Help! My kid wants to go to college next year--but he's so not ready.

<p>Hi, parents. My child is a sweet, moral,smart, stubborn kid. He also has rotten grades (Bs through Ds) but good SATs (600s). He says he can't study hard because it causes him stress and stress is bad. But he wants to go to college next year. I suggested he take this next semester to see if he can get all Bs for once in his academic career so far--for his life. He says he'll try, but he will stop if he gets stressed out. He also wants to quit French--in February of his senior year! Guidance counselor told him this was a bad idea but he doesn't care. He has severe ADHD and was a preemie so he is youngish for his age. We believe he'd be better off taking a gap year but he gets enraged at the suggestion. We also tell him we are not obligated to pay for college and he also gets enraged. It's not that we have to pay, we just want his "buy in" on whatever he does next--we also don't want him lying resentfully on the couch for a year! He hates the idea of community college--plus, I kind of think he'd fail out of that too. Any suggestions, oh wise ones??????</p>

<p>I can see going two ways on this. Can you afford a really enticing gap year experience for him (like NOLS)? If he's not ready for college, maybe getting him excited about doing something specific next year would help on the buy-in. The other option I see is to find a low-cost college option where he can prove himself. Sometimes with the right self-motivation kids can really step up.</p>

<p>I have a feeling that all his friends are talking about the fun/interesting/exciting colleges they'll be going to next year and he does not want to be stuck at home, whether it's working or going to CC. I'd try to figure out a situation where he's at least out on his own.</p>

<p>I would let him go, if HE can afford to go. Give him a bench mark GPA that he needs to have and you will pay him back at the end of the year or whatever but let him go. In order to go, however, he needs to do the research, fill out his applications, get recommendations if that is needed, etc. It's a little late to be starting all of this so he really needs to get it done now if he hasn't. If he really wants to go, he will get it done. If not, you proved your point :).</p>

<p>Good luck Endicott. I would have suggested a local commuter college as a test and a way for you to help keep his stress level down. I have a feeling my S 15 will be in the same boat- ADHD and other LDs- he is easily stressed. </p>

<p>In many ways I think college can be easier since they have so much more say in the classes they take, and can focus on what they excel in. That is a good thing. On the other hand, there will be more distractions, and more stress (created from caring for himself). </p>

<p>Best of luck.</p>

<p>Sounds like a situation where some sort of contract outlining mutual obligations might be helpful. Say you send him off to the school of his choice: make it very clear what your expectations are (2.0+ GPA, full course load or whatever) and what his expectations are for you (coverage of tuition, R&B etc.). Maybe even put in a contingency clause - if he finds the workload too difficult, he can (after consulting with you and an advisor) drop to a part time courseload. He must register for appropriate support service for his ADHD, not take a job for the first semester, etc etc. The trick is to have clearly achievable and measurable items in the contract - nothing about "effort," "stress" or "happiness." If he can't or won't measure up, he's aware of the consequences going in. The message is, you believe in him and want to give him a chance to achieve his dreams, but there are boundaries to what behaviors you are willing to support.</p>

<p>Rotten grades? In high school? D's?
Studying hard causes him stress and then will not study hence the D's and other rotten GPA?</p>

<p>Then when you suggest to wait he becomes enraged?
Then you suggest you don't have to pay he becomes enraged?
Enraged. No, he is not ready.</p>

<p>My 3 sons were all at different points at graduation. First ready and off he went. Second was ready at ninth grade, had enough units by mid-year 10th and he stayed on course and graduated with his peers. Then graduated from an ivy with 1 degree+minor, graduated from another uni with 2 more degrees+minor and is in med school (more than ready!). </p>

<p>Last son was NOT ready, went to culinary school, is now a sous chef and assistant restaurant manager. Maybe in a few years he will matriculate and complete his BS (has a AS from culinary school).</p>

<p>Your money, your house, your rules.</p>

<p>You will not be doing him any favors giving in to his tantrums. You need to do what is best for him, not giving in.</p>

<p>They all grow at different speeds, needing different avenues. Time is the best gift you can ever give him.</p>

<p>I would not make this an argument rather, the opportunity to dream. Outside the box. And then find, discover all the different ways those dreams can be realized. And he can have more than 1 dream.</p>

<p>Good luck.</p>

<p>Kat</p>

<p>Endicott - Your S sounds exactly like my nephew ... ADHD is driving the bus, and the kid goes where the bus goes. It pains me to say this, but IMO you're stuck with the job of supervision. </p>

<p>What's the likely outcome of the kid doing well at his "dream school?" Right. Will the ADHD capitulate at that point and say "OK, my way doesn't work ... feel free to try something else?" Right. </p>

<p>Until your S gets control over his ADHD (as my BIL has, very successfully) your S's past experiences will continue. It might help if you turned over to him responsibility for his college applications ... including paying the fees (most of which he can avoid with online applications, but you get my point). This is the plan with my nephew, who will doubtless rail "You're making me fail." But that's just the ADHD talking.</p>

<p>Whether or not he gets "enraged" should have nothing to do with this. You are the parent and it will be your money supposedly if he wants to attend college. Ds on his transcript will be problematical for many colleges. Have you (or he) done any research on colleges that will accept him? I suppose if you can gamble a semester's tuition you could float a trial bubble, but you will need to set very clear expectations. If he doesn't go to college then you'll have to set expectations anyway...the proverbial line drawn in the sand. A kid saying he can't study hard because it causes him "stress" is really not a college ready kiddo. Your gut instincts are spot on.</p>

<p>

I don't understand - EndiSon is a Senior, doesn't he have all his applications in already?</p>

<p>What if he can't get decent grades at college and becomes "enraged "away from home ? I would tell him to start with CC and prove himself .I know this is not what he wants -you know this , but anybody who has tantrums at 18 is showing you he isn't ready . Think up something he would enjoy while at CC like boxing lessons as an incentive to prove himself . Would any medication help him to focus better ?</p>

<p>He is not a strong student. Don't waste your money on a 4 year university. Make him prove he can do it at a community college and then you will bless his transfer to a 4 year university. </p>

<p>You are the keeper of the keys.</p>

<p>I have premature twins and they know if they don't make good grades they are not going to college. Don't let that have grip on you.</p>

<p>I would tell him he needs to do his first year at CC but let him get an apartment on his own. Give him a clear cut but attainable GPA to achieve and then let him drive the transfer to a 4 year school if he meets his goal. </p>

<p>or do some research on colleges that work with ADHD kids...</p>

<p>There may be some schools that are not too far away, don't cost too much, and which also offer academic support if your S has in fact been diagnosed with ADHD. For example, Edinboro University in PA has a wonderful program to assist students in this situation (I work with someone whose son also had good SATs but had ADHD; her son flunked out of his first college, but Edinboro worked with him. He's now graduating with acceptable grades.) Also, a "starter" college doesn't have to be the one that he'll graduate from. If he does well where he starts or chooses a major that isn't offered at School #1, transfers are common.</p>

<p>What does he want to do with his life beside go to college? Has he taken any interest-surveys/tests to see what careers might appeal to him? </p>

<p>There's a lot of pressure on kids in Senior year of high school to do the same thing that everyone else does. The college-bound kids are wearing their college t-shirts to school, and everyone is talking about their future schools. Going to CC or taking a gap year could be painful if he's in that kind of environment or if his friends are all going to college. (If he submited college applications with your knowledge, but now you're telling him that you don't think he's ready -- I'd say he has good reason to be enraged. He was allowed to dream and hope, and you'd be pulling the rug out.) </p>

<p>Another option if you can't find a good match for him academically may be earning credits at a school affiliated with the flagship with a plan to transfer later -- for example, Penn State has local campuses, and students can go to the main campus after they've earned 60 credits. Sometimes CCs are tied to a local university, so that students are guaraneed admission and all credits transfer. You might need to help him see how this path works for success though. </p>

<p>If you're telling him that he needs to prove that he can do college work, he may be hearing you say that you don't think he's good enough for college and that his future is more limited than the other kids. Keep in mind that some of those other kids will be C, not B students in college. Bs aren't always a threshhold for success.</p>

<p>My D (who is a junior) has some similarities to your S--grades are not quite as bad (we don't have SATs yet--she is taking them in March), but immature for her age, on the young end for her grade (summer birthday), and the ADHD/anger issues are there. Separate from the college issues--consider that your S is depressed. Depression is comorbid with ADHD, and often manifests as anger. With the college stress, probable feelings of failure, etc this is a real possibility you should discuss with a health care professional.</p>

<p>Regarding the college stuff--my D already knows that she will do a gap year. Don't present it as a punishment. Present it as an opportunity to not have the stress of classes, to find something he would really like to focus on but never had the time. DD likes theater, and we have discussed giving her a year to pursue this passion. We've also discussed overseas options (supervised). We discuss it in a nonjudgemental way--you don't have to go straight to college, there are lots of paths in life, college will always be there--you're young, take some time off and do something you're really interested in, you may not have this chance again, etc. She is probably one of only a handful of kids at her high school who will not be in school in the fall of 2013, but she's actually really excited about it. He can even brag that he is NOT going to school, but doing something really exciting--I'll bet lots of kids would be jealous.</p>

<p>I agree with the gap year idea.
Does he have any idea what he would study in college? what are his passions?</p>

<p>OP, you say he is a sweet young man but gets enraged when things don't go his way.
He just doesn't seem ready to deal with the complexity of life away at college.</p>

<p>I am so sorry you are struggling with this Endicott. Your son should not be "enraged" at his parents. He is not ready. Is he on ADHD meds? If so, perhaps he needs an adjustment to his medication. Anxiety is not ADHD, but it can be linked to it. Again, has he been to a doctor lately to discuss what is going on. </p>

<p>I think it is time to ask him about what he wants to do with his life. Does he picture himself in business? Science? Perhaps college is not for him right now. Not everyone should go to college. I certainly wouldn't let him sit on the couch, but I'd start developing a plan for things he finds interesting. Not everyone is an A student. Many are C students, but Ds? Maybe he needs to investigate a different path. A path that will lead him to a happy and successful future.</p>

<p>Not to forget that college is about studying. Kids go to college because they want to study some more...because high school wasn't enough. The OPs kiddo says that studying stresses him out. Not every kid is an A student in high school. But you don't go to college unless you want to study "more." In our zeal as a nation to get every kid off to college we've lost sight of what that means. It sends out kids somewhat of a mixed message that you go to high school and then you go to college...somewhat seamlessly and with little effort. It's no wonder that kids just assume that is what they will do. I don't expect juniors or seniors to be able to tell adults with great clarity what their path in life is, a few can but not the majority. But I do expect a junior or senior should be able to articulate which high school classes they liked, what area they might want to take more classes in and those sorts of "ready"' signals. Perhaps like Musicmom says the OP should ask the son what area he is interested in. That in itself might be illuminating. Most seniors have a counseling meeting with the GC. It would be interesting to see what the GC perspective is. Those that are actually in the schools (teachers, GCs) often have a viewpoint that we as parents don't have. For many kids the "getting away from the parents and hanging in a dorm with hundreds of kids their own age" gets in the way of the "I'm going to college and I'm going to study and take classes that are more difficult than the ones in high school." Some master that balance, many don't.</p>

<p>This is all so helpful! Thank you!! And more advice is very welcome, too!</p>

<p>there are tens of thousands of 18-year-olds that are not ready for college, but go to college anyway. Many of them take remedial courses to learn what they should have learned in high school and to acquire time management and study skills. Many drop out. He won't be "alone" if he goes to college next year.</p>

<p>I think all parents are alarmed when they see what they are expected to pay for college, even those that are not middle class by any stretch of the imagination. I don't think we need to throw that back at the OP, I'm sure deep inside they know it. I think sometimes, especially when you read this particular forum one can get the impression that no one with a shred of brains is full pay and I suspect that is less true than true or the full pay people aren't bothering to read forums about how to get their kids into college. The financial statistics at the schools prove this out. There are strategies for discounting tuition and if that is the path the OP wants to take there are certainly saavy people that can help.</p>