Son 19 flunked college..now what?

texasoneJune 5, 2010

My oldest son 19 made a great ACT score and was sent to

college on his money grandparents set aside for him.

He flunked out first semester and was given another

semester to regroup. He never got up and went to

classes so he quit second semester and came home telling

us he would go to Jr. college this Fall. We told him he

had to be in school or work full time until Jr. college

started. Now he doesn't want to go to Jr. college but

doesn't make enough at his job to be able to move out

on his own. He's stuck in a low paying dead end job and

living at home with no goals for his life. We live in a

small town so there are few good jobs. He hates his life

because he doesn't know what to do with himself and has

little motivation to get where he wants to be.

What is the next step as parents we take with our son?

We realize he needs to grow up but how do we help him

do that? What should we expect from him.....

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popi_gw

At least he has a job, it could be worse.

He is still young, it may take time for him to work out a good plan for his future. What are his role models like, I mean you and his father..do you have good jobs ? Do you have interests going on in your lives ?

What sort of pressure are you putting on him to sort himself out ? If he is under a lot of strain...perhaps you could take a different tack..encourage, not discourage.

There must be something he is interested in.

Does it matter if he is still living at home ?

He was a good student at school, he gave college a go..he has shown that he is capable of working towards a goal so keep that in mind.

Maybe time and encouragement will be his greatest friends.

All the best to you.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 1:49AM
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daisyinga

I have a 20 year old and a 17 year old. One strategy I've used for a lot of their lives is to make it easier or more appealing for them to do what I want them to do, and make it more difficult and less appealing for them to do the things I don't like. So I think what I'd do if this was my son would be to first charge him rent. I wouldn't tell him that I was saving it for him, but I'd save it for him to help him get into an apartment later.

The second thing I'd do would be to have chores for him to do, lots of chores. As an adult part of the household now, it would be fair to expect him to pull his weight doing yard work, cooking, etc. Have him clean out the attic or garage, install a sprinkler system in your yard, or something like that.

The third thing I'd do would be to stop giving him money (if you're doing that). Stop paying for car repairs, any personal expenses he can't afford, etc. I would want my son to see what life is really going to be like if he has to support himself forever in a low-paying, dead-end job.

I'd couple those things together with perhaps some career counseling. I'd try to expose my son to various careers he might enjoy. For my kids it was and is very difficult to decide what they want to do with their lives - they are most familiar with careers like that of their parents, or careers like teaching, nursing, fire-fighting, etc. There are so many other careers my kids had no idea existed. Because you live in a small town, you may not have the options my kids had. But my son was able to intern with a local judge, my daughter is volunteering in a utilities department, etc. Is there any way your son can do some volunteer work or unpaid work in an area of interest, to get a feel for a possible career choice? Can he work part time unpaid as an apprentice at a trade that interests him? At least that way he could learn skills that would help him as an adult, even if they don't lead to a career path. Can he help do a Habitat for Humanities project or join a church mission trip that repairs houses, etc., and learn some skills?

If you think his problem is lack of confidence, then perhaps you can help him get involved in something that boosts his confidence and helps him feel self-reliant. Maybe camping, or rock climbing, or some type of volunteer work for a very worthwhile cause.

I would also look into AmeriCorps. I know a young man who didn't know what he wanted to do with his life and went into AmeriCorps after high school. He did a stint with AmeriCorps and then went into college, and that experience was very good for him.

As a 19-year-old my son worked construction one very hot, humid summer down in a valley that trapped the heat. He spent a significant part of the time shoveling broken concrete. It changed his attitude about doing boring work in an air-conditioned office or classroom. He told me at the end of that summer that if ever he needed motivation to finish his engineering degree, he'd just remember that shovel and that was all the incentive he needed to never, ever have to do that kind of labor in the hot sun again. I hope it also gave him an appreciation and respect for the laborers all around the world who work so hard in unpleasant conditions to build our schools, roads, water treatment plants, etc.

The military is an excellent career for some young men who don't have any direction in their lives. That may be an option for your son, too.

I wouldn't let my son sleep late, lay around playing video games, and spend his money on movies and video games, etc. The young men I know who do that wind up disheartened, discouraged, with very little confidence. They don't have the motivation to get up and make something of their lives, but they aren't happy, either.

Good luck with your son! This is a hard age for many kids - it's hard for some young men to focus on college when they don't have a clue what they want to do and can't see the usefulness of their education. It is discouraging for them, and some of them do need their parents to help them get a long term perspective on the importance of an education or learning a trade.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 10:25AM
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popi_gw

Excellent advice, Daisy !

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 12:55AM
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asolo

"...he doesn't know what to do with himself and has
little motivation to get where he wants to be."

Interesting sentence. No goals, no motivation, but he knows where he want's to be? Apparently where he wants to be is in your furnished, rent-free, food-free home while he dithers away his youth. I encourage you not to allow it.

Time to leave the nest. That would be your home and your little town. From your description, this recalcitrant young man who seems unable to get on with his life sounds like a good candidate for the military. They'll motivate him.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 10:09AM
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WorldNeedsYou

You have already received some good advice here. Perhaps I can shed some light from a different perspective.

As a former university lecturer/adviser, I can tell you the main reasons 1st-time college students flunk out are:

1. They have no goals
2. They dislike their major or school
3. They are 'forced' into a path they don't want

To paraphrase Richard Bolles (author of What Color is Your Parachute), when our children have difficulty finding direction, it isn't necessarily a lack of knowledge about college majors or careers, it is a lack of knowledge about themselves.

Daisyinga's ideas of career counseling and job shadowing can be very beneficial for young people. Even if they don't determine what it is they want, they can certainly discover what they don't like. In addition career coaching, done well, may not help your son find the perfect long-term path, but it should give him a better understanding of his strengths, motivations, etc. that will set him on a positive course.

I hope this is of some help to you.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:44PM
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azzalea

I wouldn't say my dd flunked out of college, but her grades were poor enough that we pulled her out of the pricey university she was attending and brought her home. Hey, it wasn't worth paying the thousands that place was costing us for the grades she was producing.

In her case, she didn't argue about going to community college. She had no real goal in mind at that point, but did go fulltime, taking general ed classes. About 2 years later she settled on a major--and now is a successful optician.

She was welcome to live home AS LONG as she PAID RENT. It was enough to make her feel the pinch of responsibility, but certainly not as much as she'd have paid for an apt. She also had to shoulder the responsibility of the expenses of her car, and pay her own tuition and books. Like the poster above, I never told her I was saving her rent--but I was, putting it in the account that had the leftover $$$ from her college account. Years later, she had an unexpected nest egg that helped her buy her first condo.

Anyway, I agree that the best help you can give the boomerang student is to let them know that they're welcome to come home to live, and that you'll be supportive of their decisions, but they--in turn--are now adults and need to take on the responsibilities any adult has--paying for their housing, their own expenses (like car, health insurance if they're no longer eligible to be on yours, etc). As well as doing their share of work around the house--be it cleaning, leaf raking, shovelling snow, etc.

Especially with him being a boy, you have to use a bit of patience. They do mature even more slowly than girls do. I can tell you that NOT ONE of dd's friends finished college and went to work in the field they THOUGHT they were going to pursue when they entered college. Many changed majors, many ended up working at things totally different from what they got their degrees in, and some didn't finish. In DD's case--she's an optician, who started college planning to be an international journalist.

Hang in there, be patient, continue to teach your son about responsibility. If he comes to you questioning a decision he needs to make, be sure he understands the 5 step decision-making process (so many of these responsibility areas aren't taught in school--it's up to the parents to make sure their children are prepared for life). Just know that at his age, his brain's center for logical thinking isn't fully mature yet. His decisions are being dictated by the 'emotional' thinking part of his brain. Logical thinking doesn't generally kick in fully until we're in our mid-20's. He's got a few years to get to that point, yet.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 7:24PM
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powermuffin

Ok, so I like the ideas presented here - charge them rent, put them to work, etc. What if they have no source of income? How long do you give them to find a job and what do you do if they don't?
Diane

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 3:31PM
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colleenoz

They would need to show that they were making genuine efforts to find work, call a number of potential employers and want ads daily, attend interviews, be willing to accept anything legal- flipping burgers, cleaning, whatever, though if they accepted a job that wasn't high on the wish list, be looking for something else.
Household chores would also be a given.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 9:41AM
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