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My 16 year old son, smart but unmotivated. Can he get into an engineering program in Florida?

968Mom968Mom 63 replies23 threads Junior Member
My 16 year old son is very smart but doesn't try particularly hard at anything he is not interested in. He's in 10th Grade. He's a life long tinkerer, is into robotics and competes with FRC and wants to pursue aerospace engineering. At the same time, he makes close to no effort at school, never studies or does homework but still manages to get a 3.4 GPA (3.8 weighted). His test scores are good but not out of this world. My daughter is an engineering student at UF and he wants to go there also but I don't think he will qualify. I'm assuming he's not the only smart but unmotivated and unorganized student out there. What would be a good school to shoot for?
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Replies to: My 16 year old son, smart but unmotivated. Can he get into an engineering program in Florida?

  • milee30milee30 2118 replies13 threads Senior Member
    FSU or FIT
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23220 replies17 threads Senior Member
    He may be hurting himself by not doing the things he doesn't like. Can he qualify for Bright Futures? Will he be able to go to the school he wants to (UF, UCF?). Sure, he can get into some schools but once he gets there he'll be required to take those classes he doesn't like such as English and history (an ABET program will require about 15 credits).

    My friend had 3 kids who were all in an IB program and who all wanted to go to Colorado School of Mines. The oldest wasn't doing very well in high school, and sounds like your son in that this boy also wasn't doing anything he didn't want to do. When he was a junior she took him over to Mines and they met with an admissions officer. He looked the kid in the face and said "You won't get in here with these grades. You need to take these classes and get X grades." He immediately changed his ways and did go to Mines, as did his brother and sister. His mother couldn't get through to him, but the admissions officer did.

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  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6461 replies203 threads Senior Member
    The (ABET accredited) Aerospace engineering programs in Florida are at UF, UCF, FIT, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) at Daytona Beach, and the University of Miami. The last three (FIT, ERAU, and UM) are private colleges.All of these schools have decent programs.

    If he can end this year strong, and get mostly A's in 11th grade, he still has a decent shot at UF. He has plenty of time to study and improve his test scores. Don't forget his volunteer hours and EC's.

    UCF has a very good Aerospace program, and while they can be more expensive, FIT and especially ERAU also have good programs.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 3888 replies50 threads Senior Member
    The real point though, is if he is lazy (even if he is smart) engineering will spit him out, freshman classes are just grinding classes without much in the way of fun tinkering. Eng kids especially need to be able to manage a rigorous schedule and stay self motivated. IMO you tell him no 4 yr residential college is on offer unless he does a 180, studies and optimizes his test scores and starts getting all As as I assume his isn't taking APs etc. He can go to community college if he isn't on board. What is his SAT/ACT score?
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  • fendrockfendrock 2902 replies292 threads Senior Member
    You might look into the Olin College of Engineering for him.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7561 replies61 threads Senior Member
    There is still a lot of growing up that happens between 10th grade and senior year. It's great that he has a direction. Maybe worth showing him the stats he'll need to be a competitive applicant.
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  • HPuck35HPuck35 2010 replies15 threads Senior Member
    My son was starting to go down that path of not caring about grades. I sat him down and talked with him. What I basically said was:

    You may apply to a college but it is the college that really chooses who they will admit. The college will want someone with a paper trail of doing good work in ALL subjects. That paper trail is called your GPA. Many colleges are getting away from SAT and ACT test scores as they are just one day tests and GPA is much more telling about how you perform.

    College isn't the end game. It is just a stepping stone to your career. You must also perform well (read good GPA) in college to get the job you desire. You will also have to take classes in college that may not always be to your liking, but that is life and you can not change the system.

    Learn to play "the game" now or fight the system your whole life. Fighting the system is like banging your head against a wall. It feels good only when you stop.

    So, you have choice. Get to work now or be shut out of the better career paths. It's your choice.

    He decided to not fight the system and do the work. He found ways to do tasks easier and some other shortcuts. But that is OK as long as you do the work and do get the grades.
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  • compmomcompmom 10820 replies77 threads Senior Member
    Has he been evaluated for ADHD? A questionnaire is the main way to diagnose. A kid who only works on what he is interested in may possibly have ADHD- just a thought.

    There is a book entitled "The Myth of Laziness" that might be helpful.
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  • sevmomsevmom 8423 replies56 threads Senior Member
    I can only speak for my son , but no ADHD, major depression or anxiety(good to rule those out). Just maturity issues (typical with boys), focus on other things (all state athlete), probably too much time playing video games and blowing off homework,older brother was top student, etc. There are many possibilities . Just approach with love. My talk about paying for college was prefaced with my love and support , coupled with expectations that he make an effort to do his best.
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  • ECmotherx2ECmotherx2 2207 replies7 threads Senior Member
    Is there a summer robotic or engineering program that will challenge him? Sounds like he might respond to that. Are there any magnet STEM or tech schools in your area?
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  • wis75wis75 14102 replies64 threads Senior Member
    Reread post # 9. Your son needs to know those facts. He can do better this semester which will prepare him for that all important junior year. Tell him the facts about college. Tell him he has to jump through the hoops to get where he wants to be. Tell him he needs to start NOW.

    So much fun parenting teens, isn't it?
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4400 replies18 threads Senior Member
    https://www.collegedata.com/cs/data/college/college_pg01_tmpl.jhtml?schoolId=943

    Boys are a strange breed, aren't they?

    I would personally take a different approach and I put some of this on the parents. (sorry). First your daughter goes there. I am sure she has some wisdom for him. Have him do a day visiting the college or arrange a stay over if you are local or if you visit her at school. This should help motivate him.

    Email all his teachers and let them know his aspirations. So.. What does he need to do to turn those b's into A's or at least more of them? He might not be as far off as you might think. Is he participating in class? Does he turn in assignments on time? Can he do extra credit work to get some grades up. Will the teachers work with him? Can you afford a tutor?

    Giving him the choice is not the option if he really wants to go into engineering. He will also need to soon begin prepping for Act /Sat. He needs to get on board now since with the same attitude he will sink with those tests. We always told our kids getting good grades now might make those tests easier later on. Not 100% true but.....

    Also he needs to realize if he is getting these grades without really any effort then just think what he can potentially get if he tries.

    Pro tip : He most likely doesn't know how to study. Get him help with this. This is more common then you would think.

    Get him this :

    https://www.amazon.com/How-Become-Straight-Student-Unconventional/dp/0767922719

    It is highly suggested on the CC site especially on the engineering thread. The author makes one for high school etc. It is quick read and has some great methods for studying. Read it also to educate yourself. It works! @968Mom
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  • ProudpatriotProudpatriot 1538 replies12 threads Senior Member
    I would be more worried about him getting out of an engineering program with a degree than getting in an engineering program. Engineering students have to take a bunch of (sometimes boring) freshman and sophomore classes before they get to the interesting stuff. If your son can't do that it will be difficult for him to get a degree. Unmotivated and unorganized are not a good fit for engineering. Sorry but it isn't enough to just be smart.

    I think you might have to become involved to teach him what it takes to be organized. Perhaps when he is more organized he will see more success and the success itself will be motivating.
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  • HappyNJOOSHappyNJOOS 111 replies13 threads Junior Member
    My $.02 is to NOT send him to a school that is a stretch school (unless there is some type of turnaround). I have a freshman D in UF and the rigor is as advertised.

    I also have a son (Junior in HS) and he is not as active as his big sister. To get him a little more interested in the whole effort and testing scores, we sat him down and said college is an investment and we are willing to make it only if the effort from him is there. Effort is not the same as results.

    He said he needed help with SAT studying and we made a deal that we would invest in the raining for him as long as he took it seriously. So far so good.... we will see after March SAT exam results.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4400 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @HappyNJOOS... I have to laugh. My talk with my kids at one point is "I love you but your my investment in your future. You need to produce to make good on my investment". Or something like that. They got the point. If I am spending like $60,000/year (thank goodness not that much due to merit) they can at least put in the effort to succeed. So far.. My investments are paying off handsomely.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78523 replies695 threads Senior Member
    If he like to tinker and such, perhaps look deeper into the curriculum of each school to see if design experiences start early, versus the more traditional ordering of math and natural science first, then engineering science, then engineering design late in the program. Having design experiences earlier may keep him more interested than in a more traditional curriculum order.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 33147 replies3850 threads Super Moderator
    Also look into Mechanical Engineering. That will bring up a larger set of schools than just Aero. And many Mech E programs have an Aero option.
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