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She told us she was not going to college...

Parents Support One Another @ = I need help with the following issue:

My wife and I started this program with our daughter several weeks ago.  Last week she told us she was not going to college next year and was going to travel with two guys and couch surf around various parts of the country. 

We told her we didn't support it and that she had the following choices:
1.  Join a program like AmeriCorps for th year.
2.  Work PT and go to college PT locally.
3.  Go to school FT.

She refused all three and said she was going to do what she wanted.  We told her that if this was course she insisted on following, then when she turned 18 in two weeks, she needed to find another place to live.  We took back her keys to a third car we let her us, took back her laptop we gave her for college, took back her cell phone that we pay for.   She then said I'm leaving now and left the house and is staying with a friend of hers.   She gets good grades, doesn't drink or do drugs, but in the past year has become so defiant, radical (we think she's been brainwashed by this guy friend she wants to travel with) and disrespectful that we are at our wits end.    We love her dearly and only want to get a good start with her life, but she seems determined that she wants it to be difficult and dangerous.

Please help with any advice.

L & D.



Back in the old days, a kid could get by with a high school education; even dropouts fared well, usually following some sort of trade path or apprenticeship. Then, too, in those days, a handshake was as good as a signature on most contracts, such as home buying, and credit was extended based on personal references versus an arbitrary decision made by faceless credit bureaus.

Today, things have certainly changed. Many kids still drop out of high school; some obtain merely a GED and even those with diplomas have difficulty finding a job, let alone a career. The airwaves are filled with ads for second-class trade schools, promising certification in a number of fields in a matter of months. Part of the issue, too, is the sense of entitlement and instant gratification that permeates our culture.

The problem with many of these types of schools is the lack of support after graduation and the realities of the fine print, which most students don't bother to read - they see only that, in a few short months, they can be "certified" to do a job. It doesn't occur to them that many, many others are qualified and that some, even, have a much fuller, more well-rounded college education. This is their competition.

Adolescents being what they are, they don't listen overly well to older, wiser voices. They think they know what is best, and college may not be it. How does a parent cope with refusal to attend college? Well, there are several components to this question.

To begin, speak of college occasionally throughout your youngster's life - make it a given, understood that college follows high school, and treat it as a fact. Your youngster will attend college, period. This is a good strategy, especially if the comments increase as the youngster ages and are accompanied with offhand remarks about location, news, degree programs, interests, and so forth.

If you haven't done this, and even if you have and it doesn't seem to be working, all is not lost. Just remember that, even if your teen has college-age friends, they may still be pretty clueless about the ins and outs of college life and the opportunities available. Take some time to talk to them about their interests, and time to impart some basic information on these things, such as living in the dorms, class schedule and credits, extra-curriculars and of course, financial aid.

Suppose either or both strategies are successful; your youngster enrolls in college and starts classes. You may very likely never know how your youngster is doing, or whether or not he's even consistently attending class. US privacy laws today are so stringent that, most freshmen being eighteen years old and considered "adults", even a parent is unable to be informed about their academic progress or lack thereof - in spite of the moms and dads usually footing the tuition bill and providing other things like housing, food, and so forth.

If your youngster doesn't keep you up-to-date, enjoy your state of blissful ignorance as long as possible. At the end of the semester, you'll find out and you'll likely be disappointed or even angry that your youngster has "failed". Please keep in mind that it is your youngster who has failed, not you personally and not you as a parent.

Remember when your toddler first began to walk? You spread the news, basking in the knowledge that you, as a parent, must be doing it right! Then came temper tantrums, in public places, and you were mortified that everyone must think you were a horrible parent. Ah, the light begins to dawn - we are quick to take credit, slow to take blame. However, remember always this one important point: your youngster is an individual, not an extension of you. You can do everything "right" and still not have things turn out the way you want or expect.

Try to find out why your youngster failed: lack of preparation, academically or emotionally? Laziness? Inability to do the work? Depression or some other mental or emotional issue? Perhaps, just maybe, your youngster is not college material - he might not, really, be smart enough, or dedicated enough, or interested enough.

Again, this is no reflection on you, it's all on your youngster, the individual who must do the work - or not.

At this point, you have several choices. You could toss him out on his behind to make his own way in the world; you could insist he return to college; or you could sit down and work with him to help him determine the best choice for his future.

Many moms and dads are so disappointed and upset that they choose the first one. This may not be all bad, because some kids just can't be reasoned with or instructed at all - they need a taste of reality. Some moms and dads insist on enrolling their youngster in the next semester, willing to do anything to get them to attend college. Most are likely crushed at the resultant failure of yet another 4-5 classes.

The third choice is the best.

Swallow your disappointment, keep your anger in check at least around the youngster in question, and formulate a plan. It's probably best to do this with your partner, make sure you are both on the same page, do some research, and take notes. Present a plan, or several possibilities, to your teen and have an honest, open discussion.

Keep in mind how involved you wish to be in this decision. You may provide a financial start, room and board, help find information, or all of these things. Or maybe none of them. You may give your teen a time limit to decide where to begin, or you may leave it open-ended. The danger in this latter is that, unmotivated, your teen may end up being a fixture in your basement for several years. Some moms and dads are okay with this, most are not. The end-goal of raising a youngster is just that - raising - and once that's accomplished, the youngster becomes an adult and should be responsible for himself, completely.

Your job is to give him the skills and knowledge to do this, and by the time college rolls around, whether he attends or not, he should be in possession of these. If he isn't, if college isn't working out for him, help him with planning and fill in any gaps that you may have missed over the years - or that he may have ignored - and prepare to boost (not boot!) him out of the nest.

College isn't for everyone, or even for immediately after high school. Take a deep breath, realize your youngster is an individual, and help him prepare to take the plunge - regardless of his choices.


We all want what we feel is best for our children. However, sometimes our children disagree. Going to college or on to any further or higher education comes at a point in many adolescent's lives when they are already feeling overwhelmed by advice and assumptions. A refusal to go to college can be cause by several things, but in many cases is it an assertion of your adolescent's individuality.

It is easy as a parent to get carried away with what you think your adolescent wants or should do, based on your own aspirations and not theirs. If you never had the opportunity to further your own education, it is natural to want your offspring to achieve more academically than you were able. If you have been paying into a college fund or savings account since your child was small, and your child knows this, it may feel like a bitter blow when they announce they do not want to go to college. It feels like all the financial sacrifices you have made are being thrown back in your face. There are other ways of seeing their decision than simply a willful refusal.

The first thing to ask when your adolescent refuses to go to college is, why? Try to sit down with them and have a reasoned discussion, not to convince them that they are wrong, but to simply find out what their reasons are. It may be that they have certain fears about moving to a new city far from home, or a fear of not living up to your or their own expectations. It could also be that they do not really know what subjects they want to take, or that they are feeling study fatigue after spending a good portion of their lives already in formal education. Whatever reasons they give, as a parent you need to listen to them without trying to change their minds at that point. Make sure they know that you are taking on board everything they have said, and that after giving it all some thought, you will want to discuss what options they have at a later (but not too much later) date.

The very worst thing you can do is to tell your adolescent that they are going to college no matter what they say or do. This will cause your adolescent to put up all their defenses and even if they do end up going to college they will resent being there and are unlikely to perform to the best of their ability. Blackmail is also not a good approach to take. By telling your adolescent that they owe it to you to go because you have saved for years on their behalf for the fees will just add to the pressure that they already feel under.

Approaching the situation with a calm and rational outlook is not easy, but will pay dividends in the long run. After considering what your adolescent has told you in your initial discussion, try to find some answers to their fears. If it is the distance away from home that is bothering them, are there any similar courses they can take that are closer to home or that will not mean them having to move out? If they are worried about making new friends, you could suggest that they investigate social media networks to chat to others in a similar situation and perhaps make friends before they arrive on campus. You could also suggest a mini vacation as a family to one or other of their original preferred destinations, to explore the area and get a feel for the local culture.

Another approach is to ask your adolescent what they propose to do instead of college. This puts the ball back in their court, gives them a feeling of control and may even surprise you with their answer. It may be that they want to get a job: in uncertain economic times, this may be a noble yet unattainable goal. Compromise by suggesting they put in their college application for the following year, and spend the interval looking for work. If they land a good job then they can always withdraw their application, and if they are unable to find work then they have their college place to fall back on.

Taking a "gap year" as it is known in Europe is a very popular way for those leaving school to break up their studies. It gives them the opportunity to gain some paid work experience, or to just volunteer, before focusing on their studies once again. Many adolescents spend part or all of the year travelling and broadening their horizons that way. Whatever they choose to do, it will give them an edge when it comes to applying for jobs or postgraduate study in the future.

If your adolescent's fears centre on not being good enough to succeed at an academic course, perhaps they would be better suited to a more vocational course of study. It may be possible to secure them an apprenticeship position, whereby they study for just one or two days or evenings each week, while working in a practical trade during the day. This often suits adolescents who have shown as aptitude for mechanics, cookery, childcare or animal husbandry. Investigating the part-time and evening study options available in your local area may help them decide if this is the right path for them to take.

Whatever reason your adolescent gives for not wanting to go to college, it is not the end of the world. Many thousands of people return to study later on in life with good results, even though they did not want to continue their education at the end of their schooling. Making sure that your adolescent is happy and focused is more important to their success as adults than pushing them into a college experience that they do not feel ready for or engaged in.


"I'm sick of school! I'm not going to college and you can't force me to!"

Your adolescent is right, you know. At the age of eighteen he or she is legally an adult...old enough to sign a legal document, old enough to join the military and old enough to refuse to go to college.

He now has the right of self-determination, and no matter how you feel about the decision your young adult has made, it may seem that there is not much you can do about it.

You, as a parent, are probably feeling anger, disappointment, and frustration. This young person may have always earned good grades. You have envisioned a bright future for him. Now your teen seems determined to throw it all away.

He is rebellious, defiant and unflinching. There will be no college in his immediate future and that is that!

The atmosphere after discussions of this type is usually tense and heated. Follow-up negotiations are best left until a later time when tempers have cooled.

While you're preparing for Round Two, review your position. You also have the right of self -determination and you are in a much more favorable position. You have age, experience and resources on your side. In contrast, the teen has only youth, inexperience, lack of training or skills for making a living, and few resources at his disposal.

Your best option is to accept his decision graciously, while making clear that you do not think it is the wisest choice. Then you will present these conditions:

• He must do his own washing. Mom no longer provides laundry service.
• If the young person wishes to be treated as an adult, so be it. However, sitting around home watching TV is not an option for a responsible adult. If he wishes to live at home, he or she must get a job and start paying board. Check the local paper for fair rates for room and board in your area.
• Meals are served at specific times in your home. Anyone missing one mealtime must wait for the next one.
• No in-room guests are allowed after 11:00 P.M.
• No more use of the family car. There will no longer be chauffeur service by a parent. When the teen needs transportation, a taxi or public transport must be utilized while he saves up for a car of his own.
• You may share that you have money saved for college, and it will be used only for that purpose. If this youngster does not wish to take advantage of it, it will be put away for the use of the first grandchild, (or niece or nephew) who attends an institute of higher learning.

After that, all you have to is stick to your resolve. Chances are, your young rebel will be in college within a year. Contemporary life is not easy for an unskilled worker with only a high school diploma.

It will not be easy watching your teen struggle to survive under the strict conditions you have imposed. Many parents find applying tough love principles are just as challenging for them as for the adolescent.

It is important that you have remain resolute and unyielding. Just remind yourself that your youngster's future well-being depends on your steadfastness now.

Someday, when he is settled, with steady, profitable employment, and enjoying a comfortable lifestyle, he will reward you with sincere and heartfelt thanks.

However, your ultimate reward will come when you watch him using the same tactics on his own adolescent.

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