As young adults head home for the December holiday soon, many will be having the tough conversation they are dreading more than ever. The conversation of telling their parents they failed their first semester of college. I’m already hearing about these situations from parents who are getting the calls, almost prepping the fall before actually arriving home to avoid the face-to-face conversation. There are many reasons this happens and can have long-term consequences if not dealt with directly.
1. Wrong Major
75-85% of students will change their majors in the first year. With a failed semester, more often than not, the young adult is in over their head with their courses because they have selected a major that doesn’t match their strengths. I’ve had parents of clients tell me stories of their first semester and struggling before changing majors to one that aligned with their natural gifts. I tell my story of being a physical therapy major and almost going home my first semester because biology about did me in, as I had selected the wrong major.
The first semester is the hardest in my professional opinion out of all of them because young adults are not only attending college classes, their entire life has changed. They have left friends, are on their own for the first time, live in a 15x15 space with a stranger or a friend who becomes intimately familiar with every aspect of their private lives, and lastly, are required to adjust to their new “norm.”
Wrong majors can make a person doubt their ability to attend college. The self-doubt and disappointment are overwhelming when really they just are in the wrong major.
2. Wrong University
As parents, we know our children better than they know themselves. But for some reason when it comes to deciding on a university, when we look back we can see there was a big miss in the decision on which place our young adult would thrive. I’m hearing stories of “I hate my university because it’s not what I expected it to be” to “I have nothing in common with these students…they party, etc. and I’m not happy.” Or they’ve selected a university so far from home they just can’t stand the distance.
I’m seeing a trend of students choosing universities they’ve never set foot on. With the Common Applications, a dart was thrown to schools that sounded good at the moment. When accepted, they got more caught up in being chosen than really evaluating if this was THE right university for them and digging deep to determine if they would succeed. Now with a low GPA that will be a struggle to bring up and money down the drain, the process must begin all over again to find a university who will accept the lower than expected transcript.
3. Wrong Learning Environment
There are many young adults who need a very specific learning environment. Whether it’s a small university so they feel accountable or one that provides more hands on instead of 100% lecture. Are they visual or auditory learners? Do they struggle to stay focused and are easily distracted? High school is nothing like college and for many young adults, they are just not prepared. They didn’t really feel they needed to study in high school and now don’t have the tools to be an independent learner to succeed.
High schools insist they are preparing young adults for college courses and colleges don’t necessarily agree. Learning to self-advocate, ask for help when you are in over your head, realize when you need a tutor before it’s too late and knowing when to drop classes before it permanently affects your transcript are all things that come with learning to know when to ask for help.
But all is not lost. When a young person comes home defeated and when parents need to decide what’s next, there is no better time to stop, take a breath, regroup and “assess” the young adult. Assessments will help identify the best educational environment, how they process information and ultimately career paths which are ideal for how their brain naturally works. My hope is they invest, financially and emotionally, in the process of career exploration so they don’t go down a career path they regret years from now. Everyone is “smart.” Everyone has strengths. Everyone has a path that is ideal for them…they just need a little help to process the situation, find a career that makes sense for them so the semester does not define them. Reeder Consulting is committed to helping them know themselves so they “Proceed with Confidence” moving forward. It’s my passion and promise to them!