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Has anyone sent their college aged child abroad for a year of study?

Has anyone sent their college aged child abroad for a year of study?

Sep 17th, 2005, 05:12 PM
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Has anyone sent their college aged child abroad for a year of study?

Has anyone sent their teenager abroad for a year BEFORE starting college in the US? Not looking for a semester abroad sponsored by a stateside university for a student already enrolled. How do I begin to research such an idea?

My son is a senior in h.s. with a big IQ and low motivation for schoolwork. A's on tests, often chooses not to complete homework. Very high scores on standardized testing. B average so far in h.s.

Very motivated to do the things he likes- has held a job for a year, always goes in early, works extra hours to make money to build his own computer. Is lead trumpet and brass section leader in his state championship h.s. marching band.

Problem- I don't think he's ready for college and I don't want to pay college tuition for him to sit in his dorm room and play computer games. I also don't want him to stay home and work and go to a local college either. I think maybe a "gap" year would do him good.

I was thinking a year in a Colorado ski town like my brother did years ago but someone on this site put the thought of a year abroad in my ear. Suggestions?
amwosu is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 05:59 PM
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Ny first question would be what does he think?? Or what does he say he wants to do??? Sounds like he has some serious interests and maybe these are things he might pursue. I am strongly in the camp of college is not for everyone---although here in the US that is sometimes seen as heresy.

But to try to help more directly on your original question, I know that I have recently seen books in Barnes and Noble on the subject of planning a gap year so I assume you could find them there or on Amazon or at Borders or other book stores.

Good luck to you and your son.
MaggieOB is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:12 PM
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I tried, but she wouldn't go.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:18 PM
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Do we have the same son?

Has he been abroad before? We've taken my son twice so I was thinking the same thing. He knows how to deal w/ the train systems and is a great traveler. Those are things you might consider. But, as was suggested, he needs to be excited about it and the planning could be fun for you both.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:52 PM
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Hmm, the first thought that comes to mind is something is missing from your posting: what does your son want to do? It sounds like you want to choose what would be best for your son (as we parents would all love to) but what decisions is he making? Why wouldn't it be acceptable for him to go to a local college and continue working at a job he enjoys? If you are afraid he'll be irresponsible away at college, why do you think being abroad would change him? The Colorado ski town sounds like a place a young man could get into a lot of trouble in if he's just "hanging out."

Sorry to be confrontative, but I couldn't help but worry after reading your post. What does your son's college counselor suggest?
KathrynT is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 06:59 PM
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My daughter is coming home next week from 6 months in Italy and I'll tell you--this is a life-changing experience. She's had an amazing time and is eager to go back, but also very motivated in her career goals now. In high school, she was a bit like your son--bored out of her mind. She went with AHA international through a college program, but if you goggle International Student Programs, you'll probably come up with some that are seperate from U.S. university programs.

Just one word of warning...she was really torn and if she hadn't had a ticket home already, might just have stayed on in Italy.

But I think you're on the right track and it would be a great experience for him and give him time to think more about what he may want to do in the future.

Good luck.
artlover is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 07:10 PM
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There are various websites about young people being able to go to Europe and work for a year or so. I think that is one case when it is actually possible to get a legitimate work permit, at least for some limited time period of six months or maybe a little more (perhaps even a year, I'm not sure). Some websites are www.ciee.org, www.transitionsabroad.com, www.workingabroad.com etc.

I don't personally see the point of someone going to work in a ski resort for a year, or what that would accomplish--at least, not unless someone was dying to ski and suggested it himself. Does he really like to ski a lot or something? The people I know who did that were just people who liked to ski a lot, party a lot, and worked in menial jobs, of course (maids in hotels, waiters, etc). Their main goal was to ski. I wouldn't call it a real educational experience (consisted of a lot of drinking and sex).

I also noticed you didn't say at all what your son wanted to do. If he isn't interested in something, he's probably not going to get any more out of it than school, if he doesn't like school. He seems to be somewhat interested in computers, although I think a lot of young people are at a limited level.

You might want to get some kind of counseling for him. There could be some other problems going on here, such as depression.
Christina is online now  
Sep 17th, 2005, 07:21 PM
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You have my deepest sympathy. My youngest son was so much like what you describe your son to be. Extremely bright and very motivated about what interested him, but uninterested in jumping through anyone else's hoops. It just drove me nuts, until I finally decided his future belonged to him and he would decide for himself how it played out.

In the end, he went to school out of town for a year but didn't want to return. He's gone on to lead a very interesting, independent, and, occasionally, financially profitable life. He's continued to learn, is a very bright guy still, and I doubt he has any regrets about not getting a college degree. Actually, I'll have to ask him!

I personally would not have done what you are proposing to do. To me, it's like saying "Here are your choices: You can go on an all-expense paid vacation for a year, or you can go to college and work your tail off. Which do you prefer?"

It's perfectly okay, in my opinion, for a kid to take a year off between home and school to bum around and get some life epxerience under his or her belt, but the kid ought to pay for it him or herself. That's life.
Mary_Fran is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 07:45 PM
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I was just listening to an older Sheryl Crow song in the car and the chorus was "no one said it would be easy..but no one said it'd be this hard..

sandi_travelnut is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 07:55 PM
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My worry would be that once he is out of the school atmosphere and life, he will not be eager to go back to it. Then his chance at college will be lost.
The schools that I know of who send kids away for a semester, require the kid to be attending the school..

Not to diminish your concerns, but aren't most kids motivated to do what they like? that is part of the immature mind that needs further schooling IMO.
Once you all have made the decision that he will go to college, he just has to understand what his responsibilities are...and you have to let go a little bit and trust him to do it.
College might be just what he needs to be interested in something else..high school is such a small (boring) atmosphere after 4 years of the same people etc.
College and the freedom of going will most likely change him a great deal.
Good luck..
Scarlett is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 08:06 PM
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I'm not trying to make my son do anything he doesn't want to do. I just didn't want to write a chapter book to explain the situation.

He has a genius level IQ and gets B's. Never been in any trouble but is a classic underachiever who doesn't care about grades. He never misses school, never complains about school, loves his teachers and they enjoy him, has lots of friends, and is an incredible musician. He is also your typical teenager- a slob, a procrastinator, and lazy about things he deems unimportant.

He'll be perfectly fine if he goes to college next year. He plans to go to either IU for business or Purdue for computer graphics technology. He just doesn't know which he wants to do. He built his own computer this summer component by component and if he could sit in his dorm room all next year and play on the computer I think he would! I don't want to pay $20K for a year of college for him to be less than interested and enthusiastic.

He doesn't want to stay home at ALL. The subject came up of possibly taking a break from school for a year because he is usually busy with work or band when he isn't sleeping or in school.

His h.s. marching band has been state champs 4 yrs in a row and places well nationally. They practice more than any sport team you've ever seen beginning the day after school ends each year for the following season. He is the section leader for the brass section so he has added responsibilities. He left the house this morning at 6am for an out of state contest and I expect him to be back in the middle of the night. During contest season they sometimes leave at 3am and get back the next day at 3am. He is pretty fried with his schedule.

We ski in Aspen every year for two weeks and he loves it there. Skiing and working won't make him any more sure of what he wants to do with himself in college but I do think it will give him the opportunity to learn greater responsibility for himself and gain some life skills. Yes, I know that partying might be part of it. Isn't that true of college as well. That aspect isn't my concern for him. He's never given us reason to think that lifestyle appeals to him.

We own a condo in Arizona and he wants to explore the possibility of working for a landscape architecture firm a friend of mine owns out there (which is how the whole topic of a gap year developed). Sorry I wasn't more clear about the situation.
amwosu is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 08:16 PM
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Actually, I didn't say I would pay for a year of bumming around in Colorado. That would be fully self funded if he choses to take a year off. That would be part of the point.

If he goes to college or studies abroad we would have to help as he doesn't make enough money to pay tuition and DH makes too much money for him to get any financial help. Hence the big, inexpensive state schools as his choices which by the way are his picks anyway, not mine.

So, I'm supposed to tell him he's going to college and here is what we expect while he's there? It doesn't work that well with kids who don't really know what they want to do and don't really care about their grades. You people are wearing me out.
amwosu is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 08:19 PM
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He built his own computer???? wow

Another concern ( these are all mine btw )
If he goes to college a year later, he will be a year older than the other freshmen, no? Will that be a problem for him?

Kids have trouble deciding on most things, this is all very normal to wonder if they even want to go to college or what they will take.. my son still agonizes over every decision he has to make
Scarlett is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 08:34 PM
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Has your son study a foreign language already? Is your son as interested in this idea as you ? Maybe he should research optons and get back with you.

As a parent having gone down a similar road, I hear you--you're trying to help develop his interests/maturity level/buy some time etc, etc.. As a former teacher, it sounds like hiring an expensive baby sitting service
klondike is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 08:39 PM
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sorry...it the **** post button accidentally. Unless he's interested and it's his idea. I think it could be a waste of his time and your money, based your assessment of his strengths/weaknesses. But if he's got the time, and you've got the money...it certainly would be an option

Good luck, sincerely. "It all seems to come out in the wash" down the road if that helps.
klondike is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 08:41 PM
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This is the third computer he's built. His first was a crazy laptop made out of a metal attache case. One of his jobs deals with computers so he's learned alot from his coworkers, computer students at a local technical school.

Scarlett, I WISH this kid would agonize over something but he has no worries whatsoever. He was flunking an advanced Physics class last spring and finished the trimester with a B because we took away his privelege to drive to school and took away the computer and paintballing until the grade came up. Its very nervewracking.

I don't know if it makes it worse or better but his younger brother is the exact opposite. Everything planned, constantly exploring what he wants for himself. Checks his grades online weekly to be sure he still has straight As.
amwosu is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 08:50 PM
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"I think it could be a waste of his time and your money, based your assessment of his strengths/weaknesses."

How would it be anymore of a waste to send him to study or travel abroad for a year than it would to go to college and get poor grades? I traveled abroad in h.s. and college both and I found the experiences to be very educational.
amwosu is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 08:56 PM
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Mary Fran's post just about hit it on the head. Especially the "I finally decided his future belonged to him and he would decide for himself how it played out" bit.

There is nothing wrong w/ a Gap year. Let him make the decision, and pay for it. Of course you'll be there to help if he really gets into difficulty. But you have mentioned several times how brilliant he is -- let him go out on his own and decide what really is important to him . . .
janis is offline  
Sep 17th, 2005, 11:04 PM
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amwosu: I too spent my first year post-high school at a foreign university and traveled during school breaks. I HIGHLY recommend the experience to any interested young person.

My concern is for what is going on in your son's head, and how he will react to a drastic change in surroundings/experience, especially since he seems to be so poorly self-motivated, in a responsible way (anybody can stick with things they're really interestsed in; maturity is doing what is the right thing to do even when it's not fun or interesting). I can guarantee you if he's going to sit in his dorm room playing computer games at the local U., he's REALLY going to do it big time when he's even further from your influence! And it is going to cost you more. I also think it is very easy for a young person to suffer from depression. It is heightened in a foreign, isolated settng.

You note when faced with negative repercussions, he performs as expected. That speaks volumes. If he doesn't think college is for him, let him firgure it out for himself. My parents' philosophy was continue your education or pay rent. Given that choice, the decision wasn't too hard. Let natural consequences education your son.

Lastly, I hear you on the motivation issue; it can drive any parent crazy. But I would be concerned about this maturity issue as well. I think living abroad alone for a year requires a lot of self-motivation and self-control. Perhaps your son will be inspired by this new environment, maybe not. Since you mention not wanting to pay wasted tuition, this just sounds like an expensive gamble. Maybe I missed it, but again, what does your SON think about the idea?
klondike is offline  

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