Son and College Plans Are Scaring Me!

Updated on August 21, 2008
L.J. asks from Birmingham, AL
50 answers

Our son is a 17 yr. old rising high school senior and is so very talented and smart (all honors and AP classes). Tonight he dropped a bomb shell on me just at the time I am about to go online and send in his applications for college. He asked me what I thought about him taking a year off after high school to pursue a hobby he dearly loves. He works 2-3 days per week now and maintains a 3.74 average and is in the top 20 of his class each year so he has proven to juggle his time well. He said he will work and pay all his personal expenses for that year but just would love a break. I am so scared and he said he was still open to us talking about it. He promised me that he would definitely get his degree in college and graduate but might love to take a break. What do we do?? My husband, his dad says we can't make him go and I know that's true but I am shedding tears because I'm so scared about what to say to him. If you have any helpful words, please share them with me.

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So What Happened?

I am overwhelmed by the honest replies from fellow mothers. This site is like having an invisible network of best friends that you can go to and ask your questions and get honest answers. HOW WONDERFUL! Thank you to EVERYONE who has responded to my request. Our son is a really great kid and has made wise decisions in his young life. We do have a very open relationship and we talk to each other a ton. I will continue to listen with an open mind and heart to his desires and I'll be there to share my thoughts and advice. I will ultimately try my best to encourage him in the right ways but he is becoming a young man that will have to make the decisions that suit his life the best. Thank you again to everyone for the wonderful advice and support.

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L.H.

answers from Jonesboro on

I think taking a year off is good, sometimes. I have two soon to be high school seniors. It isn't a big deal anymore. And he may do better as a result of taking time off from school. I had a year off - not because I wanted to, but because my college of choice had a waiting list... And so I worked and earned money that year.

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C.H.

answers from Little Rock on

I took and break and guess what...I never went. I am not complaining because I have a great job that pays well but I hate that I don't have a degree. I can't quit my job now and go make what I make some where else. I wished my parents would have stayed on me. I would maybe suggest taking the summer and fall off then start up with maybe one or two classes in the spring. Or even taking just one class in the fall instead of taking a break. Nothing hard just easy class. Just keep him focused on his dreams and what makes him happy. Best of Luck!!
C.

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T.H.

answers from Tulsa on

He just spent 12 years in school. I don't blame him for wanting a break. I would rather my son take a needed break than to go to college and spend the first year partying, etc.

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B.V.

answers from Enid on

How about just take 1 or even 2 classes. Keep the load very, very light and he can still have time to work and play?
B.

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M.C.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Of course it all depends on the person and the circumstances. But let me tell you a few life lessons I've learned in my many years. I went to college very late in life. By that time I knew what degree would be best for me and where I needed the help (that extra listing on my resume, of all things!). My entire life was in the accounting field but I got my degree in Business Mgmt. since that seemed a "universal" degree. Throughout the years all my experience didn't count much in promotion and advancement since I didn't have "a degree" and this was my awakening. Most all my jobs included contact with the public, assuming this would help with customer service type jobs. On the contrary, I got beat out on my customer service applications by other "degreed" applicants: elementary education, interior design, any degree no matter what the title or job affiliation. In talking to these people every one of them went to college immediately after high school and then went into the job they degreed in. However, every one of them did not like the chosen field and went into other non-degree-related jobs. So, I really think that the one year break to "try out" the job is a fantastic idea because then they get a real life idea of what they think they want to do. One good thing is that college will always be available and lots of financial aid is available, too, if money is a concern. This is just a thought/comment from just my experience. I graduated college with a Bachelors degree at (wait, let me get my calculator) age 47, and I'm so glad I did.

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S.L.

answers from Lake Charles on

Sometimes young people do need a break. In Louisiana, if you choose, the kids start school at 4, pre-k, and continue through 12th grade. That is 14 years of school. They are tired of any form of school by the 12th grade. If he is where you say he is, he will continue his education after he takes a break. Sound like to me, he is serious about his education, and knows he needs his degrees from college to get where he knows, someday, that he wants to be. Just let him know you support him in the decision he makes,but also stress the importance of finishing his education, after the break. Just remember, he can at any time during the break, decide he wants to go on with his education.

Good Luck
Sound like you have a good kid. Support him.

S. Miller

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J.S.

answers from Enid on

Your son sounds like he is thinking about his future. My 3 children, also, were very talented, and 2 of them got 100% of their college paid for plus living stipends to help w/gas, etc., because of their good grades and ACT scores. I don't know if you plan on scholarships to help pay for his college, but I'm wondering if he will find the same scholorships, especially ones the colleges give based on grades, if he takes a year off. That might make him re-think his wish to take a break. My son also had a hobby very important to him - he loved building remote control cars and airplanes. So he majored in aerospace engineering and enjoyed most of the classes, plus he got a job at college working in the machine shop where he was able to build things on his own. He told me once "I can't believe they pay me to work here!" Maybe your son would have opportunities like that in college, depending on what his hobby is, of course. My son didn't pursue a masters because he was very tired of school also, but after 4 years of college, he began his first engineering job this summer and is very happy that he is out and working in a career he enjoys.

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T.H.

answers from Baton Rouge on

I would definitely encourage him to go to college now even if he takes a light load. It is so hard to go to college after sitting out for a year. Ultimately it is his decision. I would research the statitcs of starting college after high school and waiting. I waited and now 16 years later am trying to get my degree with a full time job, husband, and 3 children. It is so much harder than if I had gone straight from high school. On the flip side if he takes time off to explore his hobby he may find a passion for what he loves and make a career out of it if that hobby could become a career.

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P.P.

answers from Jonesboro on

If he's as smart as he seems to be, what are you afraid of? Let him take a break before he burnsout. Have you talked to him about your fears? Usually our fears are far greater than the reality. Pray about it, and leave the rest to God.

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S.R.

answers from Montgomery on

We have our third child finishing college this year. All three have done well but my middle child floundered around to 4 different schools before she settled in. They were all top students in their high schools and good kids. I do think that for some children it would be good for them to maybe try working for a little bit. They are so young and have plenty of time and this will help them be more focused on what they want to do instead of what we want them to do. Because if they are not passionate about what they want to do they will not do well, anyway. You know, we only have them for a few short years. They are supposed to spread their wings and fly. Sounds like your son has a good head on his shoulders.
It is hard to let go and trust what we have taught them but I have found that they have listened well.
Sincerely,
Mom who has been there

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B.M.

answers from Fort Smith on

Your husband is right, if you make him enroll, he could very well skip classes & drop out. However, since it sounds like the lines of communications are still open, talk to him about going to a community college and getting an associates degree, that's the first two years and covers most of his basic courses - regardless of what he wants to major in. I wish I had done that back in the day when. Once the associates' degree is obtained, he could take a break but wouldn't loose his hours when he went back to school.

Then, if he still wants to take a break, let him. That way he would have a chance to taste college life, which is nothing like high school. Maybe he would get involved and want to finish.

College is so different, he could attend classes 3 days a week, and have the other 4 for his hobby. Actually, if they offer the classes when he needs them, he would only have to attend half days. When I went to college to get my teaching degree, I went to school until noon everyday, then worked a 38 hour job each week, saw my son finish high school, and had time to study, keep house, see the rest of my family, too. But I did all that about 24 years after high school graduation!

B. M.

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M.M.

answers from Huntsville on

You know your son better than anyone.

Perhaps he knows he needs a break from books, per se. I don't think we let our children explore "themselves" -- rush, rush, rush through school, activities, school, more activities. Some young adults go off to college and don't do well -- too much immaturity (no parent to rush them off to work, soccer, football, dance, tennis, whatever and then to study, study, study).

I'd say, let him give his plans a try. I think this is called "spreading his wings" and he still has the "parent cloak" over his shoulders a little bit. He may find it's not so easy to get ahead without the college degree, but my goodness, he's young! He's not planning on not going, just postponing it. Have a plan that you've talked over with him and let him know your expectations.... after he's finished his "year off."

I remember my own son telling me, "You can make me go, but you can't make me try" (That was about repeating a grade early on....) And therein is the crux of the matter.

He has graduated from college now, decided to go back to get his teaching degree and as his father says, "Tony is very motivated." (This is the child I thought wouldn't get through high school!)

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G.F.

answers from Tulsa on

Sit and talk with your son about what he is wanting to do. Ask him why he wants to take the time off and talk to him about your fears. Make suggestions such as maybe only taking 1 or 2 classes locally rather than a full course load this first year or maybe take off only the first semester but go ahead and register for the spring semester and go then. He sound like a very smart and sensible kid and that he will make the right decision. Best of luck
G. F.

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J.L.

answers from Enid on

He sounds responsible. He is saying he will pay his own way. I'd let him do it. It is possible that going to college will be even more inviting after working for a year and paying for his expenses. And when he agrees to pay for his expenses you should be charging him rent (and not a family rate; the stranger rate). Even have him pay for his own food and definitely gas. Don't forget car insurance. Whatever you do, don't treat this as a punishment for not going to college. He will be an adult living in your home that will be responsible for his share of the expenses - period.

Perhaps he just needs to hear someone say it is okay to take a break too.

A compromise would be he take some evening classes or an online class.

Good Luck

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C.C.

answers from Baton Rouge on

After reading your post, I have a few questions. 1) Does your son have a scholarship to college? If so, he needs to consider whether that scholarship will be available to him if he decides to sit out a year after high school. While I don't necessarily think it's a bad idea to wait a year or so to go to college (see below), I DO think it's a bad idea to forfeit free scholarship money if it's available. Just speaking from experience, I was also an honors student and received a full scholarship. I'm fairly certain that I would have lost the scholarship had I sat out a year so...your son needs to think about that. 2) What is the "hobby" he wants to pursue? (I'm guessing it's music or acting or something "risky" like that) If he's like me, he doesn't like to take risks, which is probably why he does so well in school. However, looking back (I'm now 29), I wish I would have "followed my dream" before I went to college, so at least I would have had no regrets about it later. I also think that a year off will give him time to reflect on what he really wants to do in life. My biggest complaint is that I did not know what I wanted in the way of a career b/c I had to make that decision at 21, while in college (I went to college right out of HS).

I guess what I'm tring to say is be open-minded about your son's wishes and desires. It's ultimately his life to live and if his high school career is any indicator, I would trust his judgment.

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T.K.

answers from Shreveport on

Does he have enough credits to graduate and let this be his fun year. That is what we did with our daughter. She to took ap and honors so her last year she only had to take was english and pe and oral comm. the other 8 periods was fun things she enjoyed doing a lot around theater and she had a ball and now she is getting ready for college. From the sound of it your son is smart tell him your fear and visit the colleges of his liking and let the colleges do the talking. You just might find out that your son is just book tired. That is what I come to call it for my daughter. The ap classes are harder than regular classes and to keep 3.74 average he has worked hard. Best of luck and my prayers are with you.

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S.J.

answers from Tulsa on

While a year break may be scary for you, it may be equally scary to him to go now. I currently have a college student and would hope that I would have handled it in this way...

Do your research and present the facts to him. Honestly tell him about your fears and how you possibly see his future unfolding if he misses this opportunity to go to college straight from high school. Be willing to hear his opinion about things (without being defensive) and then the 2 of you brainstorm to figure something out that is acceptable for both of you. Forcing him to go is probably not the right answer because he will be miserable and probably resent you for it (which means he probably won't do well). My husband went to college straight from high school because his parents wanted him too. He wasn't comfortable telling them how he felt (that he wasn't sure he wanted to go or maybe just needed a break) and he did terrible and ended up dropping out. 3 years later he went back and made straight A's because it was something that he really wanted to do. So, here's an example of success after taking a break, however, be sure to present that this success story is the exception (that's what the facts show).

Good luck and I will be praying for you.

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R.S.

answers from Pine Bluff on

Hey L A....just breathe...it sounds like your son has a pretty good head on his shoulders...from his GPA, to work ethic, to the fact that he discussed this possibility with his parents...that's maturity...my suggestion (as a mother of a 21 year old college student) is to express your concerns but as long as he does take care of his own expenses, etc still stand behind him...if he bombs be there to encourage him to get back up, go on back to school, etc...but that you are still there for him however it turns out. At this age, he's just trying to figure out who he is in life, if he doesn't persue it now he may never get the opportunity...that might be a major life regret....and it sounds like he really doesn't want to disappoint you and his dad...for that kind of kid, that's huge....still express your concerns but let him know that you're there for him....i know it's scary...just believe in him and be there for him...good luck, R.

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B.L.

answers from Oklahoma City on

A year off is scary. You can come back, but sometimes they don't. Once you get off the academic track sometimes it is hard to readjust to that lifestyle. Is it a hobby he can focus on during summer breaks? evenings and weekends? For some reason, I'm more comfortable with a year break after college before getting job, but sometimes that makes the job search tough. But I doubt he wants to wait 5 years for his break.

On his side, there are very few times in life when you can take a break. One is before committing to work and raising a family. The other is after retirement. So if there is something you really want to do, one could argue that this is the time to do it.

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S.M.

answers from Jonesboro on

I sure feel sorry for you and can see why you would be scared. If your son is smart and one of the highest GPA in his class, does he realize what great scholarships he will most likely receive? I would be worried that he might not get those same opportunities for scholarships later. I know he can get some help later, but not sure to what extent. Have you or your son spoken to the counselor? That might answer some of your questions. My son received his Associates then laid out a semester, or two. Thankfully, he did go back and get his BA. If your son wants to pursue this hobby and doesn't, then should something happen in the next few years and he decides to marry, he might never get the opportunity again. Good luck,

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T.L.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hey,
I have a nephew that was the same way in high school. Very smart and took a lot of AP classes. He took a year off and then went to college. He is at the top of class making a's and b's. Sometimes, I think we forget that they are just children. Let him play. He's worked hard to get where he is now. If he needs a break let him try it. Our children are pushed hard all through school at times they just need a break. Make some agreements with him. Remember he is still a growing adult and will be from now on. He'll get there.

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A.C.

answers from Lawton on

Shwo him statistics on students who make it back to school in a timely manner after "taking a year off" that was my plan afte rmy first two years of college after my associates degree but it has been 10 years now and i am just decideding i want to go back,lol. IT is his life afterall and he sounds smart hopefully he will make the best choice for him. goodluck.

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T.S.

answers from Montgomery on

I say let him take some time off! I took 2 years off before college and it was a great idea. I learned that YEP, I need that college degree more than I thought.

I was also a little more mature and handled college like college and NOT like an extension of high school.

T.
http://www.wellnessiseasy.com

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M.K.

answers from New Orleans on

He's 17 years old, and easily has that one year cushion. He sounds like he's mature and has a good head on his shoulders. I'd say that you sit down with him, go over his plan for that year, as well as what he plans to do in collge--does his degree plan have anything to do with the hobby he loves so much? If so, then a year to pursue it fully might actually help him once he gets in.

Point is, you can either force him to go to college when his heart isn't in it, and find that he drops out and doesn't go back. Or you can throw the dice, give him his year off on the hope that he'll enter college with enthusiasm.

Long story short? I vote for giving him the time off. Just make sure that about half-way through it, you give him a little nudge to remind him what the deal is. :)

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J.C.

answers from New Orleans on

I am a 39 yr old mom of two. I have two kids, 5 and 7, and I may even encourage them to do this when they are headed to college. I stay at home - hubby works. When I was 17, I didn't think to do what your son is considering. I followed the "rules" and went straight to college and got good grades. I've regretted it! Not because I wanted to party, or put it off, but because I wish I had been in the real world for a year before going to college and making HUGE decisions on what my career would be without having experienced any real workplace. I wish I had gotten internships in and experience in a job that I had interest in (not the checkout girl at the shoe store kind). Your son sounds VERY mature. Even if he wants to take a year off to go white water rafting, trust him to do what is right for him. It will give him time to grow and make important decisions about his future. School is so hard core - go go go - I think ALL students should skip at least that first semester so that they can stop and think about LIFE, not algebra.
Here's a couple of good articles:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007...

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/school/year-off-co...
(I like the temp agency idea, because he can make some pocket change and get a look at the inside of more than one type of company.)
There is even a book you can read:
The Gap-Year Advantage: Helping Your Child Benefit from Time Off Before or During College

Hope this helps!

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C.S.

answers from Jackson on

I have a son who is in collage right now.. or will be going into his second year. Right now he is 18.. he was one of the youngest in his class. If my son had come to me with the same question.. knowing he is young I would of let him take the year off.. but knowing my son I would have to kick him back collage.. So it all is about how well you know your son.
My loves collage.. It is hard,, but he like its. How well do you know your son? This hobby of his, will it take a life of it own? What does he want to take in collage?

My son wanted to take computer sciences. His last year of high school his friends made a book-report/film and he fell in love with film making. Now he is in broadcasting. so his hobby make him change his mind on what he wanted to take.

You son sound like a very smart guy. I would give him credit that I bet he has been thinking about this for a while and very hard before he brought it up to his parents. Give him credit for that. I bet he will be fine, and if not you will there to help him up when he falls or hold his hands when he does good..

I think I would let him take the year off.. and some times you can take just the first semester off. so there is another idea.

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J.P.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Is there a local community college or junior college where he can take a few of his basic classes and then transfer the credits to his main college of choice later? This would give him time to pursure his hobby and work to pay his bills. Don't stress too much about it. A lot of people take a semester or two off before getting down to business with classes.
J.

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J.H.

answers from Oklahoma City on

We watched a show about this and its a common thing now. A lot of kids are actually taking the time to go backpacking thru Europe or joining various NPO's that travel. They said that for the most part, it was actually better than jumping straight into college. It took about a year for them to start missing school anyway, and the kids were ready to dive right back in. They were also more responsible when it came to their schooling, and not prone to "partying" so much. He sounds like he's already a very responsible guy, so I wouldn't be too alarmed about it. And college plans can still be made so that he feels obligated when the time comes.I hope this helps :}

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A.K.

answers from Tulsa on

I understand your worries but your hubby is right you can not make him go. I would let him take the time off if he will argree for you full out the appalcation with fall of 2010 as the starting date. I would also want him to have a plan in hoe w to use this time to decide what he wants to studying went he does go to school.

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M.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I can't speak from the mother point of view (my son is only one year old...not quite in the college mindset yet) but I can hopefully give you a little comfort about your son. I was one of those AP students in high school too. I had top grades, top of my class and received a scholarship that just about pays for four years of college. A college education was extremely important to me (I'm now studying to do PT too), but I just got burned out on school. I took a semester off and ended up surprising myself by how much I truly missed school. When I went back I was fueled with the fire to do even better, and it was made easier because now I actually enjoy and appreciate what I am doing. I know time off from college can go one of two ways, so I understand you being so concerned. From my own experience, I would like to say if your son is as smart and ambitious as he sounds to be, a little time off might just help him reaffirm his goals and give him the little rest he needs.
Best wishes to your family.

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N.W.

answers from Little Rock on

I have heard it is a lot harder to go after the break. But if he just wanted to party in college it would be a waste of time and money. I have five children and one of mine did just that. Partied the first time he went and didn't make it. The next time he tried he was ready and went on to seminary, and is now a missionary. One of mine went straight to college and she did fine. Your son has probably gone to school for about 13 years already. After college comes work probably the rest of his life. I believe if the decision is his he will have no one to blame or credit but himself. Unconditional love on your part is needed during this scary time in your young ones life.

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C.P.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Hi LA,
I'm so "there" with you right now! My son is 18 and will be starting college this fall. He's talked a couple of times about taking a break, but since he was able to take advantage of concurrent enrollment his senior year in high school, he already has close to a full year of college hours behind him (27 hours). We have gone through a lot of angst as in the beginning he wanted to "go away" to school out of state. Now, he has settled (more realistically) on a school here in the OKC area, and seems ready to go, but from time to time, the pressure of thinking about all of it has him talking about taking a year off. It scares me, too. My daughter, who is three years older, went to college for 2 years then dropped out. She works full time and supports herself, but I just know how much it means to have a college degree in this day and time. Still trying to talk her into going back! I think maybe if she'd taken a year off she might have stayed in school though. She was just burned out, and had had to deal with lots of pressure coming from a big, competitive high school. Both of them ended up with very high GPAs and were in the top 3% of their classes. I think it might have made a big difference if we'd let her take a year off. She is doing well right now without the degree, but that might not last forever. My niece took a year off and it worked out well for her. She came back ready to go to school and really threw herself into it, heart and soul. I hope it helps to know there are others out there going through this, too. Feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]____.com if you want to talk!
C.

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K.M.

answers from Tulsa on

L A,

As someone who never finished college and now wishes she had, I'd say let him explore his hobby. A year off of high school would have done wonders for me. I essentially did that when I was 20 and in that one year I grew up a whole lot. At 17 very few people know what they want to do when they are "grown".

K.

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J.H.

answers from Baton Rouge on

As a mother of college grads and children in there thirties I have to ask.Do you trust the fact that you raised him to be a well grounded person? My son was like that he excelled in school and started working at a young age. He saved his money bought his own car and after graduation he took some time off before going to college. He said he needed a break too. I wasn't happy about it and I had the same fears that you did. But, your son sounds like a nice responsible young man and that he realizes he can't get a good job without a college degree like my son did. So, I just trusted him and the decision he has made for his life. And that I loved and always believed that I raised him to be the responsible man that he was then and still is to this day. I gave him life and at some point he had to decide what he was going to do with it. So, I guess what I am saying is..If you raised him to be the young man that you needed him to be then you can trust the fact that he will go back to school and become the man that he needs to be due to your love and guidance. I hope this helps because I know how hard it is..My children are in their thirties and I still worry about them your never stop being Mommy no matter what age they are. Good Luck..J.

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S.H.

answers from Mobile on

well seems like u have very smart son,i think that maybe a good idea for him to do what he loves and he smart too.i know so many who have went to college got degree and still got where. i say go for it chase that dream , the dream he has.

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A.M.

answers from Oklahoma City on

If I were in your shoes, I will make sure that I use any possible means to convince him not to take a break. It is very easy to continue your studies without a break but once you break, it is the hardest to get back to your studies. Once you get into the society and get involved with work, another issue will come up, and will delay and eventually prevent him from going back to school- you may very much not be suprised that one year of break may turn to two, three, four, etc. I am an adult who love to pursue further studies/education, and I can tell you taking classes as an adult with work and family, it has never been easy, and I have never stopped thinking about my old days of school-during my college years where my job was just to study. Now I struggle with kids, work, and school to get my second degree. Should I had continued right away when I finished my first degree, this wouldn't have been a story in my life, and I can possitively tell you that I regret now as to why I waited to continue with my studies at late years.So, my dear fellow parent, don't let your teenager break from continue taking his college studies right away when he still have fresh school discipline. Once that get out of hand, to get it back is a struggle. Tell him while the brain is still fresh he should not stop rather accelerate-and faster the better. Support him in every way you can to make him understand that what is important for him now and for his future is his studies-EDUCATION IS A KEY OF LIFE-IT UNLOCK MANY DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY!!!

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W.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Dear LA:

I invite you to see the strength in you and your son's relationship, as I am sure you know it is strong. He came to you even though he knew it may disappoint you and took that risk because of the respect he obviously has for the relationship with you both. What a testament to your parenting over all the years.

My daughter was all ready to go to KU last year. We had her dorm picked out and were so excited. Two weeks before classes began she chose to take off with her boyfriend. She is now facing the consequences of that choice. I love her dearly and wish she had chosen a different path (she does too, subsequently) but I know I raised her with love and with the ability to make the best decisions even if she messes up every once in a while because the fact of the matter is...we all do.

Don't be afraid to be honest with your son...if you are disappointed say so...these are your feelings. This is a critical threshold into the rest of his years. He will remember how you handled this forever. I would let the conversation go something like this:

"Son, parents look forward to this time in their children's lives and statistics bare out that if college is put off a year that you could put it off even longer, so yes, we are a little disappointed. However, you have always shown us what a responsible child and young adult you are and that we can take you at your word. If you say you need some time then we will trust that you know what you are doing. Please know that in the future if we ask you about college plans, it is not to make you feel bad. We have a little more experience at life and know education is so important. Most of all, we love you and are so very proud of you. Thank you for coming to us and discussing such an important decision with us."

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D.B.

answers from Shreveport on

1st thing you tell him is that you love him. It sounds like tha you have a very level headed son. Always keep the lines of communications open. Have a sit down talk with him. Be open and honest about how you feel. Let him be open and honest with you of why he wants to do what he wants to do. Both of you make a pro and con list (about going now and laying out for a year) and go over it with each other. Good luck with what is going on. One last thing--I laid out for 1 year and was so much more ready to go when it was time. To this day I hold a BS degree in Education and now 2 classes short of an Associate Degree in Paramedicine.

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D.M.

answers from Lawton on

My husband and I both wish our parents had given us the chance to take some time off. I didn't know what I wanted to do but my mom said I had to go to college...so I went for a year+ and then quit. It took me 3 years to go back and I did bust my rear and graduate in 4 years while working full time, but I think it would have been easier to have that first initial year off to get some more money together as well as figure out what I wanted to do. My husband also wanted to take some time off, but his parents were adament that he attend...and he did, but barely. I would say go ahead and let him take a year off, but you could also work up a sort of "contract" so that he keeps his word about working and paying for his expenses, and should he lapse on his part, your part steps in and he goes to college. Of course it is much easier to say to someone else, and I hope that if our daughter comes to us with the same proposal years from now than he and I can draw from our experiences and trust her judgement as well. I would hate to burn her out by forcing her to go when she really does not want to be there. It makes learning nearly impossible. I hope this helps and that your family reaches an agreement.

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S.M.

answers from Lawton on

Hi. I have taught at a variety of colleges for about 10 years, so I have seen the gammut as far as differing students. If your son truly feels he needs a break, let him take it. I have seen too many kids burn out and not go back.

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A.C.

answers from Birmingham on

Dear LA,
Please, please let him!! I was in this situation when I graduated from high school and didn't get the opportunity. I feel that it would have helped me to mature and know better what I wanted to do in that year. Now, I graduated with honors and am not even working in that field because even though it was something I could do well, it really wasn't what I wanted to do. I definitely think you should hold him to the responsibilities that he has and that if he isn't in school he should be working enough to pay his expenses, but giving him a chance to look around him could be a good idea. You can set a time limit (like one school year) and set some expectations (like if he decides not to go to school at that time, he will get a real job and move out.) If you can afford it, the gift of time is sometimes the best one we can give. I wish you all the best.

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R.S.

answers from Tulsa on

Honey, It depends on the hobby. If its something like underwater basket weaving, then no. Go to school. Taking a "break" makes going back to school so much harder. Your mind set changes and he needs to just tough it out.

On the other hand if what he is doing enhances what he wants to do for a career, as in an internship or something applicable then go for it, at least he is learning something that will help his future career goals.

I have two kids. both with great potential. One decided her senior year (being blind in one eye) to become an EMT. Except nobody will hire her because you have to pass a military style physical to get the job. Now she's a CNA.

My son dropped high school. He was being recruited by the school football team, he wanted to do under water welding for some odd reason. I know exactly what it's like to be scared for your kids.

Good luck to you and to him.
R.

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T.T.

answers from Lafayette on

I think taking a year off is a good thing. They get a taste of "real" life, and have a better appreciation for higher education.

I took time off before starting college. In my case, I just didn't know what I wanted to do. There were so many options. Now, I am a chiropractor, and own my own practice. I appreciated the education so much more than I would have had I not taken the time off.

It sounds like he has a level head on his shoulders, and I would respect his decision.

Good Luck!
T. Theriot, D.C.

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K.B.

answers from Tulsa on

He sounds like he's very level headed. He's made good grades while working, and even more amazing, he is still keeping his parents in the loop at 17yrs old...I say he deserves a break. Let him take the year, relax a bit, have some fun and he can go back in a year. He's earned it, he's worked hard to maintain his average at school, and frankly, he's old enough to make his own decisions, he's just being thoughtful enough to include you. Thank him but stepping aside and letting him take the break he needs.

Hope that helps.

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S.K.

answers from Birmingham on

I think your son is truly smart if he has decided to do this. Not just academically smart, but also life smart. You should be proud of him.
Just a couple of days ago, I heard this debate on NPR .... about the 'Gap Year' or 'Bridge Year'. It mentioned that more children are taking a year off before going to college, including those with excellent academic grades. Infact, it was also mentioned that this is the new trend on the rise that most colleges are encouraging, because the students learn life skills and are more responsible, self-suffient and mature when they join back after their break. Princeton University is planning to subsidize tuitions to students who spend a year doing public service.
Here are some links for you to gauge the Gap Year's popularity and possibilities:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9252...
http://kjirstinbentson.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/gap-or-not/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/1496182.stm
http://www.dmoz.org//Regional/Europe/United_Kingdom/Educa...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_year
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/03/college/coll03gap.html?...
http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-06-18-gap-yea...
http://www.statravel.com/cps/rde/xchg/us_division_web_liv...
http://www.rusticpathways.com/gapyear.html
A year off can be one of the best investments he can make in his life/education.

Just want to add some ------
Let him explore another country or see a different culture where they work harder to make ends meet, so he comes back with renewed energy and a clarity regarding his future goals.
I have 3 masters degrees and 2 of them were after a break ... I had a more mature perspective and took electives that I am still glad I did.

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B.W.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I took a year off myself, between high school and college and then again between college and grad school. I taught at a community college part-time for 10 years when my kids were little and saw plenty of students who were going to college because they were ready after having been forced to go by their parents and then dropping or flunking out. After some time in the real world, they were working hard at succeeding. Your son does need to know that he won't be covered by your medical insurance and will need to get private insurance if he isn't a full time student. It sounds as if he has a pretty level head. You might trust his instincts that he just isn't ready. Also, with so many students waiting to start kindergarten or first grade these days, it is quite common to see 19-year-old college freshmen!

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K.H.

answers from Tulsa on

Hi,
Boy that is tough! I agree though that you can't force him.
I am taking college classes now and I see so many kids that are there because their parents made them go, it is a big waste of money several don't show up for class or spend their class time texting etc. It is better to wait until he is ready. I love that he is open about talking about it though I wonder if he might be interested in just taking a fun class to keep his foot in the door? He could do a junior college and get one out of the way. Good luck! K. H

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K.A.

answers from Huntsville on

Hi,
How about suggesting he take some/a few easy basic classes at a local junior college while he does his hobby thing. I did that my first year after high school and not only did it keep me in touch with my education and prevent me from wanting to quit altogether (which may be what happens if he gets a taste of the "free world"), it was a nice way to start my more difficult college years. I was an A student in high school but college ain't high school and it hits some kids really hard when they find that out. College isn't for everyone but it should be something that almost everyone tries for a while. I'm sure he's a great kid and you are proud but he can't say he will keep his promise about going to school because he's not had a taste of being an "adult" yet. Freedoom is awesome but will trick you. Make some kind of a deal with him that he can't back out of-even a family "contract" where he "signs" on his promise could work. Good luck and God Bless and be proud of your tears and your worry-they show how much you love your son. Kel

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T.S.

answers from Montgomery on

I think your son has proven himself responsible and you have done a great job raising your son. Let him take this year be involved so you have a good chance of stearing him back to college. The fact that he wants to be responsible enough to pay for everything that year will teach him some great life lessons. Also taking the year off now is better then later in life, let him take the chance and the risk now it will be such a great learning experience, even if it fails.
Also there are some great men who never went to college and have made millions just from their drive and passion to succeed. So have him pay you so much a month for his bills and either use it for that or put it away for when he goes to college or gets his first place and help him in this time off phase. If you make him go and he is miserable he could be resentful and quit all together and never end up going back.

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J.M.

answers from Jackson on

He is going to be a senior in high school this year, right? I would have to look at it from a financial point of view as well. Is your family financially secure enough to pay for his college? With his GPA and class rank, it sounds like he could possibly get some scholarships. Once you have graduated though, and take off a year, I don't think you can get any scholarships, but you can get financial aid. Has he thought about taking a few classes at a local community college? That would be easier and he could still pursue his hobby, while not getting too behind in college. Truthfully, freshman year is usually not that difficult. Most students are taking their basics. If he took a light load (4 classes), he would have plenty of time to do his hobby. I lean more toward starting college right after high school. I just think it is harder for students to go back after being out. I'm a 15 year high school teacher and community college teacher, so I have seen most scenarios.

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