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Kids and college
Old 02-18-2014, 03:19 PM   #1
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Kids and college

So...my mom-worrying tendency is rearing it's ugly head. DH and I have three children. They are all average students most likely to be B students. Oldest could do better but does not have a strong motivation to do well in school which frustrates me to no end (he also has ADHD). Middle child pretty much works up to her ability. Youngest has some minor learning disabilities (and ADHD) and really dislikes school. We encourage all three to try hard! We also get them involved in different activities that they are interested in which I believe is very important.

DH and I are both college graduates but did not pursue post-grad education, although I used to think I might (before kids came along). Our three are adopted (internationally).

What kinds of advice should we be giving our kids about college, etc? I just don't know if I can see my boys making it through a four year college degree. My daughter might, who knows? I want them to be able to financially provide for themselves (obviously), but mostly I want them to be HAPPY.

Any advice? Thoughts? Am I worrying too much?
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:25 PM   #2
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If they have the aptitude and the interest, I would encourage them to learn trades. For example, there will always be a need for plumbers!

One thing that I wish I could have done when I was a teenager is job shadowing. If I knew then what I know now......
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:34 PM   #3
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I am waiting with bated breath for others to chime in since I am in a similar position as the op with my younger daughter. She has a bit of ADD coupled with lack of motivation but I can't see myself medicating her.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:38 PM   #4
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I knew a couple of guys that were diagnosed ADHD and they thrived in my job - police work. They love that fast-paced environment. Almost all of the better departments now require a 4-year degree but they're not fussy about what the degree is in because they want and need that wide range of expertise.

Stolen artwork? Call the guy with the degree in art.
Stolen cattle? Call the guy who grew up on a farm and has a degree in animal husbandry.
Network intrusion? Call the guy with the IT degree.

Even if they don't have the answers they know who to call to find out.

You get the idea.

I'm sure other occupations have similar issues and opportunities.

Yes, Mom, you're worrying too much.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:48 PM   #5
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I'll give my input. Any person (not born as trust-fund baby) has to have something that will support them in life. That means a skill that others will pay for.

That skill can be using your back or your brain, or some combination between those. As Meadbh pointed out, there are a lot of six-figure income plumbers - you just have to be able to put with the sh!t once in awhile. Same for other skilled trades, nothing to be ashamed of a skilled trade, as stated above people will pay you for your expertise and ability to do that work. Being your own boss and starting a small business may be one of the best ways to make it without a degree, but you need to have a skill to "sell" that customers will pay for.

I have worked full time since 15 during summers and part-time during school through college until graduation. Even did some co-op time during college to make extra money and get better experience. Honest work never hurt anyone and it gives an appreciation for what it takes to make that money. I was on 5-year plan in college (Engineer) due to working and being essentially self-supporting student. So once graduating, I had bad case of senioritis and tired of being poor broke student. Although I applied and was accepted for grad school, I chose to go to work instead. Tried the evenings for grad school (MBA), but life and work travel made it difficult so gave that up. I have tremendous respect for anyone that can do night school and work full time plus.

On the discussion of college, there are many jobs that have as a entry requirement to have a BS/BA minimum. Not that the job needs a specific degree, it just shows you can do a set course and complete it. The job may have a lot of specialized OJT, but they want people that have demonstrated some level of accomplishment.

There are also a high percentage of people that get a degree and end up transitioning into a job that has no real correlation to their degree by the end of their career. Look how many people become entrepreneurs and leave the workplace to start their own business.

I think the best you can do as a parent is to encourage your kids to learn self-sufficiency and strive to do their best. It does not mean college as the end result. However, once you have a piece of paper with your name and a degree, nobody can take that away from you. More letters and certifications after your name are always going to be beneficial.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:51 PM   #6
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My two youngest children have ADHD. Neither one has much patience for subjects that they don't find interesting.

My son is 2E -- GT with learning disability - in his case, he is dysgraphic (he has huge difficulty with handwriting so he takes all of his tests that require writing on computer and he doesn't have to fill in scantrons and he gets extended time on tests - that is mostly due to the ADHD). He is on a 6 year plan to get a degree. He started CC at 16 and has never taken more than 12 hours in a semester, often only 9 hours. He had one really bad semester, but has done well on the others. It took him awhile to get the hang of deadlines and juggling all that he had to do. Living at home and taking reduced hours helped him. He didn't know for the longest time what he wanted to major in. He tried a lot of different things and found them all wanting. Finally, last May I took him and his sister to do aptitude testing at Aptitude Testing at the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation. This was life altering for both of them and I highly recommend it. It doesn't just ask interests (they do ask this) but tests to find out what you are really good it. After the testing, DS changed his major to computer science. So far, he really likes it. And, it holds his interest which is really important for someone with ADHD. In his case, he has a strong desire for a 4 year degree and he enjoys learning new things in an academic sort of way so I think that is a good choice for him.

What I've had to realize is that no matter how smart he is (he graduated high school at 15), his ADHD does change some things for him. He isn't on the 4 year plan. His college plan is more meandering and slower. He is now a junior but has tons of extra courses that don't count for his degree. I've realized that his getting through college in 6 years is realistic for him.

My daughter also has ADHD. She is in many ways the opposite of the son I describe above. She isn't academically inclined. She doesn't like doing a lot of reading or writing. She doesn't like studying the kinds of things that she would have to study for a 4 year degree. She would hate a job that required her to do a lot of reading and writing.

We homeschooled her during high school so I knew well before she graduated that she had no interest in a 4 year degree. On the other hand, she certainly wanted to have training to do something beyond high school. We did a career planning course. I went an looked at the certificate and technical education offerings at several nearby community colleges. I avoided the for profit trade schools which are insanely expensive. In most instances, you can get the same training for a fraction of the cost at a community college. I then went down the list of programs with my daughter to see which ones interested her. She hates math/science, for example, so she rejected all the medical related courses (and there were a lot of them, many of which would be great for someone who does like science). Of the ones that were left, we then went and look at career prospects and read about what the career was really like. Through this, she ended up rejecting cooking as a career.

After doing all of this, she chose a field that she was interested in. In her case, it was administrative services, specifically office communications. She took one course last fall as a dual credit course, then started full time this semester. She is absolutely loving her courses. She is doing well academically. What is great for her is that most of her courses involve her doing stuff. She has one course, for example, that teaches her how to use PowerPoint. Most of the work is actually doing projects using PowerPoint. She loves that. She loves courses where she can do stuff. She doesn't find that boring and is very happy with it.

If her brother gets his C.S. degree he will probably make more money than she will. But - she would never get a C.S. degree. That isn't where her interests or talents are. However, with the courses she is taking she is learning skills that will help her to find a job. And, she enjoys what she is learning. Having a B.A. or B.S. is fine for those who talents lie in that directions. But, that isn't everyone.
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Old 02-18-2014, 04:00 PM   #7
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You don't say how old your kids are. Your kids may not start looking at that sort of thing until the last couple of years of high school. About all you can do that is concrete is to let them know that sponging off Mom and Dad when they are out of school is not an option.

We had a very expensive solution. Our kids went to a private school and the only question was which school would they attend. That was a focus of all the families as well as the school itself. It worked fabulously. My daughter also has ADD and has graduated from college and is doing what she loves to do.
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Old 02-18-2014, 04:08 PM   #8
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They may turn around yet, but if not there is a lot to be said for technical and trade school jobs that pay just as well as many college majors and aren't as easily outsourced.

Our kids are getting much better grades in college than they did in high school. They went to an academically hard high school so college is actually easier for them than high school was, they found majors they really enjoy and they are looking forward to getting paid to work in a field that they like.

I think it helped to review the payscale reports on salaries and job prospects by major with them. They can see the tangible benefits now of how getting good grades + volunteer work + internships = good job when they graduate = interesting career, nice car, money for travel, etc.

http://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report-2014

Today's kids, especially high energy boys, get diagnosed with ADHD for not being able to sit in a hard plastic, unergonomic desk from 8 - 3, often with very little physical movement and getting disciplined for talking, reading Beowulf and writing essays on the inner meaning of the Grapes of Wrath and then looking forward to 2 hours more of homework after school ends.

I am not so sure that is a defect in the kids as it is in our school system. I think college with shorter class periods and less busywork is healthier and easier for many kids and part of the reason our kids are doing better in college than they did in high school.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:25 PM   #9
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You guys (and gals) are awesome! Your feedback has been really helpful. My kids are pretty young yet so things could change with them, but a mother usually knows these things...

Walt...I have read that law enforcement is sometimes a really good choice for people with ADHD, now just promise momma that they won't get shot . But seriously, I'd be really proud if one of my kids chose this route.

Katsmeow...wow! Thank-you! My oldest son and your son sound similar. It helps to hear great stories like this. I hadn't thought about a longer college time-table.

I will say we are very lucky living where we live because if need be, our kids could live at home while furthering their educations. We have a good state school and several good technical schools close to home. We also have a great private catholic university closeby, but costs there are really prohibitive.

Anyway thanks! And momma will try to stop worrying.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:35 PM   #10
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I am waiting with bated breath for others to chime in since I am in a similar position as the op with my younger daughter. She has a bit of ADD coupled with lack of motivation but I can't see myself medicating her.

We did end up medicating both of our boys. They just are able to concentrate so much better! They are both on methylphenidate (generic for Concerta). We struggled with this decision, especially when our oldest was first diagnosed. We saw his grades rise quite substantially after starting it which made us feel like we made the right decision. I remember watching our oldest son literally bounce around the house when he was younger. Our youngest used to "bounce" too but also is more behavioral as far as impulse control. We are hoping that as the boys get older maybe they will learn how to cope without meds.

Medicating is a very personal decision!!! Each parent/s has to make his or her own best decision.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:38 PM   #11
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My former hairdresser (for 20 years) has ADHD. She is wonderful at her job and is highly successful at it, because she can use her creative and artistic talents.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:29 PM   #12
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I am waiting with bated breath for others to chime in since I am in a similar position as the op with my younger daughter. She has a bit of ADD coupled with lack of motivation but I can't see myself medicating her.
Grandson is ADHD and has been on medication (with his permission) since first grade but only during the week and only during the school year. Don't know if he is still taking it. He is (very) smart but he didn't do much more than the minimum in high school. Did very well on the ACT, at least on the second try after not trying very hard on the first try.

He started college in September at the college where step-daughter works. Three A's and a B the first term. I was surprised. Ultimately, he wants to get his engineering degree at a bigger/better school but for now he is doing the basics for half price where his mom works.

He was amenable to medication because he could not function in a classroom without it and he knew it at the ripe old age of seven. How many kids get kicked out of kindergarten?

He saw his parents get their degrees as adults (his dad graduated the same week grandson graduated from high school) and has apparently decided it much easier to do it right out of high school. His parents always made it known to him they expected him to attend college as soon as he graduated high school so I suppose they conditioned him a bit. He always had a choice but he definitely would have been expected to be working full-time immediately after graduating if he expected to keep his old bedroom for any length of time.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:40 PM   #13
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Since there's a lot of discussion here about ADD and ADHD. Here's a mini-hijack.

My younger son has been dx'd with ADHD and disgrafia. But due to some other issues, we're now looking at seeing if he has the MTHFR genetic mutation. It got triggered when his therapist suggested his ADHD might actually be an anxiety disorder. We've avoided ADHD meds and anxiety/depression meds - and are actually hoping he tests positive for the mutation... since it's treatable with special vitamins. (mutation makes it so folate isn't broken down enough to cross the blood brain barrier - which can cause mood disorders and symptoms related to ADHD. Treatable with methylfolate vitamins.) I've checked my husband and my 23 and me results for the two markers - we're both compound heterozygous on those markers... so there's a decent chance my son might have one or both homogenious mutations. This would definitely impact his ability to methylize folate.... which has a whole host of symptoms.

My sons are 11 and 13. No clue if they'll got to college - but all signs point to it. But I'm prepared to support them through trade school if that's their choice.
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:07 PM   #14
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Grandson is ADHD and has been on medication (with his permission) since first grade but only during the week and only during the school year.
Daughter's 2nd grade teacher told us she had a problem. DW put her in a summer class and observed from back of class. Others were working away and 5 min later DD would pick up the pencil. After many tests, etc. she was diagnosed with ADD and put on the lowest dose available. Made a major difference. She likewise only took it in school year. When she got to driving age, doc said she needed to take it all the time from a safety standpoint. It really makes a difference with her reaction time. And that is according to her. She has also said her friends and co-workers can tell when she has forgotten her meds. She is 23, graduated from college, and enjoying working in her field.
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:24 PM   #15
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Dontworry and Buckeye thanks for sharing about the decision to medicate. You could not imagine how much time I have spent researching ADD and how much I agonize over whether I am making the right decision not to medicate. My daughter's issue is more around focus and attention with not much behavioral issues. She focuses only on things that she finds interesting. She loves Science and Math and by her own admission hates every other subject and hates school. At 12 she's decided that all she ever wants to do is cook and bake.

While medication would help with her grades (she fluctuates between B- and B average), it is not a permanent solution. Studies show that few kids stay on it longterm and the improvement in grades can be short lived. I also saw some research where the outcome is not so different for medicated vs non medicated and that as they continue on the medicine the brain needs more and more of the medication. Most of the studies were done on boys. I am hoping that my daughter would get better as she grows up or she would develop coping mechanisms. I already see small changes as she gets older. Maybe ADD should not be considered an illness but more as a different type of brain. My daughter is so talented in the arts and has a wonderful and kind nature. She is also left handed and it seems that may contribute to her ADD.
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:35 PM   #16
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Here is mine and DW's tale.

We were both terrible students in Junior and High School. I mean to the point of repeating a grade. Different schools, different cities, same state, if that matters. In both of our families going to college was expected. It is what you did after high school. We both graduated in four years, and we both have Master Degrees. ADHD did not exist when we were in school, or I am sure I would have been diagnosed with it. DW not so much, but maybe.

We have two children. Both went to college. It took the first about five years to finish and it was a rough first two years when she finished one year of college. She is now a very successful 8th grade english teacher with a Master's Degree. DS, took ten years to get his degree. When he did he had a double major in economics and finance. However, he has used neither of these. He is a Major in the Marine Corp, and a helicopter pilot, and has more money than I had at this stage in his life.

Four people, none were good students in high school, all were C-B students in college, and all went on to have successful careers.

So, what is my advice for the OP. If you want the kids to have a college degree, set an environment that encourages it. Don't be surprised if they don't finish in four years. However, if they decide not to go to college, support that also. However, support their ambitions, and not there lifestyle. With both kids we had to cut them off at some point, and make them pay their own way.

On the college side, a friend of mine gave me what I think is great advice. Tell the kids they are going to go to school of student loans. When they graduate you will pay off the loans. If they don't graduate the debt is theirs. He had two sons. One went to school for three years then got a job in construction. Three years later he ask if the deal still stood if he went back to school. Father said yes and son graduated and moved on with his life. Second son is a lawyer.
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:37 PM   #17
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My oldest does tell me he notices a difference (positive) when he takes his medication. WE notice the difference when our youngest takes his medication. Our oldest only takes his med during school week and not during summer. Youngest takes it year-round so far. Hopefully eventually they won't need to keep taking the meds.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:06 PM   #18
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Today's kids, especially high energy boys, get diagnosed with ADHD for not being able to sit in a hard plastic, unergonomic desk from 8 - 3, often with very little physical movement and getting disciplined for talking, reading Beowulf and writing essays on the inner meaning of the Grapes of Wrath and then looking forward to 2 hours more of homework after school ends.
Without a doubt there are kids who get diagnosed with ADHD when that is not the appropriate diagnosis. On the other hand, not every child diagnosed with ADHD has received an inappropriate diagnosis. My son was diagnosed when he was 6. He is 19 now. There is no question whatsoever that it was an appropriate diagnosis. He wasn't just a wiggly little boy. It went way beyond that. My daughter, on the other hand, isn't hyperactive at all. She has the inattentive type of ADHD. Again, after many years it is clear that the diagnosis was appropriate.

As for medication, both of my children take medication. For my son, in particular, it has been absolutely necessary. Medication was necessary for him, but not sufficient. His ADHD was quite severe. So severe that he spent 4 years in a very expensive therapeutic school. At that school, he learned a lot of the skills that are very important for him. For 4 years, he had a class every day in executive functioning (the primary deficit in most people with ADHD is in executive functioning). Everything he learned there was very important to him. However, he was available to learn it because of his medication.

One day, we forgot for him to take his medication in the morning. The head of the school called me later that morning. He said that sometimes they wonder if a particular student needs to be on medication. After seeing my son for a morning without medication, he said that he had no doubt whatsoever that my son was someone who really needed his medication.

My son is 19 now, and he has been able to significantly reduce his medication as he gets older and his brain develops a little more. There may well come a time when he doesn't need medication at all. But, there is no doubt to me that the medication has been a primary factor in all the progress he has made through the years.

For my daughter, she is not hyperactive to you don't see the dramatic change in her when she takes medication. But, even with her, medication makes a huge difference in her functioning.

A good physician will carefully consider the issue of medication and will try to give the lowest effective dose. They will look for side effects and try to adjust medication as needed. My son tried several different medications before ending up with the one he has now taken for several years.

FWIW, I'm not a big fan of pediatricians prescribing ADHD medication. There is a lot involved in deciding what medication works best for which person (my son and daughter take totally different meds) and in dealing with side effects or changes over time. We have found that having a good psychiatrist prescribing medication really is beneficial.
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:25 PM   #19
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Without a doubt there are kids who get diagnosed with ADHD when that is not the appropriate diagnosis. On the other hand, not every child diagnosed with ADHD has received an inappropriate diagnosis. My son was diagnosed when he was 6. He is 19 now. There is no question whatsoever that it was an appropriate diagnosis.
I don't think I posted that ADD wasn't a real issue or medication wasn't ever an appropriate treatment. I am sorry if I gave that impression.

My only point was that the current grade to high school system requires kids to sit for long periods of time, without a lot of physical or social activity except for lunch and gym, and maybe that really isn't the healthiest way for kids to learn, officially diagnosed with ADD or not. I personally would be bouncing off the walls if I had to sit in a hard plastic desk most of the day reading literature from the middle ages.

Studies do show that sitting for long periods is a lethal activity -

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/ma...ng-t.html?_r=0

And that exercise and nature are helpful for kids with ADD -

Exercise for Children With ADHD

My kids' focus and grades improved significantly in college. The reasons they gave me included not having to sit in uncomfortable chairs all day long, being able to schedule classes when they want, more interesting subject matter, being able to pick their professors, less homework, less boredom, etc. I think they are just happier having more control and freedom over what they learn. This isn't so different than many adults here who are unhappy and unmotivated with boring 40+ hours a week office or cubicle jobs.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:06 PM   #20
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I don't think I posted that ADD wasn't a real issue or medication wasn't ever an appropriate treatment. I am sorry if I gave that impression.
I don't think you did, just using your post to post on the overall issue. At one time, I was skeptical myself about ADHD. Then, I had kids with ADHD which was a great cosmic joke on me. I also do think that there are people who are inappropriately diagnosed, which bothers me. And, there are people who should be diagnosed who never do get diagnosed and never get help and that bothers me too. It is a complex issue. And, I certainly agree with the overall points you make about the current school system.
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