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Friend's kid - college advice

15 years ago

This isn't really stepfamily related (intact family) but after reading the great advice on some other threads, I wanted to run this situation by you folks --

A close friend of mine has an 18-year old son who will graduate this year. This boy is good-looking, outgoing, very charismatic and has outstanding social skills with peers and adults. He's bright, but hasn't done well academically due to lack of effort and a pretty serious case of ADHD. He's also had some minor scrapes with the law and was sent by his parents to a residential program (reform school) for a year. Since he's been back, his grades have been mixed - half A's & B's and half C's & D's, and he has not taken any SATs or ACTs. He is an active community volunteer and has outstanding leadership ability. You'd never guess the legal scrapes from meeting this young man.

Mom's plan was to send him to a local community college for two years because she doesn't think he's responsible enough to leave home. Sonny isn't excited about that prospect, but doesn't have any better ideas. Mom has a very strong personality and definitely 'wears the pants' in this family, so Sonny will be hard pressed to do anything other than what Mom decides or hit the road -- which he would do, and Mom wouldn't stop him.

Mom and I got to talking the other night, and after a few glasses of wine, I said something along the lines of: "With a personality and social skills like Sonny's, THAT will be his ticket to success in life. He'd be a natural in a field like Sales or Public Relations." She agreed, and I went on with: "So what he really needs is enough education to get his foot in the door and to make him promotable once he succeeds." More agreement.

So here's where it gets fuzzy -- I was thinking that two years toward a four-year degree might be a better choice than two years at community college -- both for potential employers and for Sonny. I think the chances for Sonny getting interested and motivated and finding direction are better at a four-year school, so there's a possibility (though small, IMO) that he might actually stay in school long enough to get a degree there. Also, from an employer's perspective, I think I would be more likely to hire as an entry-level salesperson someone who was 'on break' from a four-year degree program (business or marketing maybe?) than someone who completed a two year Associate's Degree. I would infer that the four-year school person had more ambition and was more competitive, which is necessary in sales, and excuse the 'incompletion' on the grounds that "school isn't for everyone" if work performance was strong.

I tend to think out loud, and voiced these thoughts to Mom, who seemed to agree, and now she wants me to talk to Sonny about it on Friday. There is a four-year school in our city that's easy to get into, inexpensive, and also reasonably well-regarded, so suitable to this approach. Sonny's 'willing' to have this conversation but not enthused. (I've known Sonny since he was a baby.)

So what do you all think? Do you all agree with my train of thought? And if so, how to best present it to Sonny? I suspect his 'lack of enthusiasm' is mainly in reaction to Mom's 'driving the train' and that he'd prefer to make his own decisions -- Yet he's shown no inclination to actually make any decisions...

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