Failing, First Semester, Freshman

<p>I am a first time college parent, my son who has never been a great student (but OK) is failing in his first semester. Through the the first 12 years we had to stay on him with homework and making sure everything was done. He goes to school about 90 miles away and plays soccer. I think, that a few things may have contributed to the situation he put himself in.
1) he's away from home,
2) he started his soccer season before he started school and missed a lot of class because of games as well as practices from 9p to 11p every night during the week.
3) made a lot of friends and probably a little too much partying. </p>

<p>So is this the end of the world? Should we bag it now and forget about next semester? He's having knee surgery in December and wouldn't have any soccer next semester at all. Do we let him try again? He attempted 18 credits and I think got 2 C's and 4 F's</p>

<p>I think that all kids go a little crazy their first semester, but do they settle down in the second? He knows he dug himself into a hole, my question is can he dig himself out and how do we help him?</p>

<p>Thanks.</p>

<p>Is the semester over already or can he dig himself out with finals??????</p>

<p>If those indeed are his final grades, you need to find out the school's policy on failing grades. Will he be put on probation, or is his gpa so low that he has no choice but to leave?</p>

<p>If there is a nearby community college to your home, that might be a good alternative while he gets his act together and matures a bit.</p>

<p>The knee surgery adds injury to insult, doesn't it? ;) Where I teach, many of the sports teams have required "study hall" sessions in the evening - does his team do anything like this, and would he be able to continue that activity even though he won't be playing?</p>

<p>I know many people will say that soccer distracted him from studying, but often the coach can motivate the players to keep their grades up and having that circle of friends from the team can provide some important social support.</p>

<p>Most likely, the school will put your S on academic probation and require that he meet with a tutor or counselor next semester. These folks are obviously the experts, but my hunch is that 18 credits may simply have been too much. At this point, I'd recommend signing up for the fewest credits possible to remain as a full time student (12?) and makng sure he does very well in those courses. He'll probably need to take a couple of summer classes to get back on track.</p>

<p>I agree that your son is likely to be put on academic probation. He will be required to significantly improve his gpa or he will be suspended at the end of spring semester (if his school is like many others). He will be forced to stay away for one year while he serves that suspension. I am a professor, and the most common reason I see for young men failing their first semester is immaturity. They are just not ready for the responsibilities of college, and they don't realize why they are there. Moreover, in the absence of a strong support network (like parents reminding them to do their homework), they flounder. The best cure for immaturity is time. Unfortunately, in this job market, taking a year off to work is difficult because even minimum-wage jobs are hard to come by. If taking a year off to grow up is not an option, I agree with the other responder that a community college is a better bet. Community college classes are directed towards students who lack the background (for whatever reasons) for success at a university. There is much more hand-holding and checking up on students. The class sizes tend to be smaller. Presumably, the local community college has an articulation agreement with the university so that any courses he takes there will transfer back. If your son is greatly distraught at the prospect of not going back to the university in January, the best hope he has for a better semester is to avail himself of support systems on campus (tutoring, academic success centers, writing centers, etc.). Universities have any number of resources to help the struggling student. I would recommend a serious chat in which you ask your son to analyze his first semester. Is he aware and self-reflective about how/why/when he screwed up? Does he seriously want to change? If he doesn't have strong answers to these questions, then he really should be pushed in the direction of a temporary job or a community college. Any other approach will just delay and lengthen by one semester his separation via suspension from the university. Good luck!</p>

<p>Is his school on a quarter system or are these mid-term grades?</p>

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<p>That depends on what the problems were and if they can be recovered
from.</p>

<p>If he's in a major that is too hard for him or not his cup of tea,
then that's one issue. If it is time management, then that's another
thing. If there are too many distractions, then the question is: can
he manage those in a second semester?</p>

<p>18 credits is a lot to handle, especially in the first semester. Were
there a lot of hard science courses in his first semester?</p>

<p>Thank you for all of your responses. We asked that he come home tomorrow so that that we can sit down with him and have a face to face. To answer some of your questions, They were not hard classes, they were core remedial classes. Community College of Philadelphia does offer what some of you say. Two years there for maturity and lower costs then transfer into Temple or LaSalle or a number of other mainstream schools. I thought that would have been a good idea the reason that I didn't go this way was the soccer issue. He attends a D2 school and receives some athletic money with the chance to earn more. He is a good kid and hasn't been in any trouble ever including this first semester, he just struggles in school.</p>

<p>Is your S on an athletic scholarship? At my lac, an athlete's scholarship money is pulled as soon as he or she drops below a 2.0. The student can continue classes for a while on academic probation. He or she might even be able to play sports as an athlete doesn't have to have a 2.0 at the end of the first semester to remain eligible. But, the scholarship money goes away. Find out your school's policy before making any decisions. He may not be able to afford to go back if he looses a substantial scholarship.</p>

<p>I'm in a Student Support Services (Trio) program. Sadly, what I see is often a decrease in GPA the second semester. Freshmen, especially in season athletes, are often very carefully advised. The coaches almost always run study tables. There are also many programs in place to catch those first semester freshmen. Second semester is often more a taste of "real" college coursework. </p>

<p>And I agree with libartsmom. The problem is often simply a lack of maturity (but I see plenty of that in the freshmen women, too). Pulling him out to spend a semester at a cc might keep the hole he's digging at a manageable size. A whole year of bad grades is harder or bounce back from.</p>

<p>Would it make any sense to take a 'W' in 1 or 2 of the failing classes and then focus on improving his grades/going to the academic center/getting peer tutored etc. in the other classes?</p>

<p>When we had one who struggled, we opted to let the school call the shots. When they said he could return on probation, we let him return. Despite a lower GPA in second semester, we let the consequences come from the school. Needed to do summer school each year as well as winter terms, but was able to graduate on time. It was the best decision we made for preserving our relationship.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I think that all kids go a little crazy their first semester

[/quote]
No, I think most kids don't - certainly not to the extent of failing most of their classes or even failing any classes. If he ends up with these grades at the end of the first semester I certainly wouldn't pay any money for him to attend. If you're not paying anything then he's on his own and it's his decision. If you're paying then he should come home and go to a CC or get a job and not go back to a 4 year until he's matured enough and has the right attitude to be serious about doing decently in college.</p>

<p>I see your mention that your son failed "core remedial classes." While that means that he entered college without the background for certain college classes, it also may mean that he has trouble with study skills - concentration, active listening, notetaking, reviewing notes, turning in assignments, reading textbooks for understanding, spreading study time for exams over several days, attending office hours... If that is true, he needs to figure out where he is weak and address those issues before he can succeed.</p>

<p>I agree that while there a some kids who do go a bit crazy when they start college, the vast majority of those I knew when I was in college & when my kids have been in college have been quite responsible and earned good grades while learning a lot. Some have had a slight dip in their grades while others have actually improved their grades over their HS ones (all depends on the kiddo).</p>

<p>I would NOT just brush this off as "kids will be kids" and a regular adjustment issue. As was said, it would be good to figure out financial fallout from these low grades, if he can get a W or 2 for some of these failing courses, what can be salvaged at this point in the year, and how he will make any changes going forward--wherever that may be.</p>

<p>Many of the athletes I know did better when they had the structure of playing a sport and studying with the other athletes than the other terms. Good luck sorting all of this out. </p>

<p>From your posting, it sounds like he was very used to the structure you & your H provided in prodding him to complete his work and doesn't get that now. Would definitely recommend he take a much lighter load wherever he goes next term so he can focus and bring his grades up--or find a job & work for a while.</p>

<p>As everyone above, I think the "core remedial class", "18 credits/6 classes" and "9p to 11p practice every week nights" does spell trouble. He is taking on too heavy load acadamically for the first semester, especially for the "making up" remedial classes. I can imagine he will be in more trouble when the real college level classes kick in and some coruses are designed to weed out less capable students.</p>

<p>I'd suggest withdraw all those potential F classes and keep the two C classes going for the semester. Try to take those F classes in the CC again to make up the gpa or take a one gap semester and try them in the next school year.</p>

<p>A coach might increase your son's chance of academic success by helping him create a realistic and inspiring vision (why is he going to school, what does he want in the end?), set goals, find internal motivation, harness strengths, find resources, develop successful strategies, anticipate obstacles and be accountable.</p>

<p>"Would it make any sense to take a 'W' in 1 or 2 of the failing class" - Check policies. Often freshman are allowed late course drop dates.</p>

<p>^ Also even if it is past the date stated in the policy, check with the professor. I just discovered a student of mine was able to get a W with my permission, even though it was weeks past the drop date.</p>

<p>mkelly, my S (avg. kid, h.s. football player) had a very similar situation freshman year. He was not a scholarship athlete but started college "under a cloud" due the deaths of his two best friends (auto accident) one month before he left for college. His first sem. grades were 2 D's (worth 4 credits) and 4 F's (worth 9 credits). </p>

<p>He was put on Academic Probation for the spring sem. He really wanted to try again in the spring. We felt he deserved it after all he had been through. So as an earlier poster said, we let the college (instate public univ.) make the decision. His univ. allows freshmen/sophs to retake up to three classes in which the original grade was D or F. So he retook eight hours worth of the failed classes in the spring to replace the failing grades. He made a 2.5 that sem. and got off of probation. </p>

<p>He is a senior now and on track to grad. in May. He has made 3.0 or higher every semester but one( hard class tripped him up) since that awful start of freshman yr. </p>

<p>A lot of people told us we shouldn't let him return to his school after that first sem. debacle. In our case, we thought that coming home and going to the CC would not be best for him. You have to know your kid and do what's best for him. Try to find out what the prob. is. Final exams are still to come, right? He might be able to salvage some grades between now and then. Find out if there is any grade replacement policy at his school so that he might have a chance to rebound in the spring if that is what he really wants and is committed to. If, on the other hand, he's not really happy at the school talk to him about what he really wants to do and go from there.</p>

<p>PackMom - "You have to know your kid and do what's best for him."</p>

<p>Truer words were never spoken. Great result in your case PackMom.</p>

<p>I hate to say this but....I'm pretty sure that D3 and probably D2 schools will accept students they normally wouldn't if a coach really wants that student. If that is the case here then the sad truth may be that your son wasn't ready. Since they do offer remedial classes he may be okay to try again, but CC might be the better place to get those remedial classes. If he stays in shape he may be able to do soccer again after that. I understand your concern because I too have a son who wants to play a sport. He also is not doing great this first year. He will be switching schools for various reasons. I'm hoping it's not CC because I selfishly want him to keep playing, and quite frankly don't want him hanging out with some of the CC kids he knows. He will come down to their level rather than reaching to be like people who work harder than he does. I saw this with S1. Luckily he stuck with it, and now he has his AS degree and is in his jr year at a Univ. He sees his friends and coworkers who didn't do college and realizes mom was right!</p>

<p>You'll have to check the eligibility rules if he transfers around and still wants to play soccer. He might have to sit out if he switches schools. Also, keep in mind that D3 schools can offer some nice financial aid and grants. You might be surprised that you can match it without a true athletic scholarship. But transfer down often incurs sitting out. There might be exceptions. I say all this in case he does CC and then attends somewhere else if school #1 doesn't want him back. There are also rules about talking to other schools. They are a pain.</p>

<p>Also, take a good look at his abilities. Did he take college prep in HS? Could it be that he isn't meant for college or did he just not try? My son isn't doing well because he is lazy and looks for short cuts. The social life comes before the studying, but he has the ability and can do well when he puts in the effort. He got by with mostly B's in HS with last minute or little effort. Guess that's not working so well. Personally, I didn't do well my first 2 years (B's and some C's--looked at my own transcript and at junior year it suddenly kicked in for me how to study)</p>

<p>Sadly, the social life is one reason my son is transferring, and I hate to condone that as a reason, but he is VERY unhappy there. There are other reasons as well. It's not jail so I'm not forcing him to stay there.</p>

<p>I hope you figure it out, I do believe you guys need to have an honest assessment of whether he CAN do it IF he tries. Good Luck. Doesn't stink to have to make these decisions. We have 3 options and I think about it constantly....hence the long post.</p>