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My 19 yr Old Son Wants To Transfer To A Different University..Because Of A Girl

by Thelecia
(Tampa, FL)

Hi Annie, my 19 year old son is a college sophomore who goes to a state university about 2 hours from our home, he has always been a conscientious child, one that would always(since age 2 or 3) observe situations and then decide whether he would participate or not. A generally good student, graduated from a rigorous IB high school program last year, and typically has made good decisions in the past.

He went off to college last year, goofed off a bit too much during the first semester of freshman year and ended up on academic probation, was warned by the school that if he did not bring is GPA up to a 2.0 for the 2nd semester he would not be allowed to continue on as a student. This put the fear in him and he pulled himself together and ended up with a 2.5GPA for the semester.

Over this past summer he met a girl where he worked (in our town) who is 21, 2 years older, is not currently a student and has not gone to college in the past....OK so college is not for everyone, however, not my vision of the perfect girlfriend for my son ( I was picturing a great student, motivated and attending the same university)..but, I have worked through that.

This is his first girlfriend. The problem is that since he has returned to school for the fall semester this year, he has left school every Thursday evening after class to make the 2 hour drive back home...or should I say to the girlfriend's house. He does not have class on Friday or Monday (how convenient). He stays at the girlfriend's apartment until he leaves to go back to school on Tuesday morning ...for his 10:30 class. He is in and out of our home periodically while he is in town.

I am pretty upset that I have paid quite a bit of money for the apartment style dorm on campus that he spends only 2 nights in per week. I've mentioned this fact to him several times and he still comes home every week.

The issue that I am struggling with is that he has informed my husband and I that he wants to transfer to our local community college for the upcoming spring semester, get his GPA up so that he can transfer to the state university that is located in our town, about 20 minutes from our home. He was unable to transfer directly to the home town university because he needs a 3.0 GPA...which he doesn't have. In my conversations with him about this he says that the girlfriend has nothing to do with his decision to transfer, that he misses his guy friends that go the local university...which he hangs out with periodically....but not as much as before the girlfriend.

My husband and I said no, you need to stay where you are through the end of the spring and bring up your GPA at the current university then we can look into transferring. My husband and I believe that it is important to send the message that when things get tough you don't run away from them, you finish what you start. My son argues that he is going to finish...but just at a different school.....OK, true.

So we are worried about what kind of message we are sending him if allow him to transfer. He believes by going to the local community college it will be easier to bring up his GPA (smaller classes) so that he can transfer to the local university next fall. He says he is not happy were he is currently, that he is not happy with his 3 roommates, that they are into drinking (which is not his thing), that they've banged on his door at 3 in the morning (I guess that was one of the 2 nights that he was actually there :) asking him to come out and join them in their drinking festivities, etc.

I would have expected these problems last year, as a freshman not the 2nd year of college. Last year he came home about every 3 to 4 weeks and was very social and involved. The only thing that is different this fall is the girlfriend....which I have only met once...for 30 minutes....2 months ago.

So....with all that said, I am struggling with what is the right thing for my husband and I to do.....allow him to make the decision to transfer...he is 19 yrs old after all or force the issue to make him stay where he says he is not happy, that he is very stressed and worried about his ability to make the 3.0 where he is now. He even shed some tears about this two nights ago during our conversation about it....saying he can't do it. Meaning getting the 3.0 where he is. I feel strongly that he can...with some more effort and more time spent at school utilizing the resources available to him on campus.

Help Annie...I just want to guide my son in the right direction and I'm struggling with my boundaries as a parent.

Comments for My 19 yr Old Son Wants To Transfer To A Different University..Because Of A Girl

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Letting Go And Trusting Our Kids - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Thelecia,

I suspect you are not going to like what I am going to say. It seems to me your son has thought this through very carefully, being prepared to study at the community college to get his GPA up to the level required for a transfer shows a huge degree of commitment to me.

Maybe having a girlfriend is a factor in his decision, but equally there are other factors too, he is not happy in his living situation, does not want to have to deal with peer pressure about drinking - and this shows enormous maturity to me.

Don't forget, school is not the only skills he is learning at this stage in his life. Learning to relate is just as important, in fact even more so. The fact that he is sharing very deeply with you, to the point of tears, shows the depth of his feelings about it, plus it also shows what a close relationship he has with you, and how much he cares about what you think.

At 19 it is time he starts making his own decisions. Clearly he has discussed major decisions with you in the past, and leaned towards your preferences for him. This time he has thought very deeply about his preferences and wants a chance to make his own decision.

It actually doesn't even matter if it ends up being a mistake - and I know the cost of an education is a big factor. But life is full of choices and we can only make a decision based on the options at the time and how we feel about them. Making mistakes is actually incredibly valuable - but I am not saying it is a mistake.

The fact that he has shown he can knuckle down and work hard to get his GPA up again shows he is serious and committed to his education.

Part Two Follows . . .

Letting Go And Trusting Our Kids - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

It is hard when our kids start pulling away, but that is the stage he is at in his life - I know he will always be your little boy, but he is also a young man.

Clearly you and his father have given your perspective, maybe now is the time to let go and trust that no matter what choices he makes, he has had a fantastic base and has grown up with parents that care very deeply and want the best for him. As parents we think we know what is best, and sometimes we are wrong. If you can let him know you love him, you clearly have other preferences, but you trust him enough to let him make his own choice and will support him.

It is better to learn the skills of coping with change and rethinking and making new decisions than to stay stuck in something just because you are supposed to see it through. Who says having to finish what we start is what is best for our kids? We live in a fast paced world, people totally change their career's every 5 years and seldom end up doing the job they studied for. Much better for our kids to have the skills to weigh options, look for better choices and even if it bucks the current - stick out for what we believe in. Our kids need to know how to research, be resourceful, deal with change. When we look around at the world, one of the reasons many countries are floundering is because they keep doing the same thing and will not make any major changes.

Many Many of our bright young kids have not graduated from college. I know a college qualification has a high value, but it is not as if he is saying he wants to drop out. Quite the contrary, he is prepared to push himself the extra mile to be able to make his preferred choice. Maybe it is a lot to do with his girlfriend, but even so, he is not dropping out to be with her and work at Macdonalds.

Who knows where this relationship may lead, he is learning so much about himself and how to be a boyfriend, and in order to be a good husband and father himself one day, he needs those skills just as much as a college diploma. Making a choice not to have to drive such long distances to see her, means he has more time available for study, as well as his relationship. He could very well have not told you he was coming back each week to see her, but clearly he wants you on board with a relationship that is very important to him.

There are some good reasons he is wanting this change, even though it is not what you prefer.

Hard though it is Thelecia, I would recommend you let go and let him make his own decisions. Clearly he talks things over with you, and you are a very close family. Maintain that by trusting he is a young man moving into the world and you have done a fantastic job as parents.

Let me know how you go,
Good luck!

Annie D :)

Thank you Annie!
by: Thelecia

Thank you so much Annie for your straight forward answer and frankness. Your response is actually what was "niggling" in the back of my head as the right thing to do, but my husband was so adamant about him staying at the current university through the spring semester that I was doubting what in my heart of hearts I already knew.

So thank you so much for your advice. I have the clarity I need now in order to move forward and support my son in HIS decision.

Trust Your Heart!
by: Annie Desantis

Sounds like your intuition is telling you to let him make his own decision, so trust that.

He has had a wonderfully supportive upbringing and you have given him a great base of your values and beliefs so he has that within him as his core strength.

He will do just fine I am sure.

Best of luck,
Annie D :)

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