mess around with campus health. Find a psychiatrist or a mental health NP in private practice. They will treat more aggressively and have a better understanding of the range of meds and their side effects, The person in my life with an anxiety disorder is on medication number 4. You want the same provider managing your case, not a hodgepodge of whoever is available at campus health. Too many times I hear about kids leaving campus health with a prescription for Xanax prescribed the generalist PA. in the 10 minute appointment you're given, there simply isn,t enough time to really assess you for your medication needs.

    Tell your parents about the Fs. You've had several suggestions for doing that. Pick the one you like best. In the next breath tell them you need help for your anxiety. Ironically, many of the reasons you have for why you"can't" do or why this or that won't work is really the anxiety talking.
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom Registered User Posts: 8,895 Senior Member
    "Not to make it sound cheesy, but I truly feel alive when writing" - This may sound odd, but you may want to keep that as your passion. DS was a talented, passionate musician. But he didn't want that to be his major. It would have made it work, not fun.

    I definitely agree good writers have an advantage in very many fields. When DD worked on the campus IT help desk, her manager wrote her a special thank you note about her emails (high quality and quantity) .
  • IxnayBobIxnayBob Registered User Posts: 4,397 Senior Member
    edited January 2015
    @colorado_mom‌, My wife employs thousands of technologists (from programmers to architects to DBAs, etc.). She often comes home grumbling about how someone's poorly worded document led to an expensive and embarrassing misunderstanding. The misunderstandings can be technical or political or both.

    The ability to write well is not to be underestimated, even when it's ancillary to the formal job.
  • CountingDownCountingDown Registered User Posts: 13,408 Senior Member
    I worked at a major benefits consulting firm in the late 80s -- most of the folks were math majors, and then there were folks like me who were polisci/journalism types but who could handle enough of the math to get the job done. The ones who got promoted in my department were the ones with writing and communication skills. I spent a lot of time editing and teaching those math majors how to write!

    S1 has always been an excellent writer and it has served him well in his math/CS endeavors in HS, college and in the workforce.
  • Deuga7Deuga7 Registered User Posts: 64 Junior Member
    @surphe, I can understand not wanting to tell your parents. Considering your reluctance, I would start with the campus mental health folks. Make an appointment with one of their psychologists or social workers and describe to them what you've described here. They will drive the discovery process, realization, decisions and ultimately actions. I think a significant aspect would be to help you build up your self-esteem so you can begin to have the confidence to make your own decisions to run your life instead of running your life the way your dad wants you to run it.

    If you want to know what you want to major in and do with your working life, it's much easier if you can do so with a clear head that's free of anxiety. Otherwise you might make decisions for the wrong reasons.

    Lots people go through life never getting control of their anxiety issues. Realize that your life will be far, far more interesting and fun if you're not one of them. Now is an excellent time in your life to conquer this issue and put it behind you for the rest of your life.
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom Registered User Posts: 8,895 Senior Member
    OP - How is it going? These are tough times, but we are hoping you will get through it ok.
  • SurpheSurphe Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    edited January 2015
    I told my mom two days ago and I was surprised to see that she was okay with it. She simply said "just retake them next semester," and she was happy to hear about my As in Theater History and English.

    Today, I finally got the courage to tell my father, and he was really disappointed. I wanted to open up the entire major issue with him, but it didn't work out too well. He didn't yell or anything, but I could tell from his change in tone that he was disappointed. It's that calm-mad kind. He said "This is the first time I hear about an engineer failing a math class," (he didn't even care about chem or my As and B). I told him "I studied and I tried, but I couldn't get it." He said "Well you need to study more." I said "I just don't understand any of this. I don't get calculus. It doesn't play to my strengths, I'm better in other stuff." He said "So how did you get through calculus 1?" And I told him about how I memorized the things, he said "That won't work in calculus. You need to study." I said once more "I'm better at other things than math, I can easily get an A in the liberal arts classes with barely any studying." Right about then, I was getting ready to open up the major issue with him. But he said in a very rhetorical manner "So what do you want? You wanna get out of engineering?" It felt like the only acceptable answer I could say is "no," so that's what I said, and the conversation ended there. Then I just added that I'll study more next semester and get through it, and he said I should start by studying now since I have a break, so I said I will, and then we said goodbyes and that's about it.
    EDIT: He also added that he can help me study math a bit when he comes to visit.

    Now I got one thing out of the way. Next, I'll figure out my entire anxiety problem and the major dilemma I'm in. I called my physician to try and schedule an appointment with him so I can talk to him about it and have him transfer me to a therapist, but he's currently on vacation and should be returning on the 10th I believe. So I'll call him again then. I'll probably have to open up the major issue with my mom instead, since she's much more accepting and easier to deal with than my dad.
    But anyway, thanks for all the support! You have no idea how much it helped me and cleared things up in my head. I really appreciate it. Once again, thanks!
  • prospect1prospect1 Registered User Posts: 1,432 Senior Member
    Surphe, I AM IMPRESSED!! You really dove in and started taking care of business. One step at a time. Your life will be changing for the better before you know it.
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,774 Senior Member
    @surphe Great job. You got one issue out of the way and you are working through the next one. Congratulations!
This discussion has been closed.