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When do you let your child quit college?

flatxcaflatxca Registered User Posts: 312 Member
edited April 2013 in Parents Forum
My child is struggling and is in his 3rd year. He wants to take a semester off and I am very concerned that he will not go back. He is very bright, shines at work and limps through school. We were hoping that if we could keep him on track, he could earn his undergrad degree. Well, his grades are well below average now and he has a long road ahead. (He recently returned to taking his ADD med in hopes that it would help. So far, it has helped a little.)

We have explained to him that if not in school, we cannot or will not insure him or financially support him. He is still considering it.

Have you experienced this? If so, what did you do? If your child quit, did they return and what was the outcome?
Post edited by flatxca on

Replies to: When do you let your child quit college?

  • WellspringWellspring Registered User Posts: 1,025 Senior Member
    D withdrew from college with three semesters left. While her grades were fine she was struggling with depression and one of her meds caused her to lose concentration. Right now she is happy, working and living at home. We are paying her COBRA (which is a heck of a lot less than tuition!) and there is enough left in the college fund to pay for three semesters at State U City. She has a year left on COBRA to figure out what to do. I have come to believe there are many paths.
  • JustAMomOf4JustAMomOf4 Registered User Posts: 4,563 Senior Member
    Don't make him go if it is a struggle. There are indeed many paths and my father used to say (actually still says) "Never is a very long time".
    When he decides to go back he will most likely be more focused and goal-oriented and therefore more successful.

    IMO - you can require a plan. Tell him to submit a short term and long term plan. Agree on what you will still cover and not cover, i.e. car insurance, COBRA etc.
    You may be able to find a plan through your state that is cheaper than COBRA.
    Require him to be employed, even if it is a Wal-Mart, etc.....

    While none of mine have quit, I have two brothers who did so. One who was invited to take a semester off and the other who took of a year and transfered. They both went back, graduated and are quite successful adults with wonderful families.
  • JustAMomOf4JustAMomOf4 Registered User Posts: 4,563 Senior Member
    Additionally, my very bright niece quit after one semester. She had to take out loans and was unfocused. She could not see spending all that money at that time.
    My brother was horrified - and blamed her mother - they are divorced. She is the youngest of 4 kids who all went straight through.
    She always wanted to go to beauty school and she went. Worked and paid for it herself.
    Now she sees that she doesn't want to cut hair the rest of her life and at age 22 just enrolled at a univeristy in Florida. She is very focused and mature.
  • HighlandMomHighlandMom Registered User Posts: 1,010 Senior Member
    Agree with the above. Not everybody takes a straight line to get to the same place. And sometimes the view is better by taking the scenic route :)
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,538 Senior Member
    "He is very bright, shines at work and limps through school. "

    Then, frankly, why on earth are you insisting that he be in school? Let him work! He may find much success and never, ever need to finish college. OR he may realize that he does want to finish college and will go back when the time is right. In either case he will be starting from a position of strength because you are encouraging him to do what he "shines" at.
  • 3bm1033bm103 Registered User Posts: 4,209 Senior Member
    I've experienced this and with perfect 20/20 hindsight would let him quit way earlier than we did. Mine spent five years in school paying for that last year himself with student loans but still doesn't have a degree. Otherwise, he's a wonderful person, hard worker and self supporting. I still would have insisted he try, but after a year or two, would have made his decision his own.
  • jjcddgjjcddg Registered User Posts: 508 Member
    Many years ago my sister who was struggling in school quit in her Junior year. SHe just collected her belongings, hopped on a bus and arrived at my parents doorstep. A few years later she returned to school, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and went on to get her masters.
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Registered User Posts: 4,461 Senior Member
    I wonder if there's some alternative, like a semester abroad, that would feel more like a real-world learning experience and less like school.
    My brother-in-law dropped out of his senior year at UCLA and never went back to school. It has seriously limited his career and life choices.
  • InthebizInthebiz Registered User Posts: 632 Member
    Not all kids go straight through (in non-CC land, LOTS of kids don't go straight through) It's ok . . . far better to allow your S to figure what he wants to do and when (and if) he's ready, he'll return an no doubt do much better than he currently is.

    Maybe my story will make you feel better . . . I dropped out after my freshman year having struggled all year, having little motivation, and frankly, having no clue. I then worked for several years at crappy jobs, got married, supported my hubby through med school at more crappy jobs, and THEN went back to school because I WANTED to go to school. I did great! I ended up going to law school and later got a PhD and have been working in academia ever since.

    In my work I often talk with parents like you, and like my own . . . and I often counsel them to let their kids leave school, grow up and get focused, and then return. I've kiddingly offered to give them my mom's number so she can tell them it's not the end of the world to let your kid drop out.

    Good luck!
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    >>He is very bright, shines at work and limps through school.<<

    This line also stuck out for me. It's hard to continue to do something when you get no psychological kudos. And if there is something that you really do shine at, then go for it. I'll bet his outlook on life will change immeasurably.
  • flatxcaflatxca Registered User Posts: 312 Member
    Thanks for the responses! They really are very helpful. I am planning another heart to heart with my son (and then my husband) to help him come up with a plan.

    Your stories are inspirational and appreciated!
  • BrightBoyzMumBrightBoyzMum Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    I'm looking many years ahead as my son is a junior in high school and one of those "very bright kids who doesn't look great on paper", but I'd like to know: So the son quits college. What now? Do you give him a short time period (2 weeks? 2 months?) to get a job and help him get an apartment and cut him loose? I mean, our kids are supposed to go to finish high school and either prepare to get a job or get a job, right? Of course, we want to help them be successful whatever they do, to the extent that we can, but they're adults now, right?
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    Sounds like this kid, if he should stop college for now, will go out and get a job and shine. This is not the same as a kid who plans on staying home all day and playing video games. Then tough love may have a place.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,665 Senior Member
    My son took time off from school after 2 years of college and it was the best choice he ever made. He returned to a different college after working full time 3 years, at a time when he was much more prepared for school. His work experience gave him a much higher level of confidence and a stronger focus in school, plus his work resume helped qualify him for internships and merit aid at his college -- so certainly it provided a stronger foundation for his last 2 years. Even though he ended up at a less prestigious college, he was hired for a good job with benefits within 2 weeks of graduating -- the work history gave him a strong resume that put him far ahead of the typical newly-minted college grad.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    my eldest, who was first gen college, hit the wall 3rd year.
    ADD/LD combined with parents that didn't know enough to press to see grades ( her school doesn't routinely dispense grades), being ill ( I didn't know she had mono until she was almost over it- then again the clinic didn't know either), I believe an increase in substance use- ( still minimal but it didn't help), contributed toward failing the spring final in O-chem which was required for her major.

    Her prof was great- she took a year off, worked and retook Ochem along with a few other classes, then returned to same school and finished her major ( and thesis!)
    We tried to be as supportive as we could be. I think kids are hard enough on themselves, and I felt bad that I hadn't kept a closer eye, so that she had to go through that.
    Still, her school was close enough that she was able to go down and visit for what would have been her senior year & her friends came here. Many of them also flew from the other coast to see her graduate the next year. It worked out well.

    I think it is good if your young adult life doesn't go too smoothly..You learn a lot from challenges & knowing that a bumpy road will not flatten you is invaluable for the years ahead.
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