January 29, 2011

Thinking Ahead About Schools

Just another post on schools and schooling options!  You'd think I would be tired of writing about schooling, but then hey -- I was a home schooling Mom for almost seven years.  The schooling/curriculum/option thing doesn't go away when your child graduates from high school, LOL!  It probably should, and I would guess that for some parents, it does.  It would depend on what the graduate does, whether they attend a community college or go to a four-year University.  My son is at the community college, and as of yet, has not made up his mind on his major emphasis.  Although I know he will eventually decide on music, the choice of whether it will be Music or some electronic music variation is unknown.

I also think I am simply not willing to let him go on his own just yet.  He is young, only 17, and lacks direction.  I know that I am not 100% responsible for directing him, but in some ways, I still have pull, so to speak.  You see, some parents let go of their teens in high school, preferring to let them err and fall -- believing that these life lessons will shape them into responsible adults.  This does happen sometimes, but more often than not, the teen just flounders and ends up repeating behaviors until they find themselves out of school, and out of options.  The parents toss up their hands and say "Oh well, it was his/her choice, and they made it." 

I am of the opinion that until a child reaches maturity, they NEED their parents to help them make decisions. This is how God parents us, and thank His goodness for it.  His Word teaches us that the Shepherd oversees the flock at all times, never letting them wander too far away.  Paul tells us that until we are mature Christians, we need to be discipled in how to live worthy lives.  We are never given the "keys to the Kingdom" and then told "now, go have at it!"  No, not at all.  Instead, we are encouraged to stay in study of the Word, to remain close to mentors and leaders for discipleship, and take daily consistent steps of faith.

As Parents, our children need to be raised to maturity, and that doesn't happen when the hormones kick in.  Most teens are not mature enough to decide what kinds of clothing to wear or which boy or girl to befriend.  They can hardly be trusted to make an important life decision like where to go to college, especially when that choice could incur $100k or more of debt.  Parents need to actively take part in this process, and whether the school likes it or not (most don't want the parents involved except to pay the check each term), they are still responsible for their child's well-being and welfare until they are mature.

I have taken the stance that until my son turns 21, he is my full responsibility.  Yes, he has some share in that load, and as he gets older, that share will increase.  He is now at the community college, and he is responsible for his courses, homework, and grades.  I cannot do this for him, but he is not ready to be let loose to decide what he wants to do for his life's work.

He has a friend whose parents did this at age 15.  They tossed their hands up, frustrated at some of the choices their son made, and now have an adult child living at home who has absolutely no direction to go.  He works, yes; but as far as long-term goals and plans for his future -- he has nothing on tap.  I also know a family (longtime family friends of my parents), whose son has allowed his grown children to remain at home and live there without any source of employment.  The boys say they cannot find work so they stay at home playing video games.  The father is working two jobs to support the family, and his sons are living off of their Dad's hard work.  It is not fair, and these boys are lazy, fat, and believe they are entitled to remain at home forever.

My son is not this way, thank the Lord; but I want to make certain that he understands that the choices he makes today, will impact his life down the road.  He knows this, at least I think he does (well, he should because I have used it as my "mantra" over the years).  Still, he is at that point where it would be a serious error on my part to let him fly alone.  He is not ready yet.  He needs to double for awhile; he still needs his co-pilot along side of him.

So with this in mind, I am still looking at colleges for him.  Yes, I said it -- I am looking at colleges.  Many teens do their own looking, and some know right away where they want to go.  My son has never expressed any interest in schools, so I have had to do the looking.  I don't make the decision, of course.  I just look at the schools, check the financials and such, and then suggest it as a possible option.  He has to actually consider it, and then decide if it is a good choice.  I was the same way when I was his age.  I looked at some schools, but I had little help from my parents.  My parents let me do all the work, and truthfully, I was ill-equipped to handle that responsiblity.  I wasn't even ready to graduate -- really!  I didn't know what I wanted to study (other than art), and I was not even in the mindset of being a college student.  I wasn't looking forward to college, and I wasn't interested in doing anything much at all.  I would have appreciated my parents saying to me, "Carol, you need to go to the community college for two years."  I ended up there anyway, and had I asked them directly, this is what they would have said to me.  But they didn't say anything, and the left the choice up to me.  I floundered, and finally in tears, made the choice to go the CC route.

My son needs to make up his mind on a major, and I have given him until this Spring to do so.  There is no point in spending several semesters figuring this out.  You either know it or you don't and if you don't well -- then you need to do some deep soul-searching time and really be honest with yourself.  My son is a musician through-and-through and there is no getting around it.  He is at his best when he is up on stage performing with other musicians.  He loves music, he writes interesting arrangements in music, and he generally thinks music all the time.  The problem that he has is this -- he is highly distracted by other things, namely his involvement in gaming clubs.  He has left his game-playing behind, and now is an administrator on a game server.  He spends every waking hour talking online, making system changes to the games, giving permissions, etc.  He is a server administrator, which is fine -- if that is what he really wants to do for the rest of his life.  He can make good money at it, for certain -- but when I ask him if this is what he wants to do, he says no.  Yet, this is what he does all day when he is not in class.

I see his skill, and I see his gift -- but he is not using it right now.  He is bored, and when I asked him what he thought about college so far, he shrugged his shoulders and said it was "OK."  I knew this would happen, I just knew it.  He was so looking forward to college, and after he got in, he was excited about taking classes.  Now that he is in them, he is seeing that the teachers dumb them down, telling students that they don't have to even read the textbook, that they can do "open book" tests, and such.  This is not a good thing to tell a highly gifted student -- because my student will say "sweet, I can coast and not learn anything new."

Therefore, this parent is stepping in to provide some more direction and to suggest perhaps a more suitable school for music study.  My son is special and has special needs.  He is not your typical performance driven pianist.  He has deep ideas about composition and theory, but he is not deeply invested in performing Sonata after Sonata.  He would rather explore music, and develop a keen interest in those aspects that challenge him most.  I have to find a school that offers this type of music program.  Not all do that, and most are performance based.  But there is one that is very liberal in it's design and that is where I think he should go for college.

Yale University has a Humanities-type liberal arts focus, and this means that as Music majors you are not singled out for music only study.  Every study there is focused the same way, and students are given more control over their degree program.  This would benefit my son greatly, and would allow him to explore the areas of interest most challenging to him.  Of course, it is Yale, and that has it's own issues (Ivy-league, expensive, and competitive).  I am not sure if he can get accepted, let alone get the financial aid to go there.

Yet, something has led me to Yale, and I have read their website, studied their music department FAQ, and come around to the thought that Yale just might be of the Lord's choosing.  Hmmm...I am not sure, but there is something in my heart that says, "Let him go, Carol -- trust me!"  Yes, Lord!  If Yale is your choice for him, then so be it.  I will trust you, and I will let him go wherever you lead him.  Praise be to God -- He is Good and His Mercy endures forever.

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