Drawing up a contract for college tuition
My eldest has one year left at high school. He is bright kid but a true underachiever in school. Given the experience of some of my friends who have kids already in college, I am considering drawing up a contract for our child which states that we, his parents, will pay his college tuition as long as certain parameters are met. It might be worded as a Rubric (I'm a teacher) because he's used to Rubrics. Has anyone here tried this? Any suggestions?
Is your primary goal with the contract to establish clear boundaries/expectations (i.e. "Don't be surprised that we stop paying if these criteria aren't met"), or to try to encourage/motivate him to meet the parameters?
I think the former could make a lot of sense (if you are wanting to have an "out" for withdrawing funding in certain cases), but I'd just caution you (as a former "bright kid" who rather spectacularly underachieved in high school & college due to a combo of ADHD & anxiety) that this kind of contract isn't necessarily going to serve as sufficient/successful motivation for success in and of itself (depending on the cause(s) of his underachievement, which may be complex). Just checking in on your own expectations here :)
Instead of university, would there be a direct line he could take? If he's interested in computer science, and you know humanities could be a waste of time, it may help if he takes some "workshops" or attends an online computer school. If he excels in those courses and sees the need for a four-year degree to truly pursue his passion, that may be the carrot he needs to focus academically. If he stays at home to start, I would make sure he has a job at a local computer store, or similar technical job, and contributes to the household to keep you from going mental and wanting to kick him out! 😂
Is he actually ready?
High school, especially at the rat race that we currently run it as, is absolutely exhausting to many students. By the time they finish grade 12, they are pretty burned out.
I’m all for parameters on tuition payments, because in reality FERPA means that he is responsible for the tuition. As far as the university is concerned, you are just giving him some money to meet his obligation to the school, and I think it’s entirely reasonable to specify under what conditions that money will be given
But in my now going on 12 years in higher Ed, I have encountered a lot of students, almost all male, who simply were not mentally ready for undergrad. They wind up wasting everyone’s time and money, to say nothing of losing their self-esteem, and most of that is due to the fact that they probably just needed to take a gap year or three.
If you think it is so likely that he might be unmotivated to succeed right now, please remember that undergrad will wait. There’s no hurry. We professors will be just as happy to see him at 26 as we will at 18.
I love the idea of the contract for, as Resistant pointed out, the right reasons. I was a classic example of what WordTenor describes. I bombed out of 3 colleges mostly because I simply didn't have the maturity level that undergrad requires. All that boring sustained effort and grinding need for patience in the face of so little internal structure and external keg parties 4 nights a week. I like so many entered the job force checking the "Some College" box under education on the application. But I made my way and I finished a finance degree on my own dime in my early 40's with a 3.8GPA. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
I like the idea of this contract to set your expectations and make it clear to him under what terms you are willing to pay for his college.
I also like the ideas of those who contributed here. I have a son who struggled up to high school (academically) and now in High School he has a GPA of 3.3 (not honour roll but better than before). He is smart but just doesn't care about doing better than a B. He actually aims for that and no more. However he is still very immature in his behavior and mentality towards people and adults. He will be 16 when he graduates from high school (this is a common age here in Belize) but my husband wants him to go study outside the country (what he is interested in isn't taught here) but I am just scared that he will not be ready for that, going to school and living on his own and it's really expensive, I don't want to waste my money and damage my son's self-esteem. However, 16 year olds get paid minimum wage and couldn't get an decent jobs so that in itself is very demeaning. (I was hired to pack toilet paper at a factory when I was 17th and going school and I thought it was insulting because I was "too smart for that" lol).
we don't take gap years here. if you stop you don't normally end up going back till your in your 30s (I still haven't gone back - i guess this contributes to my fears that if he takes a "break" he will not continue.
Hard decisions that we have to make as parents but all this info is good food for thought.
He doesn’t sound ready. I dropped out of university education and worked for a few years. When I went back (on my own terms, not my parents) I worked two jobs all through, paid most of my own way, and got a First Class Honours degree. Not bad for an underachieving drop out :)
My motivation was partly it was my choices, and partly I understood what low pay work really means, and I didn’t like it!
Wow, this is a tough and personal issue. Great job for being able to support him with tuition. My wife and I are taking the approach right now of this: we can help $x much and that's it and it can go for college tuition, trade school, business start up costs, or down payment on house, and ok or a wedding. But, it's still $x much, that's it. There are no refunds or redo's. If the lawn fertilizing equipment business doesn't sprout, then it doesn't and there isn't a second go around at least with our help. I'll let you know how it all goes in about 4-6 years.
We decided to not create a contract with our college student. He started college 6 months ago. He is now in his second semester of his first year college and is motivated to get good grades all on his own because he wants to transfer to a larger, more competitive university nearby that he couldn't get into last year because his high school grades in some subjects were too low. So he's busting his rear end to get straight As, or at least Bs, so he can move to the university he wants to go to. His current university is a good fit for him but the other university has a larger computer science program and more internship/work opportunities and he wants those opportunities so he's doing the work. Thanks to all who responded for your advice.