Deans of students at colleges across the country often meet with first-year college students who are having difficulty with their college experience in the first few weeks of school. Some are in academic difficulty: low grades, sleeping through classes, missing important tests. Sometimes the problems are emotional: not making friends, drinking infractions, cutting or self-harm.
By the time these students are in the dean’s office, they are usually facing a tough decision, to drop out mid semester or suffer though the semester to try to salvage some credit hours. Some have already been sent home, often with conditions for return that make that return even less likely.
These situations are not surprising to deans of students, nor should they be surprising to others. Problems with first-year students do not just appear out of the blue. Usually these same students have had difficulty with immaturity, meeting obligations, and taking care and responsibility for themselves throughout high school.
Was it a good idea for these students to go off to college? The answer may be an obvious no, but what is the alternative for students who are not yet ready for college?
Sometimes it’s necessary for 18-year-olds to have a year or two to mature. College will still be there, older students apply and get into college, and there are admission deferrals. In the meantime, high school graduates might find it helpful to work, to join the service, to take a gap year to travel or volunteer. Some students may benefit from taking part-time work, living at home, and taking a couple courses at local community colleges for both credit and for the experience.
Sending students off to college who may have been accepted but are not ready is not only expensive but also such a negative experience it impedes their life progress.