Advice to Deal with an Unhappy Teenager

Updated on April 07, 2008
D.T. asks from Breckenridge, TX
64 answers

I have a teenaged daughter that is in her second semester of college. She is a very bright young lady and school has always come very easy to her. As she was growing up, I have always harped on the importance of a good education and encouraged both my girls to do their best and take the honor courses. But my daughter has complained more than usual here lately, I think she may just be burned out with school. She asked me about taking a few semesters off, but I’m afraid if she doesn’t stick with it, she may not go back. I am just looking for some good advice on what to do or say to her.

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So What Happened?

Well, we all set down and talked it over. We decided that she needed to go to a smaller college. Well, she still going so I guess we won half the battle....thanks for all your advice.
Later D..

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C.G.

answers from Dallas on

She could probably use some time off. Maybe the two of you can work a "deal". Maybe a couple of semesters off (what does she plan to do with the time?) and then back to school.

Just a thought.

Sincerely, C. G

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J.W.

answers from Dallas on

What about suggesting that she gets a full-time job AND takes a class or two at the community college at night. By doing so, she keeps herself in school. The night class could be a core class or if she really hates college, have her take something fun like dance or art or singing or whatever she would be interested in and would enjoy.

D.D.

answers from Dallas on

speaking as a person that has been where you daughter is... let her take the time off. Or even better suggest that she get a part time job and take just a few classes at a junior college.

At this point it IS her life and her choice.

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S.R.

answers from Amarillo on

D.,
I've read most of these replies here and have a little different opinion, for what it's worth.
I would be more inclined to wonder what it is that is making her feel so uncomfortable in school? My husband and I are lifelong Christian folks, with college eductions, who are very disappointed in where college seems to lead for many young folks today. Dont get me wrong, college has its place, but for many, it is a time of temptation, frustration, pressures from peers, and confusion. I have a son right now, who has grown up in a Christian home with very good Christian values, who is really struggling right now, in his second year of college, due to "peer pressures". He has made choices that I would have never thought he would make, become lazy in his work habits, lazy in his personal responsibilites, and lost many of his values, due to hanging out with people who did not have good values or any sense of self discipline. (and these are church kids...I'm not talking about thugs!) The "social scene" has him out all hours of the night, sometimes never getting sleep, going days without eating right and getting rest. He makes up excuses for work. (he works for our family owned business)....and STAYS very confused and depressed. I think mainly his problem is the fact that he KNOWS the values his friends have are NOT good but he wants to be "liked" and "popular" and "have fun"...etc....and so he's torn. The education part has nothing to do with it. I also see him learning things in class, that he KNOWS is not biblical. They promote things like the "Emo-type lifestyle", "alternate lifestyle", tells him in science he came from a monkey or a cosmic soup, and he gets into conversations with his professors that put "him" in a bad light in their eyes, due to his personal beliefs. So this has been an area of frustration for him as well. Statistics show that 95% of Christians who enter college, will lose their Christian beliefs by the time they graduate college. How very sad.
As far as the value of a college education anymore....I dont think it's worth the value of the paper it is written on. I know that sounds bad,(and I certainly dont mean to offend those who have spent years to obtain a degree Or those working in the college profession) but we spend thousands of dollars on an education that teaches us "not much" in MOST professions. I mean, what good is a PhD in Science, if all that you have studied and worked for is based on lies and false information!? (I can say this, because my husband has a Masters in Biology & feels this very way!)He's researched and learned on his own, after college, that the ideals he was taught in college, are at minimal BUNK! Personally, I own a local business, and daily, we deal with college graduates that cant even fill out a job application. I also see things taught in college, that do not work in the real world. The schools and colleges anymore, teach kids to be "dependent" on society, not to be "independent". They dont want kids to "think" on their own. They come out of high school and college with no common sense or desire to think for themselves. I've had college students who couldn't fill a "tape gun" with a roll of tape, because "no one taught them how!" I'm like, "Oh so you thought I went to Tape Gun School to figure it out the first time I had to fill the tape gun?" LOL Plus, they dont teach them to think outside the box anymore. Instead of thinking of alternative sources for things they need (like food, water, shelter, electricity), they just stress "get into debt, use credit cards, and do what everyone else does. With that mindset, you are always dependent on someone else. We need to break that cycle I think and "out think" our professors and school curriculum! Oh, but that's another soapbox to crawl up on! haha
I think I would just consider your daughter's heart and what things are upsetting her. Maybe she is being pressured in some areas that have nothing to do with the education part. I would allow her to find herself something else to do (work) or maybe some home studies. Maybe she might like to take a couple of classes online. I'm betting, as a mom who's been there and done that...that its not the homework that is stressing her. No where in the Bible did the Lord tell us to get a college education. That is society that tells you that you are worthless without an education. I've actually learned much more in the past few years, on my own, seeking information on subjects I was interested in, and have a very successful, respectable business, that was not built on my college education. I think as long as your sweet daughter learns good morals and learns to take care of a husband and her home, what more could she want!??
I'd say pray about her situation and let the Lord direct you. That's my two cents.
Praying for you,
S.

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A.A.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D.. I dont have any advice per say about your daughter wanting to take off other than my personal experience. After highschool i wanted to take a semester off. Well, 6 years later I still havent finished. I've gone back a couple times but just couldnt get into it due to the demanding life i have (mother, wife, work full time, etc.) People told me that the longer I wait, the harder it will be to go back, but I didnt listen. I wish I would have.
On another note, congrats on graduating and becoming a counselor! I work very closely with our counselors here at MHMR so I can definitely appreciate what you do. I do have a question though. What school did you go to? How long did it take you? I think I have found my niche in counseling and would love to get my liscense. Problem is, I cant do the four year university thing. Just dont have time. Hopefully you can give me advice!!

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C.M.

answers from Abilene on

My cousin went thru the same thing, and she took a few semesters off. She eventually went back, but the enthusiasm wasn't there anymore. She settled on a ho-hum major that won't give her any kind of job stability... So what I'd suggest is tell your daughter to cut back on her hours. Stay in school, but instead of taking 4,5, or 6 classes, cut them back to 1 or 2... so she's still hanging in there, but she isn't overwhelmed. Good luck!!!!

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P.H.

answers from Dallas on

Both of my daughters graduated from high school early (age 17). One started college right away and burned out after 2 years. The other was burned out after high school and wanted to start college in spring instead of fall. We gave them permission to take a time off but I required that they work and pay for all of their expenses.

The oldest took a semester off, worked full time as a waitress and got a full understanding of the value of a degree. She was ready to go back after one semester off. She graduates in May. She needed that down time and I'm not sure she would have gotten through the rest of college if she hadn't gotten it.

The second daughter wanted to take a year off before going into college. We let this be her decision. She worked during summer after high school and was ready to go to college in the fall. She is doing great.

You have instilled the value of education in your kids just as we did. They will learn that value first hand when they try to make ends meet by making $6 to $12 per hour. It just doesn't go very far. Both of my girls know that if they are not in college then we will not support them. It makes for an easy decision once they get a taste of the real world.

My girls each needed time away from school and they benefitted from the down time.

Hope this helps
P.

T.H.

answers from Dallas on

I agree with the lightening the load route but she is just getting a tast of life and it is never just a vacation. She needs to learn to juggle and find her balance. Maybe in addition to lightening her load you can talk to her about what she does like about her current situation and what areas are stressing her out the most. She might need to join a social club at school or change her living arrangments to feel she has the right routine in place.

Try to draw her out and have her be proactive in the solution. She will be more likely to stick with it and feel better about the results.

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C.M.

answers from Lubbock on

I work for a college and we see this all the time in the spring. Encourage her to find something fun to do this summer and when she returnds to college in the fall to take a lighter load of classes. Suggest that she mix some fun classes in with the more intense classes.

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M.M.

answers from Dallas on

Definitely convince her to stay in school...even if she is only taking 1 or 2 classes for a semester or two! If she is completely out for a semester or longer it will be harder for her to return! i saw this with a few of my friends....they got too comfortable not having to deal with the "stresses" of college classes. She needs to stay in...no breaks! i wanted to quit college at times too, but my parents wouldn't allow it at all!! And i'm so happy i listened to them!
hope that helps! Good luck and congrats to you for recently finishing your degree!

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A.J.

answers from Dallas on

I worked in ministry with college students, specifically girls for 10 years and it sounds like what your daughter needs is vision. If she hasn't discovered her path in life yet, pursuing a degree can seem pointless. If she's not setting out with a career goal in mind, or even if she is but isn't passionate about it, school can be a curse and not a blessing. My advice would be to let her choose what she wants to do at this point. Taking a step back would help her be able to take a look at her life and see what she really wants and wants to do. And yes, there is a chance she may not want/need to go back, but that should be her decision. Not every career requires a college degree. HTH!

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T.L.

answers from Dallas on

D.-

No point in looking like you are trying to "control" her actions and create that whole storm.

Talk to the admissions department at the college, share with them the situation your in and ask if there is a student advocate who works at the college, who did this very thing and would share with her their struggles to get back to school after "taking a semester off."

Then share with your daughter that you will support her IF she talks to XYZ person first and the two of you sit down to discuss the meeting.

Your not the bad guy, did you not trick her, you are just opening her eyes to the real world through other people and hoping she will be more open to hearing it.

Good Luck!

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R.L.

answers from Dallas on

comming from personal exparience, it is always harder to go back once you quit. i would suggest her signing up for a class she will really enjoy to break the "work" feeling. pottery or acting or learning the gutar. something fun!

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E.

answers from Dallas on

My parents told me if I stayed in college until I graduated they would pay for living and school expenses, but if I dropped out, I was completely on my own. I was smart, I stayed in school. I did work part time to have extra spending money, but it was less than 20 hours a week.
Maybe she needs to change her major, that's what I had to do. I was hating Business, so I switched to Natural Sciences. After my 1st year in college, I told my mom I didn't like school. She asked me what class I did like and I told her geology. I had taken a geology class as an elective and I loved it so she said switch, so I switched majors. She didn't care what degree I got, she just wanted me to be happy. I'm so glad my parents were so supportive. It took me a little longer to graduate, but I did. Maybe your daughter isn't happy with the major she picked and needs to figure out what she wants to do. Encourage her to try other classes. I don't know anyone who dropped out and then went back to school in a few semesters.

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J.M.

answers from Dallas on

It does sound like burn out. If there are no financial reasons, grants, loans, scholarships etc that would be in jeopardy by her taking a few semesters off, I say let her. But ... don't let her free ride for a year. If she's going to take a break from school, she'll have to get a job, pay rent, utilities, food budget, even if she's still living with you. it would be unfair to both of you to allow her to take a 365 day vacation but educating her to what her life is now may help her through what may just be a morning of her carefree/responsibility limited youth.

With Gratitude,
J.

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T.P.

answers from Dallas on

You've got lots of great advice already from the other moms. I was a Resident Advisor for about 30 new freshman each year I was in college and many of the girls would come to school and experience the same thing - its scary and lonely. My biggest piece of advice is to encourage her to get involved. It doesn't have to be a sorority, there are lots of programs to be involved in. If she lives in the dorm have her ask her Resident Advisor (I don't know if thats what they are called anymore) for advice on who to contact to learn about the different student organizations on campus. We had a "student affairs" office but I'm sure it is different for every campus. Being involved in something during college can make the biggest difference between enjoying yourself and simply going to college. Just about every religion has a ministry group and will try to reach students by serving free pizza for lunch on certain days or something like that. It doesn't matter what organization she's involved in, just get involved. It also looks really good on your resume (along with a part time job). It will show her future employers she not only did well in school but also works well with others and can multi-task. Not to mention the amount of experience she'll be able to draw on for the rest of her life. Typically, your college friends are the ones you stay in contact with long-term so tell her to apply herself and get involved. It may be scary at first but it gets easier!! God Bless, I hope she finds something that really fits her!

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M.H.

answers from Dallas on

One of my son's took 1 year off, got a job in California and lived with some friends. He also worked some in Colorado during the winter. He then was ready to go to school in California the next fall. He still is offered a job in Colorado at the ski slopes during Christmas break and spring break when they are busiest. He will graduate this May at almost 25; not too late. But the main thing, he enjoyed his time exploring what he wanted to do and working hard. College is not for everyone and I think is over-rated. Everyone does not have to be on the same time plan!

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T.H.

answers from Dallas on

I am sorry that I really have no advice to offer other than when I took a break after getting my associates I never returned!
I am lookin for a counselor and was wondering if you have any ideas on finding someone reasonable as I have no insurance and limited funds. I live in McKinney
Thank you, T.

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L.G.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D.

I have an 18 yr old son in his second semester of college as well.... Around the middle of the second semester he started complaining it was too hard, boring, etc etc, he is also in some honors classes. He recently registered for his third semester classes.... When he starts complaining I just encourage him to keep up his good work, tell him how proud I am of him, try without being controlling to explain the outcome of dropping out of college and that it is really not an option and that it would be better to get through it now while he is young so that he can enjoy at a young age and good paying job that will allow him to enjoy his life a little easier in his 20's... I myself was a teen parent and got my GED but didnt get my college degree till my 30's, it was hard and he sees that and I think that helps keep him motivated as well. Just keep encouraging and try to distract them from thinking about it when they are home, dont let them give up, dont ever tell them they can quit, that is what they are looking for is moms permission lol, but dont give it, it may be hard or boring now, but it will pay off for them later and they will be so thankful that you were there to push them along and keep them going... So keep pushing, she will get through it and the summer break coming up will help and get them refreshed for the next year.

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C.H.

answers from Dallas on

Hello D.,
I have been in your daughter's shoes before. If you feel she is getting burn out of school, let her take less hours and work more. You are right, if you let her get out completly she will not go back. If she does, it will be when she is trying to support herself and the means and time will not make it easy. Can she take summer off? I took less hours a couple of semeter both due to burn out and no money. She has to keep in mind the degree is crucial to a successful life. My husband does not have any college and it is almost impossible for him to find a good job. Good Luck!!

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E.A.

answers from Dallas on

I am also a single mom of two teenagers 16 & 17, but I was a Foster Mom for 7 years, so my advice is let her have the summer off and then continue in the Fall. This was she gets her time to be free of school and you get a compermise along the way. We all get burnt out from school but if she is as wise as you seem to protray her then she will make the right decision of going back. Plus with all her friends working and going to school them selfs she may see that sitting at home isn't so wonderful all the time. Just my opinion...

Good Luck and be blessed.

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D.M.

answers from Dallas on

Buy her the booked Called "THE Secret" it will change your life as well as hers....

D.

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D.B.

answers from Dallas on

I haven't read many of the other things, but I know that college should be a fun time of life. Is she living at home? Is she active socially? Is she taking things that are fun and that SHE wants to take, or is she pounding away at generals? She's also 18 yrs old (from your profile) and in college. I didn't start till I was almost 19, so I was a bit older. I HATED taking the general classes at college, unless it was Astronomy for science, or poetry for the english - something I could control and enjoy, not just take because you had to take Biology 101 or whatever. Maybe she could drop down to part time and put more into doing something outside school for a little while. If nothing else, summer is coming up. That would be a GREAT time for a break and to do something fun that takes her mind of off the daily task of studying. It may turn out that she simply needs to lower her course load and take the minimum number of credits or take a few extra "fun" classes like poetry, dance, or something that relates nothing at all to the gruelling generals that many Freshman get stuck taking. Just a thought.

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

Tell her that she won't go back if she quits now...keep trying...that's the only way she'll succeed. Tell her also that she'll be completely on her own if she quits college. College is a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun if she wants it to be (& I'm not just referring to the parties). Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

BTW, this advice comes from an angry, unhappy teenager who grew up..and graduated college. :) Good luck!

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A.K.

answers from Dallas on

I have seen WAY to many people who take "a few semesters off" and NEVER go back. Tell her that summer is right around the corner and that she will have some time to herself. Plus, I am not sure what school she goes to, but I graduated from Texas A&M and once you leave, it is rally tough to get back in.

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C.J.

answers from Dallas on

From my experience this is pretty normal-I have a 25 year old daughter who always worked hard, took honors courses and was always geared for college. When she went away, for the first semester she was fine and happy, but then it all got a bit overwhelming. I told her, when she said she wanted to take time off, "You can do that, but you will have to work full time while you are taking time off, it is really hard to get back into it after even one semester, etc" In short, I supported her feelings but really let her know that I thought it was a bad idea. I also told her to look at me, still working on my own degree. She ended up sticking it out and is now preparing for law school. Just be supportive and she will probably stick it out.

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A.B.

answers from Dallas on

Hi, D.. I actually teach college English to freshman and sophomores. I work on the community college level, but i've also taught at the university level. I can tell you from over 8 years of experience, that MANY 18 and 19 year olds are nowhere near ready to commit to college! The drop rate for lower level college courses is very high. Many students go into college thinking it will be an extension of highschool but then are in for a rude awakening when they see that the work load is much greater. Many others feel pushed into attending, so their hearts aren't into it. Those students only give a lax effort and miss a lot of class. Others don't quite have the ability but are not willing to put in the EXTRA effort in order to get the skills they need to pass say college English or Math. They aren't willing to put in the tutoring hours necessary for improvement. Still others just don't know what they want out of life and sit in the desk dazed and confused.
I understand the concern of not wanting your child to miss out on college, but there is nothing wrong with letting her take a semester or two off. Let her get a job, take a vacation, or do whatever it is she wants to do. As she matures, she will be better equipped to make these decisions for herself. At this age, parents can't force their kids to study, and there is no sense paying money for school when it isn't what she wants and won't give her best effort. She has to want to be there so that she can succeed and get the most out of the experience.
I tell my students that college is a journey. It is important that they recognize the value of that journey so that they can get the most out of the experience. I tell them that when they look back at their lives, many of them will view those "4" years as the best time in their lives and the most important growing period.
Students should come to college eager and ready to learn-- they should be happy and honored to be there, not upset, overwhelemed, and angst-ridden. It is not an easy road, but it is a rewarding one. I also know lots of people who started college right out of highschool only to flunk out. I was in grad school with some of those people-- they eventually went back, were "A" students, and went on to grad school... and they were very appreciative of their opportunities and definitely made the most of them. So, listen to your daughter and just know... some 18 year olds are not mature enough for college. College is a mixture of older and younger students these days, and the instructors really appreciate those students that come prepared-- willing and eager and happy to be in those seats!
good luck--

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A.B.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D.,

I have a 20 year old daughter in her sophomore year at Texas A&M, and an 18 year old son in his senior year at Keller High School - so I can appreciate your situation.

I am making an assumption that she is AWAY at school.

Your oldest daughter is probably going through a very tough transition of being a child in the family, to being the head of household in her own family. At home, with you, there was always someone encouraging her and keeping her motivated and reminding her how important everything is. On her own, at school, she is left to do that herself and it is probably pretty difficult. Taking responsibility and REALLY making it work are hard for kids that are fresh out of the nest, and it will just take her some time to get used to it - but don't let her give up on herself. Tell her how tough she is and how this is just ANOTHER step in life that HAS to happen, and that one day she'll look back on it and laugh at the stress it gave her. This is one of the most important steps of her becoming who she is going to be when she grows up... does she want to be someone who caves in or someon who grows stronger, from the hard times?

My daughter graduated Summa Cum Laude, w/Honors, Top 10% of her class, Straight A's and she got a 1.5 GPA in her 1st semester of school! They kicked her OUT OF THE PROGRAM she was in! I had that talk with her, and more of course, but she straightened herself out, all by herself. She talked with all of her professors and was able to bring her GPA back up to a 2.75, and talked the Dean into letting her back into the program. She has buckled down on her studies and laid off on some of the partying, changed some of her friends and is now sailing through with a 3.5 GPA. She did it all herself. She adjusted her schedule to something she can handle, without getting burned out, and all the changes were made by HER, not me or anyone else. I can see the pride in her, as she takes responsibility of her own life. She's becoming the woman that she is going to be.

I hope that helps. :-)

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A.S.

answers from Dallas on

If taking semesters off is done with a specific plan in mind it shouldn't hurt. I would ask your daughter what she plans to achieve during her semester(s) off. When teenagers do something without setting a goal or an objective it can lead to them taking off in a direction you don't want them going. Sometimes you can achieve the same goal buy cutting back on the amount of hours being taken and them combining it with a full time or part time job.

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B.P.

answers from Dallas on

Dear D.,
As I recall, that was a big part of the college adjustment. Dealing with depression and being overwhelmed. How lucky she is that Mom has some extra tools to be helpful.
I would love for you to look into the program that I volunteer for called Pathways Core Training www.gopathways.org . It is wonderful for building boundaries, truly hearing people, and empowering yourself and others to create lives with passion purpose and success. I have a dear friend that is a therapist and refers people regularly to help them go further faster.
Please let me know if you are interested in more information. This could also help you daughter get some clarity on what she wants for herself going forward and empower her to make the right decision for herself rather than just feeling overwhemed and resigned. Just think of what a difference that attitude adjustment could make for her in her college career!
Please email me if you would like to talk about it at [email protected]____.com or you can call my LPC friend, Patti Villalobos, at ###-###-####.
In the meantime I will be praying for your family. The teen years are challenging for everyone.
I hope to hear from you.

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S.V.

answers from Dallas on

If your daughter is taking "full time" hours, have her cut back to "half time" or "3/4 time" hours. This will take some of the pressure off allowing her be breathe. She will be more apt to stick with it. It takes a little longer to get through school, but at least she will finish. She may also recover from her burn out and get back to full time sooner. I graduated May 2007 and had burn out a couple of times myself. This helped me. Good luck!

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P.S.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D., I'm not sure that this is an option but maybe your daughter can take a couple of courses that are not honors courses or take less courses and join some activity groups on campus. Meeting new people and getting involved with a cause important to me made a world of difference in my approach to school. I met knew people, experienced new things and enjoyed challenging myself. Education is very important but so is enjoying it along the way. The undergraduate experience at this age only happens once.

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A.S.

answers from Lubbock on

I can tell you from experience that pushing her will make it worse.I was pushed to stay in school and it back fired.Just support her in everything but give her advice too.Many times it is very hard when you graduate from high school.You are out on your own paying bills responsible for everything you do for the first time.That in itself is so stressful.She is figuring out who she is and she needs all the support she can get.My parents told me if I took off I would never go back.I tried to stay in but I ended up droping all my classes in the middle of one of my semesters.I really dont know what to tell you except dont let her get the sense that you are dissappointed in her that is the worst.All of my friends were out parting and doing terrible things and all my parents could focus on was that I wasnt in school and how it broke their heart but they dindt realize how good I was doing just to stay out of the party crowd.College is tuff at first just be patient your daughter has to want this for herself before she will want to do it.Pushing her wont do anything but make her feel like your not proud of her for who she is.I know you want the world for your daughter but she has to want it to.I got married and have a baby boy.My parents gave up on me as soon as I got married they were like I just wish you would have gone to school.I kept telling them I might still go back but they just thought I was done for.Finally they realized I was doing pretty good I married a wonderful man made a great mom bought my own house and stayed out of all the parting.And belive it or not I am in school right now.I am 23 and that is not to old to go back to school.Just let you daughter find herself.You spent you whole life teaching her right from wrong now you just have to trust her I sure she will find her way.Sorry this is so long I just wanted to share my own experience just in case you can relate.Good luck i know it is tuff

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M.E.

answers from Dallas on

This is the time where you ask yourself, how much do I trust my daughter?
I was 18 years old and went through 2 semesters as well the first year. Then I said "I need a break" and now I am 23 years old and the break is still going...
Yes, I have a well paying job right now without a college education , but if I would have not been so immature and really thought about it, I would have a Bachelors Degree and a great education .
You, as her mother should not let her give up. College is hard in many ways but she will reap the benefits if she continues her education.
If you really and truly feel that she will take a break and then continue school , then by all means give it a try.
But I, personally, would not.
Good luck to you and your daughter .

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J.A.

answers from Dallas on

I know it's hard that she is thinking of leaving school for a short time, but with the cost of college you can't afford to push her in it and hope she does well. Maybe you might consider telling her that she can come home but that she take 1 or 2 courses at the community college in your area, Also, let her get a taste of the real working work - one that does not include a college degree. You both need to sit down and discuss this; is she burned out, does she not like the school. It can be a variety of things.
One of my sons went to college after making wonderful grades in school (honor courses), but college was different. He couldn't just float by on the work that he did in high school. Talk with her and I'll bet you both find the answer.
J.

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B.R.

answers from Lubbock on

Hi D.
It does sound like your daughter is burned out. I've heard so many say that when their kids went straight from HS to College it's too much and they need a break.
I was homeschooled and graduated at 16. Of course I was a little too young to go to college at that time, but I sure didn't know what I wanted to be yet either.
I worked several different jobs over those years to see what I liked and didn't like and finally decided at 22 that I was going to go to college and get a degree in Interior Design. I graduated in 4 years and love my career choice. I'm 31 now and have taken a break to raise my two kids, but I feel like that worked for me.
I hope this helps.

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N.C.

answers from Dallas on

you're probably right about her not going back to college after taking some time off, i know that from experience. lighten the work load for her. keep her in a few less classes and let her breathe. maybe she's not having any fun either.

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J.M.

answers from Lubbock on

As the wife of a college prof. we see students drag a lot this time of year. They are beginning to be physically exhausted and many times are plugging along until summer. There is also a term "sophomoritis". Second year students begin to question if they have the right major and 2 more years looks SO far away. Perhaps your daughter is a little premature in that feeling. Does she know what she wants to be majoring in? Is this school a good match for her?

That said, do you have any idea how she is doing in her classes? Even students who were stars in high school some times just don't handle the university well. They may need to take some time to see if they want to continue. They may even drop out for a while or forever.

For some of those students they realize that the jobs they would like to do require a college education. They then have an interest and motivation to return.

Personally, our brightest child rejected college (attended 3 semesters in which the grades fell more and more) and went to the military (and yes he ended up being in 2 war zones--Panama & Desert Storm). By the time he finished his tour of duty he had decided what his academic interests were and he not only returned to college but now has an advanced degree. We think he primarily needed to mature some even though his high school career had been very good.

I would be the last parent to suggest military, especially in these times, but perhaps she needs to get a job for a while and truly support herself (apt. etc). We both know she will not be high on the pay scale and perhaps she will see that this will be her permanent spot in life without finishing college.

I'll be thinking of you and wishing your daughter the best. There's a high possibility that she is just physically and mentally tired by this time of year. She may need to rethink whatever she declared as her major. Over 90% of freshmen will change their major at least once before they graduate.

Have faith that she will figure out what she needs to be happy. Kids today have a lot more common sense than we give them credit for.

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M.M.

answers from Dallas on

Before she takes time off I would suggest she takes a semester to just take classes she's interested in and not worry about her academic plan. She may just be taking too many "required" courses and may have no interest in any of them. If she takes time to find something she is passionate about it will be a lot easier to stomach all of the other courses she will have to take. I know that it made a big difference for me to be able to have the classes I loved to look forward to each week.

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J.H.

answers from Dallas on

Be honest with her.. You are a living example tell her how hard it was to go back to school after your children were grown. Use the skills you have learned. And think about what you would tell other kids in her same boat. Also give her something to think about like a trip in 2 months where she wont have to think about school for a couple of days.
I didnt stick with school. I wish I had. I am now a mother of two and have no formal education. If something were to happen to my hubby I would be lost. I know have to think about what I am going to do when my boys are in school... Go back so I can show them how important it is... I bet you have a similar story.
Good luck..

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E.M.

answers from Dallas on

My oldest graduated from HS at 17 and went to college out of state. He was often discouraged and homesick.I just let him know that the goal- the ability to have choices in life- was attainable but not easy and education is the key. Keep in mind also that if your daughter is attending one of the larger universities rather than a smaller college the change alone can be amazing and the culture shock very difficult to adjust to. Let her know you get that. Keep her encouraged and don't let her quit. In 5 years it won't matter what her degree is in but it will matter that she has one.... my son is now in his 30's and so very grateful I stood firm. His wife is also college educated and a lovey young woman, great wife, and mom. They have a good life WITH CHOICES. I told my children over and over- school is not the time of your life, rather it is the tool that enables you to have the time of your
life.My daughter is finishing now. A degree or certification has proven over time to be worthwhile. Just let her rest over the summer, or send her on a trip to relax, but let her know you expect her to complete her education. Being a parent sometimes means letting your child be uncomfortable. Better than working two jobs like I had to do. Uncomfortable now or uncomfortable later. A dead end job is REAllY uncomfortable.

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G.W.

answers from Dallas on

D., I have i bio adult daughter and two adult step daughters and 5 teenage foster children (girls) ranging from ages 13-17. I have learned that there comes a time in every ones life that we have to stop and ex-hale. The fact that she has graduated and enrolled into college is fantastic. Sometimes children in this day and time are overwhelmed with responsibilities that they are not ready for and ready to continue with at this time. If she is desiring to take a break, discuss with her what, why, and what she will do while on break. I am certain that she will say she wants to work. She is strying to find her self in this scary world and 18 legally says that she can. Don't push , be supportive and gently guide and I am sure she will make the best decision for her at this time. At least she said she only wanted to take a break not drop out. That is a blessing

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S.W.

answers from Amarillo on

Tell her to hang in there. If she feels she wants to take off a semester try going to school abroad for that time and learning the country. If she does stop she will go back 10, 15 or 20 years later and it will be harder. I wish I had got my degree when I first got married but didn't want to have to keep changing schools to finish it and have 600 credits and no degree. I have since gone back to school off and on over the last 20 years and still have not gotten the degree. I now work at a university and a perk is 2 classes free a semester so I am now trying to figure out what to major in. Have your daughter take the basics and then a few classes in different areas to see what she likes then have her declare her major. It may take her a little longer to get her degree but she will get it. Also remember what she thinks is the going thing now may not be when she graduates so she should put in some flexibility in her major. Just make sure that whatever she does make it so that she can earn from what she learns. My favorite comment is that I will be at least 66 and collect social security by the time I get my degree. Good luck to her.

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T.O.

answers from Dallas on

Can she just keep a few classes and work part-time or full-time?

I worked full-time and went to school part-time. I was always irritated by those that complained about not having any time to do stuff other than school (when they were living at home,not doing laundry, shopping, paying bills etc). I think paying your own way, and working, really makes you appreciate going to school.

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A.C.

answers from Dallas on

I took a semester off after my third semester in college. Looking back, I wish I had taken more time off and gotten some counseling to help me "grow up" more. Perhaps it would have saved me from getting a degree in a field I was no longer interested in by the time I graduated.

Part of her feelings of burnout might be due to a sense of lack of purpose. If she takes time out, she might be able to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Perhaps encourage her to work and save money for schooling costs. I would also recommend that she take a Financial Peace University class/seminar from Dave Ramsey's program (look on internet) to help prepare her for life.

I'm also reading a new book named Spark, by Dr. John Ratey that talks about how exercise affects the brain. Moving more might help her with the stress of school! Another book called The Brain Trust Program by Dr. Larry McCleary gives ideas about what to eat to help your brain function at its best. Check them out!

Something you said in your note about yourself intrigued me: you recently went back to college and got a degree and you are now working in that new field! With an example like that set by her mother, I wouldn't worry so much about her dropping out now! Older students usually do better in school, making better grades and getting more out of the classes! Relax!

Hope this helps.

A.

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J.B.

answers from Tyler on

Sometimes pounding away at a pointless, go-nowhere job is the best way to find one's way. Let her make the decision, but make sure she understands she'll have to pay her own way, buy her own clothes, gas, insurance, etc. Sometimes that makes a person grow up and value the education. Sometimes it doesn't. You just have to let the birdy fly anyway.

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K.S.

answers from Dallas on

At this age, all you can do is set an example, and possibly offer emotional support. Maybe help her design plan of action for employment with that vision of more college in a sememster or two.

If she is already on her own, let her be, but make plans to hang out with her every week. This way you can 'keep your foot in the door' of her life setting a good example for her.

If she is still mostly being financially supported by you and chooses to do this, I would let her know that she will need to start mostly supporting herself financially. Find out what percentages of income is recommended for rent or mortgage payments, and let her know that that percentage of her full-time income will have to go towards her living in your home.

Either way, if she chooses to take off for a sememster or two I would let her know that when she goes back she will have more financial responsibility for her classes, books, along with some rent and other finacial obligations.

Sometimes a taste of loving reality can help at this age.

Take Care,
K.

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T.S.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D.,

Tell your daughter to NOT take off a few semesters. A few semesters may turn into 5 years or so and she may end up having to work somewhere she doesn't want to and be unhappy with it like me. Education is the most important thing and had I known that I would be working somewhere in the customer service field I would have NEVER stopped going to college after completing 2.5 years. I am just now getting a chance to go back to school to finish the last 2 years so I can get my degree. It is much easier having a college education. Tell her to stay in school. She will be glad she did years from now. Hope this helps...

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T.H.

answers from Dallas on

Hi D.!

I went back to college in my late 30's and graduated. My advice to you is to sit down with your daughter and find out exactly what is making her so unhappy. Taking a few semesters off will probably do more good than harm. If she is burned out, and stays in school she won't get the full benefits of her education because she will be so stressed out. In addition, her gpa will drop, so when she does go back, she will have work extra hard to recover the ground she lost.

She's young, give her some breathing room on the education so she can get her head together, and then she will go for it. Trust her and support her. That's what she needs right now. Make sure she knows that she is unconditionally loved and accepted for WHO she is, NOT what she has done. I think you'll find out this will work better. If you pressure her to stay in school, she will resent you, and not tell you if/when something really goes wrong in her life. If she really has some serious issues going on, you could push her into thoughts of suicide or actually taking her life.

Another thing to consider, if you alienate her now, she will be extremely vulnerable to cults. These religious cults prey on kids in college. These kids are away from home, lonely, and stressed out. I've seen it happen many times. People in cults are trained to bring in new members and what to look for. I know that from personal experience.

I hope this helps you.

Sincerely,
T.

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L.A.

answers from Dallas on

My 2 cents. . .

I would remind her that she is at the end of a major transition year for her - she probably only has a few weeks to go. She will get through it - and assuming she takes a break from school in the summer she will be more energized in the fall.

I would encourage her not to make any decisions right now. Go ahead and register for Fall - and she can see how she feels later in the summer. If she still thinks she needs some time off - then she can come up with a plan. (I realize this may cause a housing problem - but I do think you can pay the fall tuition near the end of the summer)

I am reminded of my step daughter who is active in the theater program at her high school - she is always gung ho at the beginning - but with out fail about a week before the play - when the pressure is on - the rehearsals are getting old - and she is just tired - she is ready to quit and says she won't do another play. Then it is opening night - they have a great time - and before it is over - she is ready for next year. Maybe your daughter is just ready for the semester to be over.

The other advice I would give - thoough I don't know where she is going to school - is to make sure she has found some way to connect to a smaller community with the college. It is easy to feel lost / invisible at college so either through a sorority, club or extra curricular activity connecting with a smaller group of friends makes is much more manageable.

Good luck.

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C.R.

answers from Shreveport on

I was just like her when I was her age!! Don't let her stop going to school. She might consider lightening her load and taking 6-9 hours and working for a semester. Part of it I am sure is the fact that she is having to take so many of the basics right now. What is her goal? What kind of career does she want? Let her take some of those classes...she will be more likely to enjoy them. Encourage her to take a class that she is REALLY interested whether it is on her degree plan or not. If she has always wanted to learn sign language, or photography, or dance--whatever. Let that be her "break." There were so many things that I didn't do because they didn't come easy to me. It is very difficult to adjust to the fact that college does not come as easily as high school, and frankly the school system doesn't truly prepare our kids for college anymore. She needs the knowledge that she can make it through something that is not easy for her. And she doesn't have to graduate Summa Cum Laude! When my mom told me that I had to stay in school (I would have lost what little scholarship I had)... I said, "Okay, but I will not have a 4.0." I was willing to do it, but I wanted to have a life too. Maybe she needs to know that she doesn't have to be perfect...that it's okay to get a B or C. These are just some ways that she can take a break without dropping out of school. Because like it or not, when one "takes a break" by not taking classes, they are far less likely to finish. I know that I am kind of rambling, but I hope that makes sense.

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L.S.

answers from Dallas on

I remember being burned out on school, but I never took time off because I was afraid I'd never go back. My family always encouraged me to stick it through, but they never pushed me. I knew it was an expectation to finish school, and I didn't want to disappoint anyone. I'm glad I stuck with it and got it over with before I got married and had kids. Let her take the summer off just as she would have done when in high school the year before. But, she should get a full time job and help pay some bills if she still lives with you. She needs to have some responsibility, plus it will teach her why it's important to have an education and get a good paying job. Once the summer is over, she can start the fall semester again. Good Luck!

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B.G.

answers from Dallas on

Good morning, D..

I agree with you about the importance of education. I guess I'd try having a conversation (which you may already have done) to see if your daughter is really feeling overwhelmed or if something else is troubling her. If she is just burned out, perhaps it would be possible for her to lighten her course load or to go to school part time as an alternative to not going at all. Maybe a nice mix of school and part-time work might be enough to convince her that getting her degree is worth it in the long run. Or she could leave school with the priviso that she would have to find a full time job....that would be a great reality check...particularly if she has to stay in school until she finds a job. I would suggest that letting her quit school and sit idly at home would not be a good thing for either of you.

Best of luck. It's a hard time, but you will get through it.

B.

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L.S.

answers from Dallas on

So she is burned out with school but you want her to stay in because if she doesn't stick with it she may not go back? I say give her one semester off and make her work full time at a really low paying job. Then remind her that she will be there for a very long time without a college education. Forcing her to stay in school will only make the burnout more, feel more depressed, and not want to be there. So if she doesn't want to be there how well can you expect someone to do if they are miserable. I think that you are very lucky she is talking to you about the problem. I think that you need to tell her that her well-being is more important than school, but that you want her to do well in life. And coping with situations like this is certainly about life. Maybe this is a learning opportunity for you both. If you make her stay in school despite her burnout and feelings I think you will do more harm than good to your relationship in the long run. After all if her mom doesn't help her or understand her who will. Alcohol? Drugs? Dropping out? Any of those to escape her unhappiness and burnout. Harping on the girls about the improtance of a good education and taking honors classes is good, but when did they get a break from school?After all they just left 12 years of school. I think that I would ask myself: is the education more important than her self-esteem and emotional health?

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E.H.

answers from Tyler on

Wow, you must be very proud of your daughter's accomplishments at 18! I have too, an 18 yr. old
that will graduate this coming December. I would
advise you to let your daughter make the desicions
about her education. Do not resist if she wants
to take a semester off to work, help her by letting
her know how hard it would be to live without a degree...establish a budget, room and board vs.
student life to have the best future for her and
future family.

Compliment your advise with much prayer!

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L.G.

answers from Dallas on

D., I have a 21 yr old daughter in college. She usually takes the summers off just like she did before graduating high school. This gives her a break from school and time to build up her bank account. She works 20-30 hours a week during school and more during the summer. Taking the fall semester off is not an option though. We're blessed that she works with some older women that she can talk to when she's feeling discouraged or burned out and they help guide her in the right direction. I've found that sometimes when she hears things from someone other than mom it helps. Hope this helps you and your daughter! L.

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L.B.

answers from Dallas on

I wanted to drop out after 5 semesters in school, but my dad "just said no" It was the best thing for me, because I remained in school and went back to work. I think now that I just needed the encouragement to do the work and complete my education. You know your daughter. Just sit down and talk with her about goals and what's behind her wanting to stop for a while. Is it that she feels that she is a burden on you or doesn't have enough money for what she wants to do? Is she working? Does she have a mission statement about what she wants in life? She's 18. She might be looking for less "mom talk" and more "mentor talk."

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M.M.

answers from Amarillo on

It would be better for your daughter if she did not actually take off a semester, but just lightened her load a lot for a little bit. What if she just went part time for a semester or two, and definitely take the summers off. She needs that break to recoup and gain back her momentum. It sounds to me like you are being very supportive and understanding, and that is something she really needs. These are just suggestions, and I hope they help. Good luck to you in your new field of work, and good luck to your daughter in her future endevores.

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M.C.

answers from Dallas on

Debra,

Has your daughter said what exactly is making her so unhappy? Is it her college courses, the professors or other students? Does she have time for personal interests (hobbies, friends, etc.)?

I have a daughter who will be 19 in June. She's pretty miserable right now too, but a lot of that has to do with her not really meeting a lot of friends and feeling like all her personal time is being used up with her studies. She wasn't a highly motivated child so she is more stressed with the college scene. She's an honors student so she is doing well, but she is always stressed about her studies. Things like that aren't too bad if you have an outlet that you do enjoy (like hanging with friends, enjoying your personal interests, etc.). When life is all work and no enjoyment, it gets really depressing.

We have girls about the same age. My other daughter just turned 17. She is dual enrolled at CCCC and enjoys the college scene more than her sister. Of course, she has always been a highly motivated and self-disciplined child.

M.

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K.R.

answers from Amarillo on

Maybe she needs a "blow-off" semester? I was extremely busy with AP courses and extra cirricular activities all through high school and going into college (seems like a distant lifetime ago, now)and after a couple of semesters in college I was fried! I just cut back to 12 hours of easier classes and got a "fun" job for a semester - I guess like a semester and a summer, really. It was a nice little break, in a way, but I was still able to keep earning credits and have a job.

I'm leaning in your direction that it would be better not to stop school altogether. I know too many people who have done that for one reason or another and it was SO hard for them to get back on track - some never did.

Best of luck. She sounds like a good girl!
K.

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S.D.

answers from Dallas on

Don't let her come HOME!!! I was in the same situation. Top 10 Graduate 4.0 GPA highest honors and scholarships. I wanted to get as far away as I could possibly get for college. So I went away and realized that I knew noone, That I didn't know how to study, and that I had overloaded myself. I made the same phone call home, begging to come home, my parents missing me agreed and 1 year later I was married with a new baby and 8 years later I still have never returned. My BIGGEST REGRET!
Ask her why she wants to come home? If it's too difficult maybe lighten the course load for a while. If she is like I was and never had to really try and doesn't know how to study or take notes find a class that helps with that or a study group. Just Don't let her quit, most never return.

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J.B.

answers from Dallas on

HI D.: I would be happy to talk to you about options for your daughter. If this is her first year away at school there could be adjustment issues, possibly the school she picked is not a good match to your daughter and her learning style, personality, etc.
I have taught at the University Level and am the Founder of Creative Tutors and Creative Learning 4 Kids, Inc. (a 501 C 3 not for profit public charity) I would be happy to talk this out with you. Feel free to call me ###-###-####. Jan

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K.T.

answers from Dallas on

You have already received a lot of responses - I read some but not all -- so sorry if this is repetitive. My first year of college I begged my mom at christmas break to come home. I had a boyfriend back home, wasn't making friends easily, had the roommate from hell, and was just plain miserable. She told me to finish out the year and we'd talk about it. Luckily, I joined a sorority, made friends, changed roommates and never brought up leaving again. So I wonder what is truely making her feel this way. I would have a heart to heart with her and see if you can really get to the bottom of her feelings. Then come up with some suggestions to try to resolve them. Mabye she needs to join a club, team sport or something to make some better friends. Or if she is truely burned out maybe lighten her load a little or investigate a semester abroad. You'll find that a semester abroad is not that much more expensive and a very rewarding experience.

On a side note, I would encourage her to stay in school. Having seen other people in my family try to go back to school later when they already have children has made me thnakful that I finished my education first. It was easier to focus on education when I didn't have the added responsibilty of a family. And now that I have a child, my advanced education has allowed me to craft the kind of lifestyle I want to have.

Good luck!

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J.H.

answers from Amarillo on

Sometimes they do just get burned out. There is enough stress in life without overdoing. If they are burned out, they don't learn as much, and thats sort of defeating the purpose. Encouraging is one thing, pushing another. Maybe taking a semester off, and her working at some little job will let her see for herself that college looks pretty good.

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