Sometimes, it takes a village.
This is a photo I snapped of the moment after my mom saw her first grandchild in his college graduation regalia. His commencement ceremony isn’t until the spring, but he tried on his cap and gown for her.
Aside from being a sweet little moment, there’s a backstory that may help other students going through tough times and seriously considering dropping out of college.
Remember your support system. Remember that there are people who are proud of you and believe in you. My oldest son was burned out on school, ready to be done. And one time, he very nearly quit.
Of course, I tried to persuade him not to. He had a full-tuition scholarship and a B average. But his mind was made up. Plus he had already been in contact with a Navy recruiter, had aced the entrance test, and even though he had finished three-years of his undergraduate degree at the time, he was determined to leave school.
Nothing I said (nor threatened) was working. Previously, he mentioned an interest in a major called Integrated Studies which would combine his previous Mass Communications major with his current Music major, but doing that would almost definitely add an extra year of college. And he was already tired of the whole college thing as it was. Worse, his renewable scholarships would run out before he could finish with a major like that. He had three other siblings in college at the same time, so money was already tight. Plus having three different majors over the course of his undergraduate education seemed absurd to him.
So he truly just wanted to hang it all up, drop out, and take a break to see the world. Maybe he would continue his studies after enlisting. Although I love our military, I hated this plan.
I wanted him to finish college first then do whatever he wanted to. I said we would find the money for an extra year if he needed it, and begged him to continue, but he remained steadfast. He said he was done.
After hours of no progress in the conversation, in utter resignation and defeat, I leaned my head back against my chair, and quietly said, “That’s it. I can’t handle this. I’m calling my mother.”
He responded immediately saying, “No! Why would you do that?”
I was perplexed. I hadn’t said it to be a threat, nor as a persuasive tactic. Quite frankly, his plan to drop out was simply more than I could deal with. I didn’t know what to do, which clearly meant I needed my mom.
Then to my utter astonishment he responded, “Okay, wait. Why don’t I meet with my advisor to see if I could do Integrated Studies with Music and Mass Comm. and still graduate on time? I can deal with two more semesters of college. You don’t need to call Grandma.”
So he stayed in college, and even though graduating with an Integrated Studies degree with Mass Communications and Music major concentrations took him three more semesters, (nine semesters in total) he got his bachelor’s degree on December 16, 2020.
Under the circumstances, we are all okay with the fact that it took extra time. Plus I never did have to call Grandma. Eventually, we told her this story, and she couldn’t believe he cared so much about what she would say about him leaving school. She said she really had no idea she was that important to him.
Remember that your village is composed of people who believe in you, who are rooting for you. They are people who love you, and you may need their support when things get tough. Frankly, while getting through college, (and paying for it) times most likely will get tough at some point.
Support comes in many forms, and it’s always valuable. Sometimes it’s providing cash when you really need it. Other times, it’s encouragement. Occasionally, it’s helping provide structure. And sometimes, it’s having high expectations or just not wanting to risk disappointing your grandma.
My son wouldn’t be where he is today without his village. That’s just the reality. He’s not alone. Most successful people can look back and identify teachers, friends, parents, relatives, coaches, or an employer who supported them with encouragement, examples, and motivation on their educational journey.
Leverage those contacts, and let the people who have been instrumental to your success know the pivotal role they may have unknowingly played.
My son didn’t get here alone. He had help. He knows it, and he’s grateful for it.
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