A Family Story: When a Child Leaves Home for College

Written by Jacki Schmidt, Parent Contributor | 8 years ago

NCLD likes to stay in touch with the Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Scholars — to hear about their experiences in college and learn about their evolving plans for the future. But when a child leaves the home for college, the family is impacted, too. Here’s an update from one parent.

I’m happy to report that Jared, a 2011 Anne Ford & Allegra Ford Scholar, finished his first semester at college well. He got a C in English, but he did it all on his own and it was fine. (The rest of his grades were A’s and B’s.). Jared is very self-sufficient. He asked me to help him write one paper over Christmas break, but other than that, I have hardly even known about anything he had to do. I was so surprised by that — I thought he would ask me to read over stuff via emails, etc., but so far, not so much.

Jared is thriving in college. He is so excited to be there and he has told “everyone” about his dyslexia and that it is part of who he is. He has never had any problem voicing his needs or anything and he has a group of buddies down there who read over stuff and help him that way without any grudging. He is helping them too, but not in reading.

He goes to a church near the college where one of the pastors is also dyslexic and it really inspires him to continue to reach out to people. He seems to have a knack for finding people who are hurting and that has remained consistent. He is going on a church missions trip in March to a place in Slovenia. It is very cold there and not many people want to go, but Jared says he feels like he was preparing for it his whole life by living in Maine.

Things at home without him are good, too. I worried about missing Jared “so much” and I do on some levels, but really I am quite filled up knowing that he is where he should be and is doing what is exactly what he should be doing at this time in his life. The separation has not weakened our relationship at all. I did not know that could happen.

My second son, Jace, is doing well, too. He did not want the responsibility of being the new “alpha male” as he calls it, but he has stepped into that role quite nicely. Jared is still more responsible perhaps, but Jace is also two years younger and I am confident that in two years, Jace will also be competent like Jared. Jace is very musical and probably finds his place when he is playing his instruments. Music seems to be where he gets his head together. He has straight A’s — which I never expected because I have always had to help Jared so much. He is also captain of the basketball team at school, and is in the upcoming play. Overall, he seems to be thriving even without Jared splitting some of the household responsibilities. I guess it is a guy thing because I never asked him (or Jared) to do anything just because they are the oldest son in the house — but they take it on themselves.

My younger two are also doing well. My youngest, Jordan, was just tested for dysgraphia and it was clearly a problem for him. His IQ was very strong, but his output skills were very low. The testing showed that his short-term memory is very scattered, which attributes to the forgetfulness. There are also organization issues that go along with dysgraphia that we will have to work out. He literally leaves a trail of his stuff everywhere and hardly can find anything when he needs it. He lost 350 points from one teacher just for late homework. He had the work done, but could not find it when he needed to turn it in. So I had to get involved and get the testing, etc., and I am glad I did. He is relieved, too. He thought something was wrong with him and now he understands it is not effort or smarts, it’s just how his brain works. He now has the accommodations he needs. Of the three with learning disabilities, he is the least affected and I am thankful. He is a voracious reader and has a fun vocabulary and quirky wit. I think he will be fine.

I still have to help my third son, Joel, with homework, but one child to do that with is a lot easier than when Jared was home and needed it too. Joel’s dyslexia affects him differently, so we are still figuring out what works for him. I know that if I do my part now, when it is Joel’s time to fly, he will be able to do it well!