what purpose he wanted to fulfill in his life. I counseled him as I had done for hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students over the years as well as his four siblings who had completed college. Although he protested my interrogation, I was able to encourage him to give his school a chance. I shared with him that he had not had enough seat time in class to really know or understand the education process at his school. I also reminded him that each year in high school, he had changed what he wanted to do with his life (9th grade – singer; 10th grade – photographer; 11th grade – graphic designer; 12th grade – fashion designer). Lastly, I explained to him the college transfer process and how transfer students get what is left over in scholarship dollars and financial assistance. I told
him he needed to wait. And wait he did. One aspect of the curriculum I found enticing and exciting at his school was that all first year students had to explore all of the art forms offered at the school. That was the best opportunity for Micah. Through his exploration of other art forms, he discovered another interest: namely film. He ended up creating film projects that were imaginative and professional. He took pleasure in completing his work, so much so that he made the Dean’s List his first semester, and his professors encouraged him to further explore film. Last week, he told me he will double major, and one of those majors will be in film. Micah has grown so much as an independent thinker and human being. His visits home are much needed
for both of us. He needs a break from the school environment and needs to make sure he is still my baby. I need to see him to continue to strengthen the mother/son bond we have shared these past 18-plus years. And when he is home, we both seek ways to capitalize on quality time spent together just talking, eating, or sharing quiet time. Micah will return to Baltimore in the fall a year older and wiser, and he will serve as a resident adviser in a dormitory. He continues to pursue humanitarian work and has landed a yearlong fellowship with Young People 4 that will allow him to fund his project ideas. Veda Pendleton McClain is the founder of Veda McClain Consulting and author of The Intentional Parenting Plan. She is a frequent contributor to Today’s Family magazine.
PARENTPERSPECTIVES My Own First Semester College Experience
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Academic Team Solid GPA Write the Perfect Essay
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College. It’s a given in my family. For me, it was something I worked hard toward in high school. Being involved in academic teams, maintaining a 3.8 GPA, and writing that perfect college application essay were steps I checked off of my “going to the University of Kentucky when I graduate” to-do list. Yes, I wanted to go away to school. I wanted to experience being the independent college student, even though I did not have an independent bone in my body. I wanted to major in journalism and go into the news media field. Guess what? I got homesick during those weeks of my very first semester. I had quarrels with my high-school-bestfriend-turned-UK roommate. I gained the Freshman 15. That fabulous 3.8 GPA shriveled up before my eyes. I suffered some, failed a little bit, and came home at winter break never again wanting to see Lexington: 70 Miles. My parents taught us to finish what you start. So I finished that first year at UK. Once I got through it, I transferred to the University of Louisville and graduated 4 ½ years later. I continued into graduate work and was successful. The lessons I learned from that experience that I will pass on to my children: 1. You’re going to college. 2. Finish what you start, but you don’t necessarily have to finish college where you start. There is something to be gained from flexibility and maintaining success while remaining happy and content where you are. — Erin Nevitt
Root Out the Problem Many parents receive calls like the one I received from Micah during the first year of college. Sometimes the issues the college freshman faces seem insurmountable, but trust me, they can be overcome. In order to deal with these issues, parents and students alike must be willing to get to the root of what is causing the problem.
Here are some tips:
1 Question your student about the issues that have prompted his desire to leave college. Ask questions about social and environmental issues as well. Sometimes there are concerns with other students (peer pressure, fraternity/sorority, bullying) and professors (class size, difficulty of classes, class load, homework assistance) that cause students to question their presence in college and their ability to succeed.
2 Have a candid conversation about your student’s gifts and talents and what majors at the college would allow her to use those talents. That’s where the personal and professional fulfillment comes into play.
3 Have your student complete the Family Educational Rights to Privacy Act (FERPA) form at the college registrar’s office. This signed form gives you permission to discuss his progress with professors, advisers, and administrators. That way you can get more information about what is really going on with him, whether it is a lack of accountability on his part or a true lack of interest in college.
4 Discuss other college and career options. If transferring is an option, discuss the transfer process and what that might mean with regard to a transfer of college credits, major, scholarship dollars, and financial assistance. Discuss the type of college that might best meet her needs. This is critical if a transfer is truly being considered.
5 Finally, listen to your child’s concerns with a heart of understanding, words of encouragement, and love. Our children need to know they are loved, no matter what they decide.
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