Dear Barb – The Trouble with Great Expectations

Dear Barb:

I am in my late twenties and work full time while taking courses through AU. My parents always had high expectations for us and we all strived to meet those expectations. Throughout high school I was easily able to maintain marks in the high eighties and nineties, so my parents are expecting me to be able to maintain the same marks in university. Since they are helping to pay my tuition I feel obligated to try to meet their expectations. I was shocked when I received my some of my marks back. For the most part I am getting high sixties and low seventies. My parents are very disappointed and I feel I have let them down. I am trying my best, but with my job and other issues going on in my life, I just can’t seem to do any better. I am feeling so stressed out and anxious every time I do an exam, or write a paper and it is affecting my ability to concentrate. When my parents ask me why my marks are so low I make up an excuse, and reassure them that I will try harder. This is bothering me so much that I am thinking about dropping out of school and working at Wal-Mart for the rest of my life. Do you have any advice for me, or should I just give up my hopes for higher education? Help, Kelly.

Hi Kelly:

Thanks so much for writing in, I’m sure many students can identify with your situation. It’s very common for students’ marks to initially drop when they begin university. High school and university are not comparable. You are in a different place in your life, as you say, you are working full time plus dealing with all the issues of relationships, finances, and other things that are required of adults. When you were in high school, your focus was much more limited, basically school and social life, not to say that high school students don’t have issues to deal with but Mom and Dad are there to lean on. You are fortunate that your parents are helping you with tuition, at least that takes some of the financial stress off you. I think you need to talk to your parents about how you are feeling and reassure them that you are trying your best. Also I would suggest you check out the following AU website for resources to assist students with all aspects of University life including life, health, family, money and work:

You may also need to upgrade your study skills for University, as it has been a long time since you were in high school. In the long run, education is never a waste of time.

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Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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