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Non-starter student help


Replies to: Non-starter student help

  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 12,196 Forum Champion
    edited January 9
    First of all, she is not behind.

    I have two girls. The first, i said "go make a college list and we will visit them over spring break" and she did.

    The youngest one there was procrastination, whining...one day I took her to the library and said we are going to look at colleges. We did...but at some point she said "Mom, you like to research on the internet. Could you help me find some colleges?"

    So first I asked her what she wanted in a college.
    She wanted to be no more than 2 hours away, but not 15 min away.
    She did not want to be in a city.
    She did not want to be the best student at the college nor overly challenged.

    I wanted it to be affordable as we don't qualify for need based aid

    I took her to visit our Big State U, and a littler State College. I thought she would like the State college.
    That gave her an idea of what she did and didn't like in a college.

    So then i helped her look within the radius at colleges she would have a chance at merit scholarships (or they would just be affordable sticker price).

    If you want, you could help her do the work. Go to the closest college to you and see what she likes/doesn't like about it. She may have never been to a college. She may be recovering from whatever caused you to be her guardian. She may have no idea what to do.

    Actually, she should just really get started with college stuff now. Sign her up for the SAT.
    Start working on college ideas with the idea of visiting over spring break.

    Also get on this thread:

    Also learn about financial aid while having a guardian:
    If the child has the legal guardian appointed by a court, then they are an independent student and can get much aid.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,622 Senior Member
    She's not behind academically. But how many kids do you know who are uprooted from their homes? And to go live with relatives who have toddlers, no experience with teen kids yet? Our own kids are in their same stable homes.

    Gently meant, I think OP is trying to approach this based on what she thinks parenting a teen is meant to be, as if everything is normal. To do what all we parents do, to get our kids to college. It's not normal, though. I feel OP needs to think with her heart, first, listen to the signals, make sure she's offering the "right" support, not pressing. It's only been since the holidays. One month or less.

    The difference is if, say, her niece's parents are temporarily working abroad or in the military. Then she's acting per the parent wishes.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 73,188 Senior Member
    edited January 9
    We have taken guardianship of our niece. 17 year old

    Full stop here. If this was a necessary action, then really, pushing for college scholarships and tippy top grades are probably the least of her concerns.

    College will be there at any point. There is a college for every student. Some kids find great careers that don’t require a college education, believe it or not. Some kids take longer to travel this journey,

    If you have taken over guardianship, there surely is a good reason for this to have happened, and likely it’s not a cheery one.

    Is this a court ordered guardianship, or an unofficial agreement to care for this niece for the time being.
  • yourmommayourmomma Registered User Posts: 1,044 Senior Member
    She has not identified a future career.
    Good luck with that at 17.

    Let her find her way. Your job is to keep presenting her with opportunities and advice/guidance.
  • atomomatomom Registered User Posts: 4,579 Senior Member
    Keeping her grades up this semester and SAT/ACT test prep should be top priorities--after dealing with any issues that brought her to your home. Get her a prep book and do practice tests at home before she takes a real test. ( I do not advise taking SAT/ACT without prep for "baseline scores" as many school counselors might recommend. If she hasn't prepared for tests, prep first. Test in late spring through early fall. )
    Depending on her/your family situation, she may want to stay close to home. Look at local colleges first. My sister-in-law recently took custody of two nieces after their junior year when their single mother died unexpectedly. One was an excellent student and ended up with a full ride at a small LAC in their home city. The other is living with another relative and attending a nearby community college.
    As others have said, research financial aid for her specific situation. You may have to make phone calls to college FA offices because of her unique situation.
    Most students don't have career plans at this age. She should be getting a feeling about what subjects interest her more than others, which subjects she is best at, etc. Her high school or local community college probably offers an interest/aptitude test which might help give her some direction.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,038 Senior Member
    She's only a junior. My kids didn't even think about college until spring of junior year. And they ended up at top colleges. It's fine to wait until summer before junior year or even later if that is what suits her emotional timetable. It is also fine to do community college and then transfer, as many are doing these days for financial reasons.

    Given the situation, I think you might need to change your priorities. Settling in with a new family for a 17 year old takes huge psychic energy. I think your expectations are a bit high right now. There is just a little judgment coming through in your post.

    Get a copy of "The Myth of Laziness." (maybe also be on the lookout for any need for evaluation.) I found it helpful.

    Or maybe go talk to a counselor to help YOU through this transition. It must be very hard for you and your family and it is apparent you take the responsibility very seriously.

    Is she seeing someone?

    Just know for now that nothing needs to be done urgently and you can relax and learn to live together.

    Whatever the reason, you are a wonderful person to take a niece in.
  • MusakParentMusakParent Registered User Posts: 736 Member
    You should be applauded for taking in your 17 year old niece while you are parenting toddlers. But I totally agree to focus on her mental health and well being for now. If she's still doing well in school and staying on track with that, she is doing better than many 17 year olds. A gap year (or more) is completely fine if she needs it. I would not push AT ALL. Is she receiving counseling/therapy? Many many teens go to college with an undeclared major. Or swear they have a major and change in anyway.

    I have a senior with competitive stats that is unlikely to go to a competitive college for reasons both financial and in terms of personality. Don't think that needs to be a thing that happens to be a happy, successful, productive adult. She will find her wheels when she is ready. Teens change so much even from month to month. Focusing on her emotional health now will pay out in dividends later.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,949 Senior Member
    edited January 9
    Seems like the only thing for the rest of this school year, beside school, for her to do in terms of college planning is to take the SAT and/or ACT. Even that is not strictly necessary this school year, but is desirable in terms having time for a retake in senior year if desired and getting an earlier idea of which colleges are realistic for admissions and scholarships.

    As the guardians, you can look into the cost and financial aid situation.

    No need to push hard on the college front now.
  • suzy100suzy100 Registered User Posts: 5,494 Senior Member
    I think we don’t have enough info on why the guardianship to make good recommendations here. If the OP is willing to share that info it would be helpful but I can understand being uncomfortable doing that.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 19,938 Senior Member
    I think your only responsibility is to make sure she does everything to preserve opportunities. Take the SAT and ACT. Make sure she completes all requirements to get into a state school or to get a state scholarship like the A-G requirements in California or qualifying for Bright Futures or the HOPE in Georgia or Tennessee. Keep good records for things like community service hours, the names and contact info for teachers who could write letters of recommendation if she decides not to go to college right out of high school. She may already have attended 2 or more high schools, and having a notebook of things she did while in high school makes filling out those applications easier. If she takes a gap year (or two) having all the info really helps. Memories fade fast.

    If your guardianship is an informal one (if the state didn't take custody of your niece), you might want to look into making it a formal one through the state. When it comes time to fill out financial aid forms, she might be in a better position to get financial aid if she is 'independent' and not dependent. If she's still a dependent, she'd have to use one of her parents' financial information and of course find that parent. That may be hard. Having the state take legal custody often has to be done before the child turns 18.
  • mommdcmommdc Registered User Posts: 10,754 Senior Member
    This is a new and difficult situation for all of you, but especially for her.

    She might be depressed, anxious, overwhelmed by her new life circumstances.

    Is she attending a new school as well?

    Can you offer her the opportunity to see a therapist to work through this transition with her?

    Encourage her to join activities at school to make new friends, something she enjoys, sports, drama, music, debate, etc.

    Approach test prep and college planning slowly. Her school might offer a SAT prep class. Or she can do some free practice tests from the Collegeboard website.

    She can sign up for May or June and August SAT, giving her more time to adjust to her new life and school.

    I would not send her away to camp unless she asks to go to one. I think more time with the family will help her to feel part of your family quicker.

    In the spring you can tour a few colleges nearby. Public, private.

    She doesn't have to go to competitive schools. The goal is for her to be successful and get a degree, if that's what she wants.

    She doesn't have to know what she wants to be yet.

    Right now, something happened that pulled the rug out from under her, her life has drastically changed. Give her time to deal with this.

  • iwantalltheinfoiwantalltheinfo Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
    So much good advice here. I hope that you are encouraged by knowing that there is a big community rooting for you and your niece during this process.

    As a parent of a current HS senior who had to be dragged into the college process late junior year and then had all her applications completed by Dec 1 of senior year, I second the advice not to worry if she is not interested yet. And my very smart and talented senior has no idea of what she wants to do and is applying as "undecided" to all her colleges. So no need for you to stress over that.

    Tasks for you in the college process:
    1. Do your homework about the legal status of your guardianship and how it will affect financial aid applications and state residency (if your niece needed to change states when she moved in with you)
    2. Have a low-key conversation about what she may be looking for in a college--things like:
    geographic location (does she want to be close enough to you for weekend visits if you will continue to be her home base after HS? does weather/politics/transportation issues affect her choices?)
    setting--city/town/rural (sounds like she already has a view on that)
    size of school--large, medium, small
    big sports team as a campus focus or avoiding that
    any particular interest she would want to have access to (sports/arts/clubs/outdoorsy activities/science/tech)
    3. You can take the info from the above conversation and make a list of possible colleges for her to check out. This is what I did when my child told me that the search was too overwhelming. It gave her a starting point, and she applied to many of the schools I suggested, dismissed others and added a few schools of her own. Stress that she is in charge, but that this is a way for her to start the process.
    4. Research gap year options AND whether colleges on your list include the option for deferred enrollment. Just so you will have that info when the time comes. Put it away until needed.
    5. She has a good GPA and will get in somewhere. Don't stress about top schools--there are plenty of other choices out there and lots of resources to help you find them, including here on CC. Your state college system might be a good place to start.

    Tasks for her in the college search right now:
    Figure out when she will take SAT or ACT.
    Keep doing well in school.
    Settle into her new home.

    Best of luck to all of you. Things will turn out fine.
  • GloriaVaughnGloriaVaughn Registered User Posts: 473 Member
    You have to put yourself in her shoes. Her world had been turned inside out and upside down. Everything she has known in the past is gone. Even the simple things like mac and cheese for dinner on Wednesday and Joey in math class is a jerk and always has been, is gone. Everything is different. I second getting her into therapy and finding a good fit with a therapist. Having someone to talk to about all the changes and to reassure her is what she needs right now. She needs to adjust to her new world and find the new stable items.
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