You might not be ready for college if...

You attended 5 classes of your Brain and Behavior course out of an 8 week summer session that meets daily, and stop going after the first exam. Which you failed. Repeating the exact same pattern from the previous semester when you were in my class.

And then.... your MOM shows up at my class to fight your grade battles for you, without you even being aware of it.

Yesterday, I had a student's mom show up at my classroom right before class. Apparently Precious Daughter was going to fail out while on academic probation. Mom just couldn't let that happen, and wanted to know if there was any chance that Precious Daughter could maybe possibly have a shot at taking the second exam that she missed last week in order to have a chance at passing my course? Barring that, could she have me sign the drop form so that daughter wouldn't have a failing grade? She would hate to have poor Precious Daughter, who did so well at another institution before moving back here with mom who told her not to do that and to stay where she was since she's doing so well and she's very smart and can do the work, fail out. Problem is, mom can't find Precious Daughter who is supposed to be living with her and has supposedly been studying very very hard and doing her assignments (only one out of the 4 so far, actually, but who's counting?) yadda yadda.

I calmed down this poor, crying, hysterical woman and I get the sneaking suspicion that this has happened before.

For my own amusement, I said sure. If you can find her I'll let her take the second exam. I also told her that said exam was pretty damn tough and I wouldn't expect that a student who hasn't shown up to class to perform well. Mom said ok and went away. It gets better.

At 2:30 I get a call in the lab. Mom found Precious Daughter and dragged her to the psych department. I go downstairs to meet them and PD looks equal parts embarrassed, humiliated, and scared shitless. Inside, I am laughing at the absurdity. I get the sneaking suspicion (again) that mom has done this before. We sit down and have a chat, with mom opening the discussion like I do with my 7 year old:

"Daughter, you have a decision to make. Do you want to take up Professor Evil on his offer to sit for the test, or do you want to drop?"

Of course, she dropped.

I can't tell you, dear reader, how much I wanted to dispense some advice.

"Stop smothering her. Stop going through her stuff to find my syllabus so you can locate my class and office hours. Stop snooping through her coursework and maybe even emails to find her grades, due dates, drop dates, whatever. Stop fighting her battles for her. Stop making her life too fucking easy. Stop pressuring her to do college when she obviously doesn't want to. Stop paying for something she obviously doesn't give a shit about. Just, stop. You're not protecting her. You're setting her up for permanent failure. Let her fail now and get kicked out of school, it's the BEST thing you can do for her. She'll have to go to community college someday to earn her way back in, but at least then she'll be ready to do what she wants, not what you want."

"And you, you lazy ass, quit wasting your mom's money. I sure as hell know you're not here on your dime. Go to class, else come up with a justifiable medical reason why you can't attend, address it, then get your life straightened out. Quit staying out to smoke weed with your loser boyfriend or whatever it is you're doing. The local garage band scene here in amongst the cornstalks cannot possibly be that entertaining. Quit living at home with an overbearing control-freak parent. You're like a couple of codependents enabling each other; you stay there and you'll never get her out of your life. It already sucks for you that you're probably going to flunk out and have to get some shit job until you earn enough money to move out."

Of course I can't say any of that. And so I wouldn't be surprised to see her sign up for my class next semester.

I don't know who is more pathetic, all that I know is I'm amused. And that neither of them is ready for college.


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What is the daughter is clinically depressed or otherwise suffering something? She sounds like me and the circumstances that meant I didn't finish college. (But I'm trying again now)

No indication that she has any mental issues. I think it likely she's just immature, been babied her whole life, and just doesn't give a damn. Nothing a dead-end fast food job won't cure in 3 years.

Well put. My first brush with college started when I was 17 and I definitely was not ready for the experience.

My second brush in my early 30's went much better.

My... my... oh my. It would have never occurred to me to get so involved in my daughters' college lives. I didn't even get that involved in their HS lives.

My youngest is 28, so maybe it's a generational thing... but, why? Why should mothers of children 10 years younger than mine expect more or less of their children than I did of mine?

I. Don't. Get. It.

I worked at a college a couple years back, and this type of thing happened often. Part of my job was academic counseling for students doing poorly, or not sufficiently well enough for particular high GPA requirement majors.

I received emails that were to students, from parents on many occasions over the years. I received phone replies, not from students--but from their parents on many occasions. Although this was not the norm, it did happen on a regular basis--I think the "helicopter parents and learned fragility" concepts were becoming popular at that time, and I certainly saw that first hand--as did many professors.

I was sorely disappointed at the quality of student effort in this college--which was supposedly discriminating with students with high SAT's and the like. Many parents basically presented the argument that it was everyone else's fault that their student had discipline only for socializing/cellphones/video games and almost none for study. Sadly, I saw on many occasions rules being bent for prestigious parents--who interceded for their child--certainly this was not the meritocracy I would hope for in Academia, nor is it helpful to the development of individuation and adult like behavior.

College is an expectation, and considered a right--or at least a right of passage for most in middle to higher SES families...some students come prepared and work hard, many do not--this is not entirely new, but Academia has become much more a business and 5 year entertainment center, buying into the consumption model of education.

I firmly believe you can't buy and education, you can only earn it and maintain learning by continued learning after schooling. But conspicious consumption also clearly falls into Higher Ed, where perception of knowledge or prestige of an institution trumps reality at times.

you're a judgemental shit.

Careful, Evil, sounds like you are skating a FERPA line here. Without a signed exemption form, we can't even confirm for a parent whether her child is in our classes, much less discuss issues of grades, tests, and the like.

I agree with you that there are far too many students in the colleges who are there for the wrong reasons. At the same time, a mother like that can be extremely difficult to get away from. My mother was like that, and even into adulthood, she had to know where I was every minute of every day, and did everything she could in order to prevent me from moving out on my own. When I finally did move out, she tracked me down and bombarded me with letters and about half a dozen phone calls a day. I had to keep the phone unplugged because of her incessant calls. She also bombarded my landlady with letters and phone calls. In fact, she would contact any institution and anybody who she knew me to have contact with, and that included both the college I was attending and my professors. I think that this girl's mother would also become a stalker if her daughter left. Maybe the stress of trying to get out of this situation is why she wasn't doing well in class.

Things like this don't surprise me (but I don't work at a college so it isn't something I have to deal with, to be fair).

I agree very much that there are a lot of people going to college who probably shouldn't, at least not at the age they are. If you aren't going to do your course work then you might as well just do something else. Save yourself some time and money.

After highschool I already knew I wouldn't handle university because I too am quite immature and lazy (I also had insomnia and depression which I am now free of). Instead I cut my living expenses as much as possible, borrowed some money and spent loads of time just studying random subjects over the internet and trying to figure out what the hell I should do, because I had no idea.

A couple years later and now I know exactly what to do. Now I know I have an interest and a knack for foreign currency exchange trading. My plan is to collect data on the returns for a very small amount of money I'll be trading, and then show it to either an institution or a private lender so I can upsize my operation.

If I hadn't spent time poor, broke and trying to figure myself out I'm not sure what would have happened, but in the long run it might have been far worse. Being penniless for a couple years gave me the motivation to learn a subject, which I am about to use to start what could be a very successful profession.

If I become successful, I will partly attribute it to spending time penniless and broke during the 2009 recession. I'll also advise parents to let their kid experience that, and they'll feel like learning a subject pretty fast.