Need opinions, please

I’m not sure that this is going to end up in the right place, but here goes! I haven’t broached this yet with my daughter’s school counselors but am looking for some real-world advice. D’21 has always struggled with school. She has ADHD and Dyslexia, and goes to a great prep school that has a learning support program for kids like her. Her “coach” has been there to help her with executive functioning issues, etc. but a lot of the issue at this point is just a lack of maturity. Despite the years of support, she still struggles and has a not-great gpa here in Junior year. I believe it’s just under a 2.9. Her pre-ACT was a 26, so I feel that she’ll at least test well, but the grades are not great and it doesn’t appear that she’s improved much so far this year. There are some 4-year colleges she can get into, but their graduation rates are low and I feel she may continue to under-perform. So my options for her are:

  1. A lower-threshold, low graduation rate public school that will take her
  2. An expensive private college that will have a support system for her like the one she has now (we're interested in Marist College for this)
    1. keep her home for two years/send to community college so that she can mature more 4. See where she gets in and if she gets in a decent school that she's happy with, defer a year and do a Gap--sending her away for a semester to mature/gain some life skills.

I am considering all the options for her and want her to have things to choose from when we get to the second half of senior year. Money is fortunately not a factor as we’ve got savings to cover any/all scenarios. Her older sister is a sophomore in college and she VERY much wants the whole “college experience”/not “two more years home with mom and dad” but I don’t want to send her away when she’s not ready only to have her struggle and end up back home later.

I know I’m not the first one to have an immature child struggling to make a college decision. She’s extremely intent on becoming a HS math teacher, so the drive/focus is there as far as what she wants to do, it’s just not translating into her school work NOW. Thank you for any advice/words of experience/wisdom!

Why do you feel a school with a lower graduation rate is a place where she will continue to underperform? Perhaps it’s a place where she can bloom.

Take a look at Kutztown. I loved our visit there and they seemed to have a lot of programs for kids similar to yours.

What does her school recommend?

I don’t think there’s any way to give you good advice, there’s too many variables at play. Re: the ADHD, has she learned ways to cope with it so that she won’t need tutoring or a lot of extra hand holding in college? The ADHD is a separate issue from immaturity. There’s no way to know online how immature she is and whether that could pose a problem.

Then there’s focus and drive. It is great that she’s identified a possible career, but if her grades/schoolwork aren’t there now, then, to be blunt, she does not have focus and drive, at least not now. I say this as a parent of a kid with ADHD who also struggles with focus and drive. Drive is identifying a goal, and going for it – doing what it takes to get there.

I would speak to people who know your daughter in real life, especially her advisor, and see what they recommend. It’s tough being a parent and figuring out these situations!

OP wrote : “I haven’t broached this yet with my daughter’s school counselors” “She has ADHD and Dyslexia and goes to a great prep school that has a learning support program for kids like her.”

I think that the above may be the best source for suggestions regarding your daughter.

As your daughter is just a junior in high school, she has plenty of time in which to mature enough to attend a residential college.

Does she prefer to stay in a particular region of the country ?

What are your daughter’s thoughts about college ?

Just for fun, please consider Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Like Colorado College, Cornell College students take just one course at a time, but it meets 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

ACT mid-range is 23-30. Slightly over 1,000 students evenly divided between male & female. Education is one of the two most popular majors.

Thanks for the feedback. We’ll definitely be working alongside her academic coach and college counselor. Her therapist told me at one point that ADHD kids are frequently about 3 years behind their peers in maturity, and this definitely seems to be the case with her. As for focus/drive, no, she does not have that yet! She is focused on being a math teacher but is clearly missing the drive to succeed in HS/attend college to achieve that.

We are East Coast (DC area) and she prefers to stay within a 5-6 hour drive, preferably closer. I’d mentioned Marist is about 5.5 hours for us but she could also fly/take the train so it’s feasible. They have a Learning Support program which sounds very similar to what she’s had in middle/HS.

In an ideal scenario, she’d show a lot of signs of maturity this next 1/1.5 years and get into a school we all feel is a good fit, but just trying to think about possible options not knowing where she’ll be at that point. I’m a planner/overthinker!!!

What signs of maturity are you looking for- and how is her current “immaturity” manifesting itself?

If you’re talking about the basics of adult living- waking up to an alarm clock without having to be thrown out of bed, remembering her locker combination, remembering her house keys when she’ll be the first one home in the evening, knowing how to put a simple supper on the table- that’s one thing. If you’re looking for “higher level skills” more closely aligned with executive functioning- that’s something else.

I think the “adulting” stuff can be handled by you guys- a “rigorous” course in independent living, while she’s still under your roof. The executive functioning stuff you’ll need to loop in the professionals at school for more support.

Why not give it six months and then re-evaluate after you’ve tried some intensive organizational skills workouts?

Does she make her own dentist/eye doctor appointments now? If not- start there. Great experience for a kid learning to self-advocate “no, I can’t come in at 11 am. I got to HS. Is there a day that the doctor sees patients after 5 pm?” AND keeping track of an insurance card, knowing her own medical history, etc.

@blossom Good advice. She’s actually pretty decent at basic life skills–cooks for herself, does her own laundry, drives herself everywhere, gets up/goes to school on her own, etc. Can lack in personal hygiene and her room is a disaster–can’t imagine her sharing a dorm room and not driving the roommate crazy. Really more the executive functioning stuff–not completing work on time and/or just not turning it in, despite having her learning coach on top of her and “reminding” her of things. She did go on an exotic 2-week travel abroad trip with a small group in the spring this past year and was extremely responsible when it came to her money/passport/belongings. I felt that she grew a lot from that and am looking into a pre-college summer program at a university to see how that might go. Like I said, I’m an overthinker/planner and need options and strategies in place in order to function in life! LOL

Maybe look into McDaniel College in Westminster MD. a small, nurturing CTCL school with a pretty campus not far from DC.

I’d encourage a job rather than another organized program. Especially a job where there are consequences for doing tasks late or not at all (like having to close out your cash drawer at the end of your shift at Target, or remembering to plan ahead for the 7 am rush at Dunkin Donuts by preparing 5 pots of coffee to be sequenced, at 6 am). And her boss will be the first person to tell her if she isn’t wearing her hair neatly combed in a bun with a net over it when she starts her shift if she’s working in food service! That will take care of the hygiene problem pretty quickly.

@inthegarden I have a friend with a happy freshman there and we’ll likely check it out but I think it’s going to be way too small, unfortunately. Love the location, though.

If you decide she IS able to go away to college, what size/vibe are you looking for?

@inthegarden She wants medium sized–4,000-15,000, East Coast, ideally with football/good school spirit, she’s a little artsy/different so a more laid-back vibe I would say? Mary Washington in VA could be a good fit although we haven’t seen it in person yet, and I want her to see Marist College and Quinnipiac.

@g8rmomk8ans I’ve got the boy version of your daughter. Similar stats, exec functioning issues, ADD. There are lots of schools your daughter could get into. Has she had neuropsych testing done with a diagnosis? If so, she’d be eligible for support services at most schools. Even without she might be. Is she good about getting help when she needs it? She will need to seek out those services and also advocate for herself. Quinnipiac is on my son’s list. Do they have special programs? I was not aware of any. My son is focusing on smaller schools (smaller class sizes/harder to get lost) so I don’t have many suggestions, but what about Catholic U? Ithaca? WVU?

@taverngirl I’ve briefly looked at WVU just from location but the appeal of being close to NYC/getting down to the city to see shows, etc. is very appealing. See, I feel like when I look at her stats she WON’T have a lot of choices–her gpa just doesn’t seem competitive enough to get in a lot of places. We’re non-religious so Catholic would not be of interest (same goes for Marymount which is very close to us) but I’ll look into Ithaca. She has accommodations at school currently and will be due for psycho-educational testing again next year–she will probably not seek accommodations in college (doesn’t use extra time on tests, etc.) but the idea of having an academic “coach” like she has now is very appealing. A friend had mentioned Quinnipiac and said she thought they had some kind of support program–need to keep researching!

Quinnipiac is pretty pre-professional, and I would not describe the vibe as “artsy”. I think you guys need to prioritize what you are looking for so you aren’t all over the map. It’s almost a two hour train ride from downtown New Haven (and a 20 minute Uber ride from the Q campus to the train) to get to NYC- I wouldn’t count on her “running” to see shows in NYC more than once a semester.

Does she have a job? Our youngest is dyslexic, dysgraphic, and dyscalculic and having a part-time job was a tremendous help. She had to be there on time, in her lifeguard uniform, with all the necessary equipment. It was at a resort so all employees had to be well groomed, which wasn’t an issue for her, but would’ve helped those who weren’t. Her group was responsible for opening, monitoring, and closing the rec area (pool, mini golf, water slides). The employees had to rotate through the different activities every 2 hours, so they had to pay close attention to the time. It was a great learning experience.

I think one of the benefits of having a job is that it makes our kids responsible for themselves because there’s nobody there to give them reminders. And they have to answer to someone other than parents. If they don’t pull their weight on the job their co-workers get upset with them and they can get fired. The stakes are lower than sending them off to college, so if they try and fail they can try again later. And it’s much cheaper than sending them on a gap year program.

Hi @g8rmomk8ans .

My D20 is a senior and in the process of applying to colleges now. She has struggled with ADHD and dyslexia since the beginning of elementary school and I worry quite a bit about how college will go for her once she gets in. You can search my prior thread for more info than you would want to know about my D.

My D is socially mature and has learned to stay organized, hand things in on time, show up in the right place, all of that is OK. Her big handicap is that she refuses to acknowledge any learning disability. She works very, very hard to overcome it, and school work is always difficult and takes her a very long time. She is usually successful and has a decent but not stellar GPA. I do not know whether she will be able to succeed in college with her “pedal to the metal” strategy and she is completely unwilling to ask for accommodations like extra time on exams. We are taking this one step at a time.

My D knows clearly that she is looking for a big university, full college experience, so that has helped guide our search (no CC or alternative pathways for now).

Does your D understand her disability? Does she have IEP, accommodations, supports in place now (sounds like yes)? What type of college experience is she looking for and does SHE feel ready to live on her own? Does she know what she wants to study?

My suggestion to you would be to cast a wide net. Take her on a lot of tours. Look hard at both big and small schools. If she is open to discussing it (unlike my D), check out the disability offices for each school. From what I am learning there is tons of help/support at some schools but the student needs to be able to ask for it. The search does become clearer as you go along.

When it comes time to apply you may need a longer list than some, to keep options open and give you more time to decide.

If money is not a barrier, you can also keep in mind that it may take her longer than 4 years to complete her degree. We have that in the back of our minds and budget, that if the going gets tough our D can reduce her course load and take an extra semester or year to finish.

From what you’ve written I would look for a 4 year academic “match” college that has good supports for different learners, not take a gap year, but know that it’s possible she’ll need extended time down the road. Let her start with her peers and enjoy being in college if that is what she wants.

@Jennifer2 Sounds like our girls are pretty opposite! Mine fully embraces her LDs–it helps that her very successful father has the same exact challenges and she knows he finally accomplished things (LOOOOONG road for him, though, so we’re prepared for the same) Her school has 20% of its kids utilizing a “learning center” with dedicated coaches, so there is no stigma. Elementary school (public) was not like this and the kids that were pulled out or had accommodations were ostracized.

I feel like I need to give her a break from talking about college. I think it’s exciting to her on one hand but freaking her out on the other. Her sister left at age 15 for boarding school and is so completely different–extremely mature, responsible and independent. D21 sees this and knows things will be much harder for her and constantly compares herself. I think she’s very apprehensive which is why I’m thinking she may need more time and/or need a school where she can get the kind of support she’s had in school so far.

I think we’ll really need to let her take the lead on this–she thinks she knows that she wants mid-size, on the East Coast, and with a 5 year Masters in Education track available. So that’s a good start! Best wishes to your D in that she ends up in a school where she thrives!

Have you looked at Landmark’s programs? They have a summer program and a program to prepare kids with dyslexia and other learning challenges, for the transition to college. Lesley, Curry and College of New England might be possibilities. Lesley is very supportive and is artsy as well, and in Cambridge.

She’s already a junior and isn’t terribly responsible with homework. Although a college with good support is great, no one is going to coach her to get her work done. She will have to seek support. Professors are pretty merciless with regard to late assignments, etc… Unless things change quite a bit in the next year, this sounds to me like a student who might struggle with the new freedoms and responsibilities that come with being in college.

I personally think a job is a GREAT idea. If she can show that she can handle having a job, that bodes well for being at college. I also think a gap year is a good idea. They’re really popular now, and there are so many things students can do with gap years.

I know a number of students who have taken gap years, and not one of
them regrets it. My own daughter, who started college at 17 and is very organized, has said she wishes she had taken time off between high school and college. Maybe if you present her with a bunch of good gap year options, she will be more open to the idea.