Jump to content

Menu

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

My 18 year old is failing. He has dealt with anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities all of his life. He has been in and out of therapy, and dips into suicidal thinking on a regular basis. He has been homeschooled except for a brief 18 months at a charter school, and he is currently enrolled in our local community college dual credit program as a homeschooler. He is failing 2 of his 3 classes this semester, and the only thing he is feeling is apathy. His medication and therapy are keeping him from suicide, but he has not been able to muster the motivation to complete his work for this semester. He will definitely be on academic probation after this semester.

He has already been held back a year. He is very smart and has great people skills. Despite his learning disabilities, he is actually able to execute quality work when he is mentally and emotionally stable.  No one outside of our family realizes that he deals with these demons. He had been doing well with the Dual Credit program until the pandemic hit. Not being able to go in person has had serious implications for him. He also doesn't know what career he wants to pursue. Being directionless ends up feeding his anxiety, creating a vicious cycle.

I have been suggesting to him that perhaps he should take High School Equivalency courses at our community college next semester (and drop out of the dual credit program), and then take the GED and just be done with high school. At the pace he is going, his graduation date is getting pushed further and further back; he is further and further demoralized, and I just don't see a path forward for him through high school (home school, or school school).

We tried unschooling several years back, for about 18 months, and it plunged him into his first struggle with suicidal thoughts. He and I both know that he won't do anything I ask him to in a more traditional homeschool style either. He has no desire to attend the local high school or any other school, and frankly, he would be even farther behind if we enrolled him in a regular high school. He was planning on catching up and getting ahead somewhat by taking dual credit courses every summer, but he didn't accomplish that.

The plan forward, if he passes the GED, is for him to take a break from academics, get a job, pay us rent and living expenses, and put in volunteer hours. I would encourage him to menial job hop and to take courses at our community college that interest him (no more than one at a time), the idea being that he spends the next 2-3 years exploring the adult working world with the hope that by then, he'll have an idea what he wants to do (and therefore motivation), and we'll be past this pandemic, and he can return to community college full-time and then transfer to a university.

Is this a terrible plan? What are the cons?

Thanks for reading.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don’t think it’s necessarily a terrible plan, though I don’t know that I would advocate going immediately to requiring paying rent AND Community service. If he’s just 18 years old, getting his feet under himself working seems like an appropriate first step and then depending on his mental health, you could move forward from there.

I wondered though whether you’ve looked into any youth re-engagement programs through your local community colleges. The name varies depending on what state you’re in, but a lot of states have programs that allow kids in the 16 to 21-year-old age group to earn their high school diploma at a community college, and then offer various paths forward from there. This is an entirely different thing from dual enrollment. It would mean he would have up to three more years to complete the classes he needed to get his diploma. Which would allow him to take some mental health time off and then return and complete classes at a slower pace.

Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, kand said:

I don’t think it’s necessarily a terrible plan, though I don’t know that I would advocate going immediately to requiring paying rent AND Community service. If he’s just 18 years old, getting his feet under himself working seems like an appropriate first step and then depending on his mental health, you could move forward from there.

I wondered though whether you’ve looked into any youth re-engagement programs through your local community colleges. The name varies depending on what state you’re in, but a lot of states have programs that allow kids in the 16 to 21-year-old age group to earn their high school diploma at a community college, and then offer various paths forward from there. This is an entirely different thing from dual enrollment. It would mean he would have up to three more years to complete the classes he needed to get his diploma. Which would allow him to take some mental health time off and then return and complete classes at a slower pace.

Thanks, kand. That's a good point about both work and community service. I am actually thinking that he would start community service immediately and then spend the next month or so looking for work. We wouldn't expect rent immediately immediately, but there would be a a deadline within the year. The community service would get him out of his room and thinking about other people. He's very much in his own head all the time, and spends most hours on his bed in the dark and on his phone, numbing himself. Community service could happen right away, and he'd see areas of life he hasn't been exposed to for possible careers.

I just googled youth re-engagement programs. It doesn't look like our community college has anything like that. All they have is High School Equivalency courses and the Dual Credit program, which homeschoolers can take starting in 9th grade and as long as they need. I am actually fine with him going at a slower pace, but he is in a mental place where he just can't see himself finishing. Ever. I can sense the impossibility of it all from his standpoint. 

Since he can't seem to make himself do it since it seems so overwhelming, I don't know how much longer he can stay in the program. My understanding is he will be dropped after next semester when he fails those classes, too, which I anticipate happening. He hates school. There is no subject that he enjoys or can even seem to tough out just to get through. His response is to not do it and to not care. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite a few options. Our food bank is desperate for help. I've volunteered there myself since the pandemic and he's old enough. I've also seen hiring signs around town, particular at fast food restaurants and our grocery store because of all the curbside orders. He has a safety net job he could take at a sheet metal fabricator who would hire him in a heartbeat, though my son knows that he won't be exposed to new options there. He's also thinking about certifications for phlebotomy or things like that that he could try out in order to see the health care industry from the inside. I'm not really worried about that part. That part is the hopeful part on the other side. It's the long-term consequences of a GED, if there are any, that I'm worried about. What am I not foreseeing?

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

What does he still need to graduate from your homeschool? 

2 English, 2 Foreign Language, 3 Math, 2 Science, 3 Social Studies, 5 Electives, 1/2 PE

Total 17 1/2 credits 

Projected graduation was 2022. With F's this semester and (in all probability) next semester, that pushes it to 2023, if he sorts himself out by next summer, which is looking doubtful unless he takes a complete break from academics. Even then, I don't think he'd be ready to do school work. So, the best case (unlikely) scenario: he'd be 21 when he graduated high school. That thought depresses him more. He can't seem to get out of his hole and he just keeps digging deeper and deeper. The farther he gets behind, the more he kicks himself because he is capable, but he just can't motivate himself. This is even with very lenient professors during a pandemic!

Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Mom20ne said:

2 English, 2 Foreign Language, 3 Math, 2 Science, 3 Social Studies, 5 Electives, 1/2 PE

Total 17 1/2 credits 

Projected graduation was 2022. With F's this semester and (in all probability) next semester, that pushes it to 2023, if he sorts himself out by next summer, which is looking doubtful unless he takes a complete break from academics. Even then, I don't think he'd be ready to do school work. So, the best case (unlikely) scenario: he'd be 21 when he graduated high school. That thought depresses him more. He can't seem to get out of his hole and he just keeps digging deeper and deeper. The farther he gets behind, the more he kicks himself because he is capable, but he just can't motivate himself. This is even with very lenient professors during a pandemic!

What is the minimum required in your state for a diploma?  Not the recommended coursework for someone intending to pursue a college degree but the most basic coursework accepted for a diploma?  For example, is foreign language absolutely required?  What math must be completed?

Many high schools offer credit for work experience.  Could he do work experience next quarter or the next two quarters and then see how he feels about completing the bare minimum required for a high school diploma?  

I have two concerns about GED. One, it  looks like he is currently a sophomore who is behind in math.  He may find studying the material needed to pass the GED as difficult or even more difficult than completing basic high school level courses.   Two, yes, a GED could impact his future employment options.  For example, if he might want to join the military, he needs a high school diploma.  

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Holy Schmoley. I was going to suggest dropping your expectations & getting him through the minimum to just graduate him, but even dropping the electives, the PE, the foreign language, and a math credit, and a social studies credit, that's too much to gut through. I can see why he's not feeling very motivated--it seems like an unending list.

I wouldn't make him take classes while everything is still online. I don't know if a GED is the answer (and the tests are harder now in some states than they used to be), but I'd probably let him take a break from academics after this semester regardless of your decision on the GED.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Sherry in OH said:

What is the minimum required in your state for a diploma?  Not the recommended coursework for someone intending to pursue a college degree but the most basic coursework accepted for a diploma?  For example, is foreign language absolutely required?  What math must be completed?

Many high schools offer credit for work experience.  Could he do work experience next quarter or the next two quarters and then see how he feels about completing the bare minimum required for a high school diploma?  

I have two concerns about GED. One, it  looks like he is currently a sophomore who is behind in math.  He may find studying the material needed to pass the GED as difficult or even more difficult than completing basic high school level courses.   Two, yes, a GED could impact his future employment options.  For example, if he might want to join the military, he needs a high school diploma.  

 

 

The minimum requirements are 22 credits. His plan had been the 26 credit path, so going with the minimum would shave off only 4 credits.

Do you know of other employment options that would be limited? He doesn't have any interest in the military.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

Holy Schmoley. I was going to suggest dropping your expectations & getting him through the minimum to just graduate him, but even dropping the electives, the PE, the foreign language, and a math credit, and a social studies credit, that's too much to gut through. I can see why he's not feeling very motivated--it seems like an unending list.

I wouldn't make him take classes while everything is still online. I don't know if a GED is the answer (and the tests are harder now in some states than they used to be), but I'd probably let him take a break from academics after this semester regardless of your decision on the GED.

Yeah, I feel overwhelmed myself at the list. I just can't see how how he can get through a traditional course path by age 21, even with the minimum requirements. And I know he does not want to still be completing high school at 22+. He's already afraid that if he quits, he would never go back. Taking a break would probably turn into full-on dropping out of high school. The list of high school credits still needed would be hanging over his head like an ax and I don't know that he could ever face it. That's why I'm hoping a GED would at least get high school off his back, and he could feel "safe" to take a real break.

I really have a sense that if he can have a good long break from academics, he will mature and move in the direction of coping with his mental illness where he can survive and maybe even thrive. And then return to community college. As it is, going straight to university is off the table, much less the more competitive schools he wanted to attend.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you think he could pass the GED?

Is there any way you could give him credit for life stuff?  Could you work with him to knock out some credits in a hurry?  By "work with him," I mean actually sit with him and do the work in an interactive way.  

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Does your son's community college have guidance counselors?  A counselor could lay out his options for him.  

Some employers will be biased against a GED, some just want to see a check in the 'high school diploma or equivalent' box.  Your son needs to be aware that a GED instead of a diploma could affect hiring and promotional decisions, but not to the same extent as no diploma at all.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, EKS said:

Do you think he could pass the GED?

Is there any way you could give him credit for life stuff?  Could you work with him to knock out some credits in a hurry?  By "work with him," I mean actually sit with him and do the work in an interactive way.  

 

Yes, I think he could pass. It's not a lack of ability or intelligence. He definitely would do fine after the 8 week prep course at the community college. 

I can't in good conscience just make up a diploma for him for life stuff. And unfortunately, he doesn't work well with me. We have a good relationship, but he works well for a teacher in-person. Especially at 18, as a young man, he won't sit with me and let me work with him side by side. He only sees me as mom, even after years of homeschooling. BTDT We've been trying to actively address this since he was 10. Wish he did work with me well! He wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. 

Does the GED matter after you have earned college credit and gotten an associate's or bachelor's degree?

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Sherry in OH said:

Does your son's community college have guidance counselors?  A counselor could lay out his options for him.  

Some employers will be biased against a GED, some just want to see a check in the 'high school diploma or equivalent' box.  Your son needs to be aware that a GED instead of a diploma could affect hiring and promotional decisions, but not to the same extent as no diploma at all.

Yes, they do. He's planning to call them tomorrow.

For future employment, does a GED matter after you have earned college credit or completed a degree?

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Mom20ne said:

Yes, I think he could pass. It's not a lack of ability or intelligence. He definitely would do fine after the 8 week prep course at the community college. 

The reason I asked is that you said he had learning disabilities.  Depending on the disability, this can make passing tests like the GED difficult even if the student knows the material. 

11 hours ago, Mom20ne said:

I can't in good conscience just make up a diploma for him for life stuff.

I would never suggest that you do that.  The idea would be to give him credit for life stuff that you consider to be credit worthy in order to check some of the elective boxes.  For example, I gave one of my sons a PE credit for several sailing courses he did through the parks department combined with a week long overnight sailing camp.  I gave the other one an art credit for his improvisation work in Destination Imagination for two years as well as work with a partner over many years.  At the time each of them was engaged in these activities, I just thought of them as extracurriculars (that because they ended up on the transcript were not listed as extracurriculars elsewhere).  I will say that after actually seeing what was considered credit worthy in the elective department at our local (well regarded) public high school as well as a (well regarded) private school in our area, I relaxed my standards quite a bit.

One other idea is that some states (WA is one of them) have the option to get a high school diploma at any age through the community college system.  If/when he is ready to return to the CC, he could pursue an AA/transfer course packet and a high school diploma all at once.  Of course, that won't help his need for a high school diploma now.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think his mental health must absolutely be the priority, and you do what needs to be done to support that.  In my view, a GED is fine.  Get it done, goal accomplished.  Good for his mental health.   There are lots of people floating around out there with GEDs.  Community Colleges happily take people with GEDs, and then it doesn't matter anymore.

Go with your mama gut.  He needs this.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Could you do one class at a time and do them more intensively? Like grab one of those Movies as Lit curriculum and power through it? I was in a program in college where we did higher intensity but shorter classes 5 or 8 week classes that were equivalent to a semester for credit just more hours spent per week and fewer classes at once. Instead of taking a full load of classes do 25ish hours a week for 6 weeks on just one class.... boom full credit finished.

The immediate reward of this approach might appeal to him. Math could start with a consumer math class.

Work credit can meet electives and so can other interests. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

In his case, there may be some merit to GED. What does he want to do?

You asked if the diploma matter if had an associates. It wouldn't, and if he's completed an AS... you could also issue him a HS diploma.

It sounds like he's a smart kid. What if you looked at what knowledge he has and see if he could take some CLEP exams with just a little prep? I was surprised that our CC takes almost every credit that CLEP offers. If you also accepted those as high school courses, that might move things along for him. Modern States has free prep courses: Courses – Modern States that also give a voucher for the test if you complete them. 

In our state, work experience can be part of a class, so unless you need fine arts for electives, you define how that looks as a class. Maybe add in some career survey tests.

I work for a university, and frankly, we've had a lot of kids just sort of "check out" this year, and we're not even online. They just aren't turning assignments in. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/29/2020 at 9:24 PM, Mom20ne said:

Yes, I think he could pass. It's not a lack of ability or intelligence. He definitely would do fine after the 8 week prep course at the community college. 

I can't in good conscience just make up a diploma for him for life stuff. And unfortunately, he doesn't work well with me. We have a good relationship, but he works well for a teacher in-person. Especially at 18, as a young man, he won't sit with me and let me work with him side by side. He only sees me as mom, even after years of homeschooling. BTDT We've been trying to actively address this since he was 10. Wish he did work with me well! He wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. 

Does the GED matter after you have earned college credit and gotten an associate's or bachelor's degree?

 

For my brother in law, having a GED did not stop him from university and eventually Law school. He has been an attorney for a long time. He had dropped out of public school at age 17 due to not getting along with mom and her new husband.  It's a fun ice breaker for him these days.  I have other friends who never went to college and having a GED was important to get better pay.

If your son can pass GED or HiSET (some states do HiSET instead of GED just like some colleges take ACT and/or SAT), then do that.

If he cannot pass, I'd like to suggest you look at other places plans for a general/vocational diploma.  For example, a school called NARHS has a list of courses in its handbook that might give you a path of idea to give credit and finish up. Here is that link https://www.narhs.com/sites/default/files/NARHS Handbook_0.pdf I am not saying to enroll with them (you can if you want) but to use the structure in that handbook to revise your homeschool graduation requirements with confidence that you are not just making up a diploma.  You might be very surprised that to get an accredited diploma requires less than rigor approach.

And with various learning disabilities you might consider high school materials that fit that bill.  take a look on https://www.wiesereducational.com/products/b_english-language-arts/

for other kinds of materials such as the Walch Power Basic series and ask him to get it done without you. Maybe you know someone in real life who can visit (with mask and social distance of course) so he has someone other than you to turn in the material.

Another friend struggled with this issue in recent years with her son.  He has disabilities, depression, addictions, etc. Stopped working for her in homeschool (but he would turn in stuff to grandpa). Eventually, she graduated him from homeschool with a very general vocational diploma and sent him to Job Corps.  That was a mixed result for him and they are still working on mental health and keeping a job.  Rent etc is paid in chores.

hope you can glean from various short stories of people I know.

 

edit to add:  agreeing with the idea of using the free courses on modern states clep prep as high school basic credit. I think that even if you don't take the clep exam.  If one just did the videos and basic questions on there it would not be an indepth course, but that's ok with a general/vocational diploma path.   high school credit is not always 150 hours for carneige unit, or complete a textbook.  There are other ways to design a goals based course.  may not be popular to admit that, but in some cases it can be a non traditional approach.

Edited by cbollin
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have compassion for your situation. Can you offer any more specifics? I'm confused about how he has three math credits, three social studies credits, and so on, to complete, when he is 18. Has he really only completed one math credit over the past four years?

Are his disabilities documented, and is he getting assistance and accommodations from the disability office at the community college?

What are your reporting guidelines in your state for homeschoolers getting a diploma? Not what the state standards are for students in school, but what are your homeschooling requirements? In our state, for example, homeschoolers do not have to provide any documentation of coursework in order to issue a diploma for a homeschooled student.

I am not suggesting that you fudge anything or stop trying. But I'm trying to get a clearer picture of the problem. What math level is in he in, for example? Is he still working on algebra?

If he has the ability to take an 8 week course for the GED and pass it, then my personal opinion (not knowing what is legal in your state) is that you should not have qualms about looking over what he has done over the past four years with a new eye and deciding whether it passes muster for a homeschool diploma. If he can pass the GED 8 weeks from now, I might argue that you can make a case that he can show mastery of enough high school material to earn a diploma from you 8 weeks from now. But this depends upon what your state requires of homeschoolers.

I have two kids with IEPs in public high school, and I can tell you that class material can be highly modified to allow a student with disabilities the opportunity to pass and graduate without meeting the same requirements as typical students. In my state, for example, students must pass algebra 2, but my son will not be able to do that, so he is excused from having to take that class and will take a consumer math class instead, when he is a senior.

I'm curious about your confidence that he will be willing to take the GED prep course and study enough to pass it, when he is having trouble with motivation in his current classes. I am theorizing in my head that he is a student whose learning difficulties are more severe than may have been realized, which has contributed to this downward spiral. And that doesn't jibe with being able to pass the GED exam with ease, in my mind.

I also wonder how he will be motivated to do community service and work after the GED, if he is not motivated to pursue those things now.

I wish you and your son well. These things are really difficult for both the student and the parents, and I don't mean to minimize any of the troubles that you have experienced with my questions and comments. We worry about the transition into adulthood for my 16 year old, as well.

 

 

 

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites

The GED is not easy these days. (Special Ed teacher here). But adult returning GED classes will still be available to him in a few years. I’d encourage him to get a job even the factory one (I worked in a factory one summer- good experience in some ways). It doesn’t sound like he’s interested in taking any classes right now.

Get the mental health stuff under control, add exercise, & a job and take a break from school.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...