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College Student Has Lesson to Learn

Question

I am a single mom of ten years to one son. He just completed his first semester of college at a Christian school. His faith is stronger than ever, he met some great people, was selected to be a bible study group leader, and he made the basketball pep band. The problem: He got a .9 GPA. He finished high school with a 3.4 in all AP honor classes. He did not attend last semester's classes, which greatly affected his grades. I do not know what to do! I feel like at the least he should go back and retake the courses to improve his GPA, but I really don't know.

Answer

For a parent to know that their child is growing in their faith, involved in a bible study, and active in activities while on a college campus will bring some peace of mind. However, let us not forget that the primary purpose to attend any post-secondary schooling is to prepare one to become a self-sufficient and contributing member of society. Your son's high school academic record is a clear indication that he is not in over his head, and has actually made a choice to give no effort. I am sure he has given you a list of excuses as to why he did so poorly and assures you that this semester will be different. Being on academic probation (my assumption) will provide a little incentive, but the reality is that until his irresponsibility becomes a problem for him nothing will change. Let's hypothetically say room/board, fees, and tuition costs $15,000 a semester. A full-time student typically carries 15 credits and the semester is made up of 15 weeks. The bottom line is that it cost your family $1,000 a week for your son to not attend class and basically fail every course.

Now I cannot speak to the struggles you faced as a single parent for the last decade, but it sounds like when considering his Christian faith and high school performance you prepared him well. I figure you have two options: 1.) Allow him to return for the second semester and hope that he comes to his senses by making a 180' change for the better. 2.) Your son does not return for the second semester, finds full-time employment, and begins to make payments for the resources he squandered during the first semester. My recommendation would be the latter with the understanding that he can return next fall if he upholds his end of the bargain, i.e., secures employment and begins to pay off "his debt." Also, there is no reason why he could not make up some lost credits at a local Community College during the interim.

Experience tells me that conversations by you, pastors, or family members will have little impact on your son's behavior. To change the way he thinks and acts, you really must let yourself off the hook and place the monkey on his back. If he is truly remorseful for the position he is currently in, then he will be willing to make amends according to your terms.

I wish you the very best and please let us know how it goes.

Sincerely,

David Martin
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
412 925 9882
57djmartin@gmail.com

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