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I lived in residence for six years, and I've lectured at three universities. I absolutely agree that there are a lot of students wasting their own time and other people's money in universities across North America. However....
You need to be careful drawing a causal relationship between getting a free ride and increased incidence of crapping out at school though. Many of those parents remortgaging their house and working an extra job to send their kid to school have pushed, or at least enabled, their child to seek a university education when they are just not prepared to work at getting a degree.
The problem isn't generally the free ride, it's usually the lack of motivation and direction. An academically gifted and motivated undergrad will not be ruined by a funded education. An academically weak, unmotivated and immature undergrad however, is in the position to really make a mess when somebody is dumb enough to remortgage their house and send them off to a pricey private school.
The same thing with working part time while you go to school. Part time work may help kids to develop better time management skills to some extent, but most definitely, the relationship between grades and holding a part time job is not purely causal. The kind of kids who are motivated to work part time to make their university education possible are the kinds of kids who want to be there. They are the kind of kids who make things happen. Forcing a particular student to get a job when they are flunking out will not result in that student suddenly finding the drive they need to get off of academic probation.
In Canada, summer jobs are the norm though. I was really surprised when I started meeting American students who were 20, 22, or even 25 and had never held a summer job.
My only point really, is that parents be willing to take their kids on a case by case basis :
1. Parents need to NOT pay for kids to go to university if they really aren't ready to be there. Maybe pay for part time studies at a local college if you have your doubts and your kid really wants to go... but parents need to wake up to the fact that paying for a university degree does not mean that your kid will have the capacity to actually earn one. Just because the university let your kid in, and just because you can pay the fees, does not mean your kid will put in the work. I know after the first six lectures who is going to crap out in my class! I have no idea how it can be a complete surprise to parents when their kid crashes and burns in university.
2. It is very reasonable to expect contributions from your child, but recognize that it is not possible to be top of your class and hold down part time employment in every discipline. I know a lot of overachievers, and many of them were very fortunate to have the opportunity to focus 100% on their studies. It isn't always possible, but be open to the fact that sometimes not having a part time job may mean that a student has the time to put in the extra work necessary to be top of their class in a difficult program, do all the extra reading, or take a research position with lousy pay and that only lasts nine weeks because it will look great on their application to grad school and help them make valuable connections in their field.
mama to two amazing children son 10/27/07 and daughter 07/07/11
The ideal is probably for their fledgling to hop out of the nest and take a gap year (or three) with NO financial assistance from parents, and figure out what they want to do (college, trade school, none of the above). There are trades which pay better (and cost less) than many college degrees. We have a family friend who is a cabinet-maker (fine woodworking). He says the demand is tremendous for a quality cabinet-maker -- but very few young people going into the field. He makes very good money with his work.
If one of my kids doesn't seem ready for college, upon graduation, then we'll encourage her to consider a gap year (or two) - I might ask that she take a year of community college for the finance courses etc. I think beyond career/trade, there are benefits of time on a college campus in terms of learning to think critically, etc., the social atmosphere (exposure to so many different people), etc. I'd like them to have some exposure to that.
Jen, former attorney and now SAHM to 11 yo ds and 8 yo ds
I will not burden dd with that at 18 or 19 years of age. We will give her every economic advantage we can provide her.
Lisa married to B WAHM to C (08.09)
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