Dear Barb—The Failing Grade

Dear Barb:

Hi, I am just finishing my first year of university and I didn’t do well.  I am failing most of my courses and I don’t think school is for me.  The problem is my parents made such a big deal about me going to university, since I was the only one of three kids who wanted to pursue post-secondary education.  They paid for everything and I feel really bad that they spent all that money for nothing.  I haven’t told them how I feel yet; they think I’m doing great.  I’m not sure if I should try to go for another year and hope things get better and not tell them how bad I am doing, or should I be truthful and tell them school is not for me.  Help, Jonathan.

Hey Jonathan:

Many young people follow the group and go on to university because their friends are going without seriously considering whether University is for them.  Then, like you, they realize part way through their first year they made a mistake.  You are entitled to make a mistake, but before you make another decision make sure it is the right one for you.  I sense a bit of hesitation in your letter, as you are contemplating going for another year before you drop out.  If you decide to attend university for another year and you are not sure this is what you want, you may just be adding more expenses for your parents.  Twenty-six percent of university students end up dropping out.  Plus, if you haven’t passed your courses this year, you may end up with an additional year of failed credits.

Before you tell your parents, you need to have an alternate plan.  For example you may be going to work full time, or maybe try attending college.  You can get a college degree in a much shorter time than a university degree and also obtain a successful career.  Do you have any idea what career you would like to pursue? Possibly you need a year off to consider what you want to do.  Your parents will be more receptive to you giving up university if you have an alternate plan.  This will show them that you have given this serious thought and it’s not just a whim.  They may not readily accept your decision and may be angry or disappointed that you are not following through on your original plan, but try not to overreact and also become angry.  Be the cool head.  Show them that you are confident in your decision, whatever that may be.  Ultimately it is your life and you need to do what feels right for you.  Once your parents see that you are confident in your chosen path, I’m sure they will accept your decision, as parents just want their children to be happy.  Good luck, Jonathan.