When Your Freshman Drops Out. How to Think About Plan B

A month ago, my son decided to drop out of college and move back home. It was a sudden decision, made on the last day to drop classes, and time will tell if it was the right one.

When students drop out of college they have to decide on a new plan

Because it was his second semester of college and we expected him to be there for at least three more years, our family was taken by surprise. Instead of one down, three to go, it’s grown, flown, and back home. For now, we need to come up with some new goals and a plan for the future. And I’m already finding that my goals and the goals of my son are not exactly the same.

His main goal right now is to make money. We agree on this, at least. For the immediate future, until he can once again start taking classes, he needs to concentrate on working as hard as he can to make money. He’s found a full-time job at Lowe’s and a part-time job at the local movie theater.

[How to Get a Job: 6 Big Mistakes College Kids Make]

While having a job is always a good thing – it puts money in his pocket and keeps him busy – it can also work against us. It looks like a four-year degree is not in the cards for our son, at least for the foreseeable future. That’s fine with me – it’s not for everyone. But I do want him to at least take some classes at the local community college and work toward a two-year degree.

After three days of employment, our son’s decided that he wants to work at Lowe’s for the rest of his life. He feels he’ll move up to management quickly. There’s nothing wrong with working at Lowe’s, but I put it to him this way – if you work at Lowe’s for five years and decide to move on, what are you qualified to do? Work at Lowe’s. But with an Associate’s degree, you’re prepared for a lot more. Plus, if someone wants to move up at a company like Lowe’s, having a degree can only help.

[5 Steps to Get Your Teen on the Right Career Path Right Now]

Our son doesn’t want to go back to school. He wants to buy a car, pay off his student loans, move somewhere warm and buy a house. Excellent goals, but he may be getting ahead of himself, considering he hasn’t even received his first paycheck yet. I think we have him convinced to take a couple of classes this summer at the local community college. We told him that taking some business classes will teach him to budget his money and help him achieve his goals.

That helped to open his eyes. He didn’t want to take classes at all, until we explained it to him that way. It’s sort of like when he was a little kid and we used to trick him into doing something he didn’t want to do. After all these years, we still aren’t above trying to trick him.

There’s no reason he can’t work and take classes. That’s how many people do it, including his mom. I know how tempting a paycheck can be. I didn’t go to college right out of high school because I wanted to make money. I worked and had all the toys my friends in college didn’t, until they graduated and were suddenly making more money than I was. It’s always been important to me that my kids go to college instead of making the same mistakes I made.

We’ve found out that things often don’t turn out as planned. For now, our son will work and live at home. But my wife and I aren’t going to stop pushing him to take classes and get a degree. Someday, we believe, he’ll be glad he did.

Related: 

Our Son Withdrew From College and It’s the Best Choice

What Happened When My Son Transferred to a New College

About Gary Sprague

Gary Sprague is a freelance writer who lives in Maine with his wife and two sons. You can find him online at Twitter, Facebook and his blog, GarySpragueBooks.

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