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D 18 not attending college classes

Teenmom73 profile image

Looking for advice and perspective on the following conundrum, Our 18 y D ADHD, generalized anxiety disorder, is struggling to attend her college classes. School has always been a struggle for her. With the lockdown remote learning, she really struggled and developed severe social anxiety about attending school in person. She graduated high school only due to a very understanding school and the help of her father. We encouraged a Gap year, but she really wanted to attend a small local college. Now, unsurprisingly, she is struggling with attending her college classes. We had discussed that it would require her to take out a loan to pay for her college classes. We pay off the loan for passing grades. So now, she hasn’t completed the paperwork for the loan, her college bill is delinquent, and she is not even attending the classes. She says she’s too scared to go to classes. But is refusing any kind of therapy because she’s too scared of therapy. Her father and I are torn between allowing this to unfold, which would likely involve $5000 in debt and being sent to collections, and providing some form of assistance. She does have a job at a restaurant about 20 hours a week and is doing very well there. Any advice on how to manage the situation would be appreciated.

9 Replies

Welcome to the group. We are here to support you while being on this journey. At times, I have needed advice from the outside which helped me a lot.I am not sure what tools ( thearpy, medication and educational plan) your daughter has used but I wonder if working on getting her stable and helping her to deal with the anxiety and impulsivity then taking on other challenges could be an option.

Most children with ADHD function about 2 years younger than their age. I am sure that is also impacting her since she would really be like she was 16 years old.

As far as the money, I am not sure she understands the impact of owing that much. Does she have the skills to budget and balance financial transactions?

It all sounds frustrating becuase I am sure you want the best for her. I would start by helping deal with some things and hold off on the rest she has a life time to be success in college. Maybe try to get her to follow her interest until she gets help.

Good luck on this situation.

Take care.

Oh wow. A lot going on here. I am a couple of years behind you with a 16yo daughter having trouble attending in-person high school classes who also has adhd and generalized anxiety (social). Just this week after the first day we had to remove her and place her in the online option.

The reason I share is that I received wonderful advice this week from my sister who is a retired special education teacher who led post high school transitions. She has seen this all before and empowered me with the paths available to set kids up to succeed.

1. Debt.

Handle this for her. Pay the bill and forget about the arrangement you have paying for passing grades. She is not capable of paying for college with all the mental illness issues on her plate. Remove this stress for her. It’s fantastic that she is holding down a job! This is huge! Instead, require she save half of every paycheck. You want to propel her into her future, not bog her down. I don’t need to tell you that those with anxiety very easily propel into depression.

2. Not attending class.

It it too much for her. Reach out to the school to let them know what is happening and to see if they can switch her to online classes and possibly defer some of her classes to lighten her load. She’s drowning and needs to experience some success. There are so many more online options now due to covid. She is getting social exposure through her job so online school is okay.

3. Therapy.

You cannot force her to go to therapy. What you can do is tell her that you are there for her if she changes her mind. Also offer to go with her if she chooses to go. Set up three appointments with three different therapists so she has the power to choose the one she likes.

The therapists you chose MUST be specialized in anxiety. They absolutely must be specially trained in anxiety. The wrong therapist will do more harm than good. Yes, the wrong therapist could cause damage. They do not all understand social anxiety. If she has tried CBT in the past try DBT. This was what was recommended to me by an anxiety therapist after CBT failed. We didn’t get to it though because my daughter now refuses therapy.

4. Support.

She needs you now more than ever. It’s good that she is communicating openly with you. Approach her without judgment or shame and embrace her with the support she needs. She needs you to take control for the time being. Meet her where she is and help her take baby steps forward.

Please keep me posted on this board or with a private message. I literally dealt with this all just this past week with school starting and too am realizing that my daughter’s path to adulthood may not meet my original expectations.

You’ve got this. No I don't know you but I do know you came to this board so that reveals that you care what happens to her!

Grad guard is an insurance you can get for college tuition. Should something fall apart. Read the guidance carefully. Is there any way you can convince her to consider a life coach? Are you going to therapy to help you with working with her?

I too have an 18 year old daughter who just started college last week, and it has been a struggle as well. I think after a remote senior year of high school, lots of kids are struggling. I agree that she should start focusing on areas of comfort and strength for her and build on that. It’s great she had a 20 hour a week job where she feels comfortable and successful. Maybe she could add on one class, in person or online that she really wants to do, or do no classes, and add time at work. My point here is that there are many paths and schedules. She just needs to find the right path for herself for now. You want her to feel confident and in control rather than overwhelmed.

Hi Teenmom73!I can really relate to your post. My 19 year old daughter had a miserable time in 2020 finishing high school. She has some learning challenges (ADD and Executive Functioning deficit) and also suffers from some anxiety and depression (which became worse during the pandemic). She wanted to go off to college in the fall of 2020, and I supported that because I thought it would be good for her to be with other kids. As it turns out, it was really hard! All of her classes were online and she had trouble getting along with her roommates. College life was just not the same -- not as many activities, limited cafeteria service, etc. Sadly, there was still an active "partying" element, and although my daughter wasn't into that, it made her feel more isolated because there weren't many alternatives. She struggled academically and didn't get help (even though it was available). It was painful for me to witness because I thought she had so much potential and I thought she would access help (e.g., I set her up with a therapist, offered her a tutor, etc.). It was just too overwhelming for her. After one semester she came home.

She then tried to do an online class at the local community college, but even that didn't go well. Remote learning is just not a good fit for her. Finally I encouraged her to get a part time job, which she did. She worked in retail for 4 months, and didn't like it, but at least she got some experience! Now she is looking for another part time job and is going to try taking another community college class in the fall. This one is in person, thank goodness! She is also doing regular therapy (short 1/2 hour Zoom sessions weekly) and working with an Executive Functioning coach (50 min. Zoom sessions weekly). She complains about it sometimes, but she also sees the benefit. It's a process, I keep telling her!

Have you read the book by Stixrud and Johnson called "The Self Driven Child"? I think it's one of the best parenting books. They provide some really good advice about college readiness. I was of the mindset that you should really encourage, almost push your child off to college after high school. However, now I see how that is not always the best thing. I agree with the comments others have made about taking small steps and building confidence!

Best of luck to you and your daughter!

Note: Stixrud and Johnson just came out with a new book, "What do you say?" about building motivation, communication, etc. I am just starting to read it.

Thank you so much for sharing all this! The reality of what may lie ahead helps me to prepare myself and my daughter. I had also bought The Self Driven Child but haven’t picked up to read it yet. Now I will! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I thought your post was great too! Thank YOU! It is great that you are thinking ahead. Best of luck to your daughter and to you. It’s such a tough time for young people right now. ❤️

We had the same situation with our son - I hate to even think about all the lost tuition we've paid over the years. Your daughter is not ready for college and may not be for quite awhile. If she struggled in high school, she will really have problems in college. And she won't understand the whole money issue for years, no matter how much you explain it to her. Have her get full-time work and pay you a small amount out of each check. Her brain is just not ready for all the complexities that college, loans, etc requires. Therapy will not help much either - it might make her feel better, but she won't be able to process what she needs to do for a few years. We pushed college for about 5 years before we finally gave up! Our son is 3 credits short of his degree from community college and he knows he will have to finish this on his own!

Sorry for the delay. Thank you all for such thoughtful answers. She definitely is not ready. I just need to get her to see it. I want to support her autonomy and transition to adulthood. It is SO PAINFUL to watch your child struggle. Physically painful. I will keep encouraging trying therapy, maybe I will restructure it as “life coach”. Thank you all!

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