College advice needed for underachieving HS student

<p>My 16yo son is very bright, good at everything, (tests mostly in the 99th%ile on standardized tests on all subjects) but hates school esp. doing homework. He gets A's on tests (without studying), but F for homework - his current GPA is a 2.9 It would be much lower except for our constant nagging.</p>

<p>He likes to play guitar, play video games, and hang with friends and has not a clue what he wants to do in life except to not work 9-5 in an office. </p>

<p>Any suggestions of midwest colleges that would be good for a kid like this, and/or what colleges would even accept him?</p>

<p>Time to buy a copy of "Colleges than Change Lives." It will have several good choices.</p>

<p>Arizona State University
St. John's University
Oregon State</p>

<p>you should check out the parents forum for 3.0-3.3 students, class of 2011/2015...lots of schools mentioned and discussd</p>

<p>Is he a rising senior at 16? If so, you might want to consider a gap year. Many kids that are young are not ready for college yet.</p>

<p>Why do expect college to change him? Isn't that your job or his job? The kid is 16 and he still hasn't got a clue what he wants out of life. Doesn't that fall on the parents somewhat? </p>

<p>I mean no disrespect but maybe you should sit down with him face to face, without the guitar and without having him check his texts every 30 seconds, and explain to him that he can't eat at home free until he is 35. </p>

<p>I teach at a community college. I see a bunch of kids who have no clue what they want in life and I am sure some of their parents think it is my job to fix. No, it isn't. It isn't my job to help clueless people. </p>

<p>It is comforting to know he doesn't want to work 9-5. What a relief. I am sure employers across the country are severly disappointed to hear that. With his skills they would have been lining up around the block to talk to him. </p>

<p>I am joking of course. </p>

<p>Seriously, don't you think it is time to have an honest talk with junior?</p>

<p>What he really needs is to spend some time working from 9 to 5, performing manual labor, if possible.</p>

<p>You are not alone. It's a big problem for a lot of families. My boys were not interested in academics either. and it was difficult pushing them along the college track. If we were not a college set family, and they did not go to school where everyone went to college, I doubt they would have gone. Nothing to do with ability either. They too tested well, one outstanding, but just didn't like school work, and frankly the idea of office work. Wanted to be free. </p>

<p>There really is little advice when you have kids like this--well, actually a lot of advice, but little that does any good and can be followed. These kids, mine and yours, are at high risk for drugs, illegal activities, just being bums. It's too easy to morph into nothingness. What I did was pretty much make them work at job so they had something to do all of the time, take tough courses so they were challenged since they performed just as well on lower level courses, and keep them with peers that were college bound. I restricted social activities especially the free lance sort tightly. I see what loose high schoolers do with no place to go, nothing structured to do and it is not good. </p>

<p>Kids go through this insanity as they morph into adults, and most of us come out reasonably ok in the end. We just don't want them to hurt themselves, ourselves and others during those crazy years. Keeping a structure is very helpful, and of course they absolutely hate it. I kept the structure in place even when I was tired of doing it. I was scared to let it loose and with good reason. Every slack I gave was rewarded with trouble for a while. </p>

<p>My cousin's son was floating away doing nothing--brilliant kid who got his EAgle Scout designation at age 13 or so, and never got interested in any other activity. Tried a lot of them and dropped them very quickly. He has a job now after school and weekends at a nursing home, and is beginning to realize that this is not the life he wants to live. He's actually looking more interested in the college viewbooks his mother leaves lying around, and was talking college when they visited us. His mother has told him she is fine with him continuing to work at the nursing home after graduation, but he would have to pay rent and car costs once he is out of school. The prospect is not tempting him in the least. The important thing is to be cheerful and not denouncing in making these pronouncement because these kids seem to really like to get our goats, which are easy to get. Part of the growing pains, as inevitable as labor pains. If you keep emotion and disdain out of your reactions and are accepting of some alternatives that are not attractive to the kids or to you, you have a bit more leverage. </p>

<p>A college that may interest a kid like your son is Cornell in Iowa. The one class at a time block system seems to get a lot of directionless kids more into the academics. Some just cannot focus on 4 subjects at the same time and throw it all into the winds, whereas they can focus on one thing at a time. Also taking just one course instead of a full load at a local school paired with a full time job might be a better route than investing money on a full semester somewhere if you well know the chances are poor that he will make it. On the other hand, if it looks like it just might fly, it may be a worthwhile investment to take a chance on it. </p>

<p>I looked for non traditional programs, things that were different since my kids were clearly not academic aficiandos. Throwing them into a higher level, less personal environment where they have to take even more accountability and responsibility for a bunch of courses they already hate did not seem to me to be a good idea. They all found programs at colleges that were very different from their college prep courses at high school, and that made a big difference I think in their approach to their new lives. They were just done with the traditional school by the time they were in high school.</p>

<p>Maybe you should consider community college for two years so he can mature, get a job, build up some savings, improve his grades and then figure out what he wants to do with his life and where he'd like to attend college.</p>

<p>99% on standardized tests. Good grades on class exams. F in homework.</p>

<p>This kind of record is often an indicator of "inattentive" ADD. Pick up the phone and talk with the school psychologist about getting this kid screened for ADD. There are a lot of time-management skills that your family can learn that could help keep him on track.</p>

<p>You also might consider getting him into HARDER classes. If the work is more intriguing for him, he may be more likely to do the homework.</p>

<p>And, you also might look for non-academic things that interest him. I know several smart but not that interested in homework kids who really came to life when they were given power tools and told to go design and build a stage set.</p>

<p>Wishing you all the best!</p>

<p>The problem with kids going to community college who do not like school is that it can provide even less incentive to enjoy academics. Most community colleges do not have the sense of community despite the label among students that can be a driving force in motivating kids to stay in college. Too many non traditional, busy folks going there. I know this is not true of all ccs but very much so for many that I know. It's a great place to go for many people, most people, but to stick an unmotivated kid in general courses there is a big mistake. One well chosen course is probably the way to go with a full time job. </p>

<p>If the kid hates the 3Rs , academics, school, taking a 13th year academic curriculum has a very high chance for failure. Some of these kids barely make it out of high school so great is their dislike and disdain for academics. Many go to alternative schools set up to try to save these kids from themselves and a GED rather than a high school degree.</p>

<p>Sending such kids to comm college is what gives these schools a bad rep to a point that kids spit those words out, "community college". That ccs have an open enrollment and because anyone can come up with the funds to go there, makes it a dumping ground for the very kids who don't belong there on a full time basis. It also screws up their options later when they are sent to cc and flunk out. Save that alternative for later when the kid wants the educaton instead of shooting that arrow out right now.</p>

<p>I agree with CPT if the CC's I know are any indication. (and I have family members who are and have been faculty at different CC's around the country.) You will find an exceptionally motivated group of students at a CC. These can be 50 year olds who are political refugees from a war-torn country who are working to reestablish their lives in the US, recently laid off adults who are re-training for a different career, young students who are balancing a full time job while building one credit at a time for a BA, etc. I think this is not a recipe for success for a smart kid who hates homework. Even the faculty is juggling-- either they are adjuncts who have fulltime jobs in their field and teach part time, or they're full time adjuncts who are teaching a course here and a course there. Trying to find them at 2 pm on a random Thursday to ask them about the reading for the next day's class can be challenging.</p>

<p>I actually think that giving such kids a taste of what life is like without either a trade or a profession is a positive motivator. A summer laying brick, mowing lawns, folding sweaters at the gap, scrubbing fryolater machines at Burger King, delivering packages for UPS, coding data in an office- all of these can pretty quickly get a smart kid to realize the value of a college education. And if not college, than an apprenticeship or technical school to get certified in something.</p>

<p>Life is hard when you're sweating in the heat or sitting on your rear end for minimum wage. You may be doing him a favor by helping him see what that life is like.</p>

<p>"What he really needs is to spend some time working from 9 to 5, performing manual labor, if possible."</p>

<p>Hunt is right on the money IMO. I think the light will go on when the boy sees how little that lifestyle buys.</p>

<p>Does your son want to go to college?</p>

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I actually think that giving such kids a taste of what life is like without either a trade or a profession is a positive motivator. A summer laying brick, mowing lawns, folding sweaters at the gap, scrubbing fryolater machines at Burger King, delivering packages for UPS, coding data in an office- all of these can pretty quickly get a smart kid to realize the value of a college education.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>This. In spades.</p>

<p>In other words, he needs to find his passion. This pretty much describes my oldest, who frankly we thought might end up either dropping out or flunking out of high school, despite his high scores. Then, he discovered what he loved - in his case, audio production - and pulled out all the stops at 17 and 18 to get his GPA up to snuff to go to college and get a degree in it. Probably didn't hurt that the venue where he worked put him to work scrubbing the toilets, either... :)</p>

<p>Working for UPS is actually said to be a pretty nice gig....if you can get in the union and deliver packages.</p>

<p>I think since you are supporting him you have a right to expect that he do his homework and turn it in on time; otherwise consequences (no guitar or video games, bud!). Keep at this right through senior year. Because he does not seem motivated by academics, accept that a 4 year college might not be for him yet. But you must insist that he have a specific plan after graduation if he wants to live at home. Job? Military ? Community College? Volunteer work? It is important after graduation that he have a structure to his day if he is going to remain with you.</p>

<p>And then he may discover college. Or he may not. I have seen many bright boys like your son who did not have a direction immediately after high school. Most of them have settled on something eventually. Not all have settled on college. Some have joined the military or coast guard. Some are working their way up a career ladder that does not require college. And some are getting their degrees.</p>

<p>Don't be too hard on your son. He sounds like most average kids these days. So many people who visit this site have such high GPAs and SAT scores it is remarkable and make the average students look second rate. When your biggest problem is which ivy league university to attend, I hope you all realize how lucky you are to be in such a position. Lots of stress on the students and parents. Good luck!</p>