Sitting on the edge of her dorm room bed, Carly pondered her next steps.  She yearned for a “restart” button that would send her back to the very first day of class, when she had started out with high aspirations. With only two weeks left, not only was her first year of college almost over but her ambitions to become a nurse were also finished.  Unless she found a school that would accept her dismal transcript, she was likely done with college all together.
How had it all gone so wrong in just her first year?   Her heart pounded rapidly as anxiety once again threatened to choke her heart.  And how could she tell her parents about the letter from the registrar?  Her influential father had paved the way for her, convincing the admissions officer that Carly’s high school transcript really did not reflect the student she would be in college. Carly has promised her parents that she would rise up and work hard, that paying for her college tuition would not be a waste. She crumpled up the letter, and threw it across the room at the pile of dirty clothes littering the floor.
Not invited back! How fair was that?
Didn’t they understand that she, as a freshman, needed time to adjust – time to get used to the expectations and pressure of college? No one seemed to care enough to hold her accountable. Sure, she got morning wake up calls from her mom, but after a brief exchange of words, she habitually rolled over and went back to sleep, too exhausted from the night before. Besides, the professors made no issue of her absences anyway.
She looked down at her red blackberry, a constant companion, wondering how many texts she had missed in the past hour.  With the regrets of the past year whirling around in her mind, the bright light, indicating she had messages to read, actually nauseated her. Life at college was full of continual distractions which pulled at her, luring her away from what she should be doing.
At least she had passed American Literature – the cliff notes had greatly reduced her workload and finding the internet essays made the class manageable.  But Chemistry – she had not even bothered to take the final in December.  Better to not try than face the grade she would likely have received on the exam.
The spring semester never really got off the ground.  Enrolled in her least favorite subjects, Carly found the Western Civilization professor boring and mathematics professor too difficult to follow with his heavy accent.  At least it felt that way at 9 AM, when she did manage to get up for class.
Picking up her vibrating phone, she read a text invitation to join her friends for a late night movie.  She stuffed the credit card her parents gave her into the pocket of her jeans, and slipped out the door.  She would get back to figuring out her dilemma tomorrow.  The tight feeling in her chest lifted. For now, she could put off thinking about her problems by having fun with her friends.
Many young men and women, like Carly, enter college each fall. They start out their year with high hopes, buoyed by the accolades of their peers and family. All too quickly however they find themselves overwhelmed and struggling to meet the demands.  Like Carly, many know what they should do, yet find themselves overwhelmed by the pressures and challenges of life beyond home.  Because vital character and spiritual qualities are not sufficiently developed within to meet the daily challenges, or the influencing social pressures, and all too soon they give up on themselves and give in to peers. They are accustomed to active, busy schedules yet entirely unaccustomed to overcoming challenges. They know a little about a whole lot (surfing the internet keeps them current) yet do not deeply comprehend much about anything.  They bounce around in a veneer form of activity, feeding their minds with a constant diet of noise and stimulation.  Considered very “tech savvy”, they are shockingly short on problem solving and sense making.  By year end, they join the growing numbers of students who drop out of school because it simply did not work for them.
What happened to Carly, who at age eight appeared ready to take on the world?
In the next few blogs, we will explore this question and and discuss tips on how you can equip your kids so that they take a higher road than Carly.