A.B. asks from Reston, VA on October 21, 2009
My step-son met his girlfriend over this past summer just before going off to college. This is his first love and now he wants to transfer to the college that his girlfriend attends. Of course, the college is in another statem which means out of state tuition. I think he should stay at the college he attends, if the relationship is meant to be then it will last...any thoughts?
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A.B. answers from Washington DC on October 22, 2009
Agreed. Teach him now to stick to his plans. If he transfers, he loses the time he's already put in, possibilities for scholarships, may have to spend MORE time in college than can be afforded. If it's real love, it will last in spite of the distance.
R.B. answers from Los Angeles on October 22, 2009
A few quick thoughts: Many schools have study abroad programs. He may be able to have a semester or year at her school as an exchange student/visiting student without transferring and usually the financial aid and tuition remains at the home school, thus not having to pay out of state costs. Then after being together a transfer can be reevaluated. Also, what if you sit with him as an adult, since he is trying to make adult decisions and discuss the realities of a transfer with a pen and paper and a calculator. Then maybe offer him a sum of money (say $1000 for the year) to be used to help invest into their relationship, buy 2 computer cameras and a Skype account; help him find discounted and creative ways for them to see each other; help him pay for him to go to her at least once a month or six weeks and hopefully she'll be able to come to him once a month, thus making it only 2-3 weeks between visits. This will show him that you respect their relationship, are supporting their relationship, and teaching them the realities of being in an adult relationship. And you can set up a guideline that this financial support is conditional on him doing well in his current school of choice. Because if he is not doing well academically he may not be able to make the transfer happen, even if and when he wants to and you agree, her college may not even accept him. I agree it would be good to help him remember why he choose his school in the first place. This is an opportunity for the two of you to begin to redefine your relationship into an adult child and parent relationship. My advice is to tread softly and respectfully and it will be appreciated and will have long term positive effects, rather than it's my dime, do it my way. Good Luck.
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K.F. answers from Washington DC on October 22, 2009
Well, if you are helping him pay for his college, he would not be wise to transfer to an out of state school....I would not fork the bill out for 'love,' especially since he is so young and has only been with her since summer...these things come and go and he may even find a nice girl in the college he is in now and forget about the other one - is he truly ready to settle down at the beginning of his college days?? If so, I would tell him he can wait - no need to be impetuous - he needs to save up money to support a wife any way - and he won't be able to do that as easily with huge college tuition bills....he needs to set himself up for success. If you are trying to convince him, there are plenty of good 'waiting' stories that are more romantic than the 'we dated and I moved in and then we broke up and it was the biggest mistake of my life' stories. For example: My husband and I met online and we were 3.5 hours apart. We dated for a year long distance and then he was sent to Iraq for a year. I waited for him and when he got back we started planning for our wedding and about 6 months later, we got married. Most of our relationship was long distance, but this gave us strength when we did get married to weather the storms and really appreciate the time we have/had together. And mind you, we were older and he was already in the military and I had graduated from college and at that point we were ready for a long term commitment. There were other guys out there that wouldn't have waited that long for me or I for them...they were not worth it! My husband was the one that was saved for me - and the other romances didn't last. Sometimes long distance can also help you get to know the other person without life getting in the way - letters, emails, phone calls, the actual trips made to see each other - that is what builds on solid long lasting relationships, not just proximity. Hope this helps!
B.C. answers from Norfolk on October 22, 2009
Can the girl transfer to his collage? She probably has the same problems with transferring as your step-son has. If it's meant to be, the relationship will survive being long distance till one or both are graduated. My husband and I dated 9 years, went to different collages and wrote and called each other a lot, visited every couple weekends and we waited till we were out of collage 1 year before we got married. We just celebrated our 20 anniversary. Growing up means making plans that will make your future possible. A collage degree for each of them will help their employment chances and that will build a sound basis for a family and whatever else might be in their future. Living on love is a nice dream. Living on love with food on the table and a roof over your head makes it a lot more workable.
Did I mention all the writing I did to him sometimes more than once a day? And all the phone calls he made to me? Visiting each other whenever we could (and sometime we could only visit once a month). He's kept every letter I ever wrote to him all these years. Of course it takes effort, and email makes it possibly easier now, but it's hard to scent an email and a lot harder to keep it as a remembrance of a lifetime.
A.G. answers from Washington DC on October 22, 2009
I feel that the financial and other issues with going out of state or if the school is a poor choice for his major should be the major problems here. Personally, I do not feel like transfering to a school where one's girlfriend attends is a bad thing. Other than wanting to be with her more often, he has probably heard many things about her school that make him want to be there as well.
It is rare for pre-college relationships to last through college, I would say it is even more rare for them to last if there is a long distance separation (the only people I know who made that work were very strickly religious or going to a military college where it was unlikely that trust issues would come into play). Trust and the influence of other single friends is usually the stressor on relationships that are long distance, not anything inherent to the couple.
My husband and I were high school sweethearts and we did go to college together out of state. Everything depends on the couple. We were stabilizing influences on each other. We both expected each other to do well and to hold our behavior to certain standards. Both of us had a more mature outlook than our single friends and I think part of that was because of our influence on each other. For example, my then boyfriend was out drinking or partying with his friends a lot less often because he was spending time with me. Also he would have never dreamed of either drinking and driving or getting in the car with somene who had been drinking because he knew there would be hell to pay if I heard about it.
A.L. answers from Washington DC on October 21, 2009
I suggest making him stick it out at his current college for the remainder of this school year. Then, if he wants to transfer you'll have to figure out how to pay the difference in tuition. Maybe if you tell him he'll have to pay the difference, he'll change his mind and stay at his current school.
Seriously though, you're right. If it is meant to be, it will last despite the distance. However, if he's not happy at his current school then he may not do well which would be a waste of money and time. As an incentive to keep him at the in-state school, you could offer to pay for his travel to see his girlfriend once or twice a semester. Afterall, he chose that school for a reason. It may be the best one for his future career, which is what college is for. The relationship will last if it is meant to be.
However, no matter what you decide to do about letting him transfer, I would make him stay where he is this year. My parents made me stay at my selected college the first year (I got there and didn't like it but they made me stay my entire freshman year and said I could transfer after that). I'm so glad they made me stay. I didn't like my school until about February or March of my freshman year, but then I settled in, made lots of friends and I'm so glad I stayed! I think that was a great thing my parents did. I'm 39 now and I'm still so thankful to them for making me stick it out. I learned so many lessons from just sticking it out.
Maybe your step-son's relationship won't even last the school year, and then it isn't an issue.
Good luck with your decision.
A.V. answers from Washington DC on October 22, 2009
I'd lay out everything with him. What degree he's going for, if the school has that degree and/or is actually good with that subject (there may be a difference), what the costs are, how HE is going to fill the gap, what will he do if they break up, etc. He needs to find out how the transfer works, what (if any) of his credits will be accepted, etc. And what if he doesn't get accepted to that school? That's not a guarantee, either.
My stepson went to a different school than his GF and they broke up. They chose schools based on their futures, figuring as you put it that if it's meant to be, it would work out.
If he wants to change, and people do transfer, then he needs to look at the whole picture. Will this put him back a year with credits that won't transfer? Will this mean he gets a job or a loan on his own dime to cover the new costs? My husband gave my stepson a budget. This is what we can give you. The rest is up to you, be it via your mom, work or loans. I would not just pony up money because he wants to follow his girlfriend. If he wants to make adult choices, he has to take some adult responsibility, in my opinion. Parental payment for college is a privilege, not a right.
If my stepson thought it out, we'd probably give him our blessing. But he knows our $ support runs out after 4 years so if a transfer or changing majors puts him back a year or a semester, that's something he needs to consider.
Oh, and I agree with the first year mark. We asked my stepson to give his major one year (because his program is hard to get in but easy to get out of) and if after that he was just sick of it, we wouldn't hassle him about changing. But we didn't want him to quit because of one tough semester and we also didn't want to make him stay til he'd be stuck with credits he couldn't really use later. He's doing an "exploratory" semester right now where he's trying out a bunch of different subjects and will re-declare in the spring.
It's also a good point to ask if she's considered changing for him. Or is it a matter of him being overzealous and changing for her when maybe she doesn't feel the same way he does?
M.G. answers from Chicago on October 21, 2009
Hi, I just moved from Reston, VA. What a lovely town! I wouldn't have him transfer for a girl. This is his first love. Out of state tuition is a big deal. Explain that to him. I agree if it's meant to be, it will last.
B.W. answers from Washington DC on October 22, 2009
While I often take the stand you (If it's meant to be...)what if you allowed him to transfer under the condition that he is responsible for making up the difference in tuition costs. I know it seems harsh, but maybe he won't call your bluff. I believe that could really make him take a deeper look at what this reltionship really means to him. Also, has anyone talked to the girlfriend? Is she this devoted to him and their relationship or will your son transfer only to find out that maybe she was not on the same page as he....something to consider. Best of luck!