Ask Amy: College student’s attitude saddens mom

September 15, 2012

DEAR AMY: I am saddened by my daughter’s ongoing disappointment because we could not afford to send her to her dream college. Instead, we are paying for her education at half the price (but still over $26,000 a year) at an in-state school.

Everyone from school counselors to neighbors tells you about financial aid and all the scholarships out there. The truth is that going to college is extremely expensive. Of course student loans are available, but I do not believe in saddling my child with debt that would take 10 to 20 years to pay off.

The problem is that my usually happy, intelligent daughter continues to complain about the school environment. She wanted a small school where professors know their students by name, not as a number. She is a good student but finds all the partying at this particular school distracting.

To be honest, I think she is determined not to like this school. I have been saving since her birth to send her to school without a mountain of debt, but now that I have achieved this, I feel sad that she doesn’t appreciate it.

Is there anything I can say or do to help this situation? Should I let her transfer to a different school and let her take out a hefty student loan to pay for it even though it is against all my notions of good sense? -- Sad Mom

DEAR MOM: Your daughter needs to learn a lesson tougher than any course she will take in college: that she is responsible for her own success and happiness, now and beyond.

If this school is not a good fit for her, she should look into transferring. In the course of researching other schools, she will also have to explore how to finance her education, beyond the generous annual stipend from you.

I highly recommend the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges,” by Loren Pope (2006, Penguin Books). This lovely book will show you and your daughter that there is a potential great fit for every potentially great student. Send the book to her at school along with a note encouraging her to take responsibility for her situation.

DEAR AMY: Last week I was invited to my son and daughter-in-law’s house. There were four couples there, along with their kids.

I was seated on the patio with some of the guests while my son and his wife were scurrying around getting food and drinks. When the last couple arrived, the husband introduced himself and his wife to the other couples and ignored me completely, as though the chair I was sitting in were empty.

I was horrified at his lack of manners. After he was seated, I turned to him laughing and said, “Hello, I’m the host’s mother; am I invisible?” He apologized and, as the evening advanced, I discovered his line of work. He was a minister!

You might remind all the young people who read your column that when they encounter an old person, they should treat that person as they would like to be treated when they reach that age. (“Do unto others,” etc.) -- Not Invisible

DEAR NOT INVISIBLE: Your letter touched me because my mother often remarked on one of the least recognized side effects of aging: invisibility.

The downsides of wearing a cloak of invisibility are obvious. On the other hand, you have a superpower. I vote that you should be the newest member of the Avengers. And everybody else should take heed: Nobody puts Granny in a corner!

DEAR AMY: Your response to “Anxious Wife” was not nearly strong enough. A mother’s first duty is to protect her child. This father’s bullying is abusive. She should leave him immediately. -- Upset Reader

DEAR UPSET: I maintain that with professional help this family could heal, but I agree with you that if not, she should leave.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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