View Full Version : How do you do college?


Tisha
09-30-14, 10:16 AM
I'm a parent of a current college student, age 21. He started his 3rd year this semester, but only has 36 credit hours. He was diagnosed with ADHD-NOS..he doesn't have inattentive or hyperactivity. He more has executive Functioning deficits. We've been dealing with this since high school. We knew he wasn't ready for college, but let him go anyway.

Freshman year was a disaster, on academic probation once, withdrew and failed a couple of classes. 2nd year was better, but still had to withdraw from 2 classes and failed another. Basically he only has 1 years worth of credits thus far and a 2.1 GPA.

We are paying full ride, so it's basically $18K a year. He helps out by paying all his descretionary money from summer jobs.

He starts out thinking he can do well, but he never can. He will go to study groups, but won't seek out private tutoring on campus, although it is free. He is on medication and swears he isn't depressed.

So far this year, he's not doing well again. I think he just "can't" do academics. He obviously doesn't like to study, but he's always saying he will do better...but it seems like he's spinning his wheels.

So..my question: Are you all FT students or PT students. Do your parents foot the bill? Are you going to CC, do you live at home? I think it's just ridiculous for us to be paying this kind of money to live away, and think that at the end of the school year if things aren't better, it's time to come home and regroup. Go to CC, work. I know it will be traumatic...but not sure how to do this, or what the best route is for him. Thanks for any insight as to how you have been doing it, what your parents have done (or if a parent is reading this...how you've handled these situations).

sarahsweets
09-30-14, 10:33 AM
Here's the thing: with an adhd kid its important to keep things low key and ease into things. I don't know if it's a 4 year school but if it is that could be an issue. No college kid knows what they want to do and this is even more true for an adhd kid. My son is super smart. Great grades with little effort. He is adhd and unsure of his future so we are starting him at a community college with a couple of classes. Its cheaper, generally easier, and he can always transfer to a 4 year school. He's only going to go part time and work for now to see how things go. Slow transitions and small workload are key.

Tisha
09-30-14, 10:53 AM
I wish I could turn back the clock and do that, but not sure if it would have worked at that point in time. He was very difficult to live with and none of us were getting along very well. Peace reigned over the house when he left, and it (sorry to say) was worth the $18K that first year to not have him home.

Fast forward 2 years. He's matured ALOT emotionally. We get along in the summers and breaks, but we also have been giving him the freedoms that his age requires. No more teenage angst, I guess is what i'm saying.

But now here we are, at this crucial crossroads. It does sound like a PT schedule, working and living at home would be the best route if this year doesn't go well. But, I know, none of us want that. Personally, i think you did the BEST thing!

pooka
09-30-14, 12:21 PM
I'm a first year student, full time at a 4-year college across the country from home.

No ADHD kid likes to study. Some (like me) can get away with it. Others (like your son, from what I gather) can't.

My parents are paying for my education but I did receive a half-tuition merit scholarship as part of the honors program I'm in. My parents will continue to pay my tuition as long as I uphold the GPA standards required of the honors program and my scholarship.

Your son is definitely not going to graduate on time, if at all. Honestly I'd say whether you try to make this work depends on what kind of job he wants to go into and how necessary a degree would be. My father, who has ADHD, failed out of college then worked for a few years and took community college classes until he was ready to reapply to a 4yr school (he ended up going on to business school and becoming pretty successful). My younger brother has NLD and will be applying to colleges next year, but he'll probably start with community college or maybe spend a gap year working before he goes to college. At some point your son will probably have to realize that the traditional route might not be right for him, and that that's totally okay.

Tisha
09-30-14, 12:42 PM
Thank you Pooka for sharing your story and your father's story, also. We told him before he even went to college that he didn't have to if he thought academics were not for him. We would help him find another path that didn't need a college degree...and if sometime in the future he decided he wanted one, we would help him pursue that.

However, at that point, he hadn't a clue of what he wanted to do...just get away from us was the goal. He is trying to get into the business school, but has no real passion in doing so.

Thanks for your honesty and the inspiring story of your father. I just don't want him to lose hope or become depressed. My younger son is a senior in H.S. and has ADHD-attentive. He is different in that he is able to study and is motivated to do well. His is purely working memory issues rather than executive functioning problems.

Good luck in school!

Stevuke79
09-30-14, 01:22 PM
If I were you, I would ask him if he WANTS to be in college, and if the answer is "no" or "I don't know" (basically anything except "Yes), let him put college on hold.

College, at $18,000/year, is NOT a DEFAULT. An entry-level job is default. I couldn't finish college at his age (money for tuition was also an issue for me, but who knows if I would have finished had money not been a problem). At 28, I had a reason to go back and finish, and I did.

I would suggest that he has to make a decision. What do you want to do, and do it. And one day if he decides he wants a degree, he'll do it then. It will be easier too - he'll know why he's there. Which is CRUCIAL when you have this disorder.

Tisha
09-30-14, 01:30 PM
Hi Steve. We've pretty much talked ourselves silly. We almost pulled him out after that first semester and he wrote us a very long letter about why he wanted to stay in college. So, the answer is a definite YES. I think it is a combination of things in his mind: 1) that is what you have to do to get a good job 2) that is what all his peers are doing 3) he doesn't want to live at home 3) quitting or being pulled out is equivalent to failing and that would be humiliating 4) he hasn't a clue what he would do.

To be honest, I'm never sure what to do when his grades start to fail. Do I make him drop them, as F's would really wreck his GPA and resume in the future or do I let him Fail so he understands he can't do it and that's our reason to pull him out.

I agree...a job is the default not the $18K. It's just a really hard decision to make for us, as parents.

Flory
09-30-14, 01:47 PM
I think perhaps maybe you should decide whether or not college is appropriate at this stage. I find a more hands on learning experience far more valuable such as a vocational apprenticeship. :)

Stevuke79
09-30-14, 01:47 PM
I can totally understand how you feel. And I saw that you gave him the option of not going to college. I thought that was really impressive and I think it's showed you're really good and smart parents. Just a little more of my 2-cents if you think I'm being at all helpful.

1) that is what you have to do to get a good job
2) that is what all his peers are doing
3) he doesn't want to live at home
3) quitting or being pulled out is equivalent to failing and that would be humiliating
4) he hasn't a clue what he would do.

I know you realize this - in fact you pretty much said it. None of those is a reason to go to college.

As a kid I financed my own education. I know that as a parent it's very difficult to decide to stop funding a child's education, but I think it might help him a lot if you could let him do that. All his reasons: "my peers are doing it", "I want to live in a dorm, not at home", "what else would I do",.. those are reasons to let your parents send you to college. They probably aren't reasons to pay $18K out of your own pocket. What you would be doing is helping him to make a REAL decision about this.

One little idea for you,.. perhaps he could take loans for as much as he can, and work part time for the rest (if there is any). I advise people on matters like this for a living, and when people ask me about how they should pay for college, I often suggest they use student loans and make a decision later whether the kid pays back the loans or you pay them back. My main point is that it should cost him something.

As much as a part time job sounds like a burden for an already struggling student, it might help him better organize his time and help him better focus on his studies (he's paying for it,.. at least partially).

Or let me put it this way, ... if he has to come up with even a meager $3,000 to be there (out of his pocket now, not loans), one way or another, he will NOT just sit there and fail.

Tisha
09-30-14, 02:09 PM
Steve and Flory...much wise and sound advice. I think we are heading this way. We signed a year lease for an apt. this school year (actually until next August, as it's a 12 month lease). It wasn't cheap at all, and I think we will let him stay the school year because of that. We won't be able to get out of it. But...let's talk strategy!

He has until 10/22 to withdraw from classes. If he is failing any, would it be better for us to tell him he can't drop them? Does letting him have this "out" just encourage him to flounder about and procrastinate...knowing if he fails he can just drop them. Wouldn't it be better to pay the piper at the end..let the chips fall where they may? That is more telling for him? (I think I just answered my own question). What are your thoughts?

Stevuke79
09-30-14, 02:20 PM
Steve and Flory...much wise and sound advice. I think we are heading this way. We signed a year lease for an apt. this school year (actually until next August, as it's a 12 month lease). It wasn't cheap at all, and I think we will let him stay the school year because of that. We won't be able to get out of it. But...let's talk strategy!

You can turn that into a good thing. Let this be his year of transition.

He has until 10/22 to withdraw from classes. If he is failing any, would it be better for us to tell him he can't drop them? ...Wouldn't it be better to pay the piper at the end..

Maybe. Maybe not.

I think if he's on the hook for a few grand, then he can make that decision for himself. Even if you feel it's too late to make him pay for this year, set the rules for next year now.

This may even prompt him to drop classes he is failing without you telling him - he want to make sure that as long as you're paying he's being as productive as possible.

I think that when people are made to take responsibility for themselves, they figure out how to answer all these questions.

Stevuke79
09-30-14, 02:23 PM
By the way, .. if he's taking responsibility, then even if he makes mistakes it's for the best. If it's his money, then when he makes a mistake that's just a learning experience.

I probably spent an unnecessary $20,000 on credits that I have nothing to show for (I have a degree,.. but those particular dollars were a mistake). I think the lesson I learned has paid off many fold.

Tisha
09-30-14, 02:25 PM
Thanks. However, this is the problem with Executive Dysfuntion...long term goal setting and execution.

I wish this country wasn't so hell bent on having to have a college education to get by in life. We need plumbers, electricians, firemen, police officers, heating/cooling technicians, on and on. It's too bad so many kids feel this is "beneath" them. 70-80 years ago most people DIDN'T go to college after high school and could earn a very good living raising a family...the "middle class" was this countries strength. It's harder and harder now.

Stevuke79
09-30-14, 02:47 PM
Thanks. However, this is the problem with Executive Dysfuntion...long term goal setting and execution.

You're right, EFD can be very crippling. It's not his fault nor anyone elses that he suffers from it, and you're right to appreciate and how hard it will be to learn to cope with this disorder.

burger
09-30-14, 09:43 PM
Are his meds working? I imagine you can devise tests to see if they are. Maybe switching meds might help?

If your son lacks interest in school and has no real plan or goal after three years I would be concerned and look further into it and maybe get a path set out. If you don't plan out your courses and look at degree requirements you might end up with useless credits and wasted time. I think courses expire 5 or 6 years after you take them. If your son is going to fail a class you should probably figure out if it's a reasonably certain thing or just a maybe. Some courses have really high fail rates. If your son has a bad academic record and withdraws, etc... he may not be accepted into the same school again or other schools. So even if he wants to go back to school he may not be able to. You could also consider sending your son to a different school. Not all schools are the same difficulty and some are jokes compared to others. His diploma might not be very well recognized though.

I would push for the free tutoring that you mentioned in your post for many reasons. If there is a problem then the tutor should be able to see it and identify it. Self awareness is often hard for ADD people and our views of how we act and what we do is often inaccurate so having a person watching might bring to light some other issues that even your son isn't aware of. I think the free tutor would also add accountability because he would have to face them one on one instead of being able to hide in a group. My guess is the free tutor is going to cause him discomfort and push him mentally so like a normal ADD person he will avoid it. Depending on how concerned you feel I would consider even going as far as calling and talking to the tutor for independent updates.

It also sounds like your son isn't really grown up or mature enough to have a well rounded and informed view of life after high school. He kind of sounds like a teenager who has just entered the adult world and is trying to find a place but lacks the experience and knowledge to do so effectively. It's fairly normal. Maybe he needs more time to mature or maybe a different environment.

Tisha
10-01-14, 08:43 AM
Burger..you are very right about the delayed maturity. I told DH that his maturity level, in all respects, seems to be about where his peers were as Seniors in H.S. My current Sr. in H.S. is more focused, has more self control and more common sense than his older brother. There really is that 3 year delay, I think. I also didn't really consider him not being able to get back into the college he's in..that is a real consideration that I need to think about with DH.

He doesn't have inattentive or hyperactivity, so he really doesn't need the meds for working memory, etc. But he is says without them, he just doesn't feel like doing anything. i told him to just drink some coffee in the morning, and he says he does, but the meds help. I do have to say he acts "blah" and sluggish without them and more "normal" when he takes them. He's on Vyvanse.

I will continue to push those tutors..but I have so much the last 2 years and he WILL NOT do it and it makes me want to pull out my hair (and his!)