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Non-starter student help

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Replies to: Non-starter student help

  • TS0104TS0104 Registered User Posts: 559 Member
    OP, thank you for being there for a teen in need! And taking it on with two toddlers...that's a lot. You are doing a great thing. Parenting teens is hard (so are toddlers), and you've been thrown into the fire so to speak without the tween years to build up your patience!

    Here's some perspective: One year ago, it sounds like my son was exactly the same as your niece: "17 year old. Currently good grades, 3.7 gpa.. Taking dual enrollment. She is a Junior. Here is the problem. She lacks initiative, a non-starter. All school related stuff we have to push and nudge. Smart kid but seemingly "lazy" with the road to college process." This was my son. While I slowly had weaned away from micromanaging stuff do with high school, he completely lacked initiative in the college process. He also had to be dragged to get his drivers' license, for example. Not super high on initiative until he feels he "has to."

    So now he is in his senior year, has multiple offers, with merit, from great schools. Harvard? No. Great schools with great reputations that fit him? Yes. Your niece is not behind and still has plenty of time for a college search. Don't get overwhelmed with the posts on CC with the boatloads of extracurriculars, leadership, full rides, tippy top test scores, 4.8 GPAs etc. etc.

    How did my son get here? I took him to a couple of local schools so he could think about questions like big/small/medium, city/rural, geography, stuff like that. I asked him to start thinking about what he would like to study. Over time he came up with two ideas from his high school classes (Psychology, Political Science). Since those are offered everywhere, this was not a limiting factor. I started building a list of LACs, since I think that would fit his very vague major/career ideas, and also looked at schools ranked in these majors (later, those rankings have turned out not to matter, but it led me to some schools to put on a list to start looking into). He took the ACT and we got a local tutor. We did more visits over spring break and his ideas started to become more clear about the type of school and fit. Another visit over the summer, and come senior fall he had a list of about 10 schools to apply to, with me doing a lot of the research, including the finances, and handing it to him to make decisions on where to visit and apply. Yes I had to "nag" during app season when deadlines were approaching. They all got done and submitted on time. He ended up in a great position from starting where your niece was (academically, I don't mean to discount what has happened personally). Try not to be overly worried. Much as we would like them to, these mini-adults do NOT have our priority system or work ethic.
  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 Registered User Posts: 1,015 Senior Member
    Could it be possible... from your niece's point of view, she may be reluctant to delve into college research out of financial embarrassment? She probably has no expectation you're paying for her tuition, but without guidance, she doesn't know how on earth she can pay anything for it either. She knows nothing about how financial aid works. Even researching colleges is completely new to her (as it is to most 17-year-olds). So like a deer in the headlights, she freezes. Avoidance is her comfortable coping mechanism.

    I would talk finances with her. Stress that you love her, she is part of your family now, and part of that is setting her up for a brighter future, and you are going to learn and explore the possibilities, and together make good things happen for her. Remind her that you'll have her back.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 72,950 Senior Member
    I would talk finances with her.

    Though I would suggest that the OP do the following first before talking to the student about college finances:

    a. Figure out what financial aid situation the student will be applying for financial aid as (e.g. independent or dependent student, etc.).
    b. Figure out how much the OP can comfortably afford to contribute if the OP wants to contribute to her college costs. This may require some financial planning that the OP has not yet done.
    c. Run some net price calculators on some colleges of possible interest (e.g. state flagship, local state university, private colleges commonly of interest to students in the area, etc.). But be aware that some colleges' net price calculators may be less accurate for unusual situations.

    The above can be done in the background without having to talk to the student about college at all. But then the OP will be ready to have the college finance discussion when the student is ready to start talking about college thinking about making an application list.
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom Registered User Posts: 1,774 Senior Member
    The Questbridge program may be of use in this case.
  • shawbridgeshawbridge Registered User Posts: 5,587 Senior Member
    I don't think we know enough about your niece's situation -- e.g., why the guardianship, psychological state, legal issues etc. -- to offer you specific advice, though I will say that the posters here have offered very good advice.

    Some general advice. I have seen my job as a parent and would see my job as a guardian as helping prepare my children to lead fulfilling, successful adult lives. As such, I have taken the long view. There is no reason a HS junior should know what she wants to do for a career -- in fact, as I tell my kids, the two jobs I have had for the longest periods of my adult career didn't exist when I was in grad school, let alone in college. I think that the evolution of jobs is faster now than it was then, so the lesson is to learn skills and ways of thinking that they can continue to apply as the world changes and that college should be about learning think (and communicate) clearly and how to learn on one's own.

    Assuming you share that goal for your niece, I think going slow and making sure she is engaged and dealing well with the world is more important than pushing things through. @MaineLonghorn echoes something I have told my kids: Life is not a race.

    My son took a gap year before college. He needed a surgery but didn't actually apply to college until his gap year. People told us that would hurt him, but I didn't believe them and they were, I think, dead wrong. He had more time to study for the standardized tests (see below) and more time to do his college apps as he was not competing with HS courses. He did a number of interesting things that year and so they also helped his college application. He got into very good schools and is doing well -- he completed an MBA and an MS and started his second company last year while he was in grad school with a partner he chose from his MBA program and they have been recognized in national publications. He told me that he appreciated the additional maturity he had when he was a freshman and sophomore.

    I encouraged my daughter to take a gap year, but she was so excited about the school she got into that she didn't want to defer, but she then transferred at the end of the first semester. [She's done very well as well, so it didn't hurt her that much, but I think her decision-making might have been better with another year].

    Finally, I learned on CC about something called the Xiggi method for preparing for standardized tests from posts by a guy on here named @xiggi. I'd look it up, but it largely involved taking all the real, available practice tests. It worked well for both kids. My son spent half a day each day for three weeks and then took the tests.
  • Materof2Materof2 Registered User Posts: 232 Junior Member
    Hug her, support her, and cheer her on. Give her time to know she can count on you. Meanwhile, don’t push, but help her by buying her an SAT study guide (there’s one you can purchase through College Board), and then ask her when she wants to take the SAT. Local spots fill up fast, so the sooner you can sign her up for the test, the better.

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