1st Year University Student ~ Lesson Learned #2

My son has a very good friend who enrolled in UC-Santa Cruz two years ago.  He’s incredibly smart, and in an incredibly hard science major.

During the spring semester that just ended, he took two courses very high on the intensity level.  The boy made a D in both classes, which made his GPA plunge to under 3.0.  Bottom line?  The school won’t let him enroll in the fall semester.  He received scholarship money and federal aid for the spring semester.  He has to pay all that money back.

Lesson learned?  Listen to your counselor.  Don’t load up any more intensive courses per semester than the counselor advises.

I’ve know this kid since he and my son were in 3rd grade.  So, I have no problem speaking to him like I am his mother.

My mother advice?

#1:  Back off the parties (UC-Santa Cruz is notorious for parties.  Big time.  Clothing optional.)

#2:  Do not live with your girlfriend any longer.  Get an apartment with all guys.

I’ll get back to history food blogging one of these days.  Right now, I’m consumed with moving my son, then moving myself.  Hang in there with me!


University Kid ~ 1st Year Away From Home ~ Lesson #1

My son learned some important lessons in life last week.  We drove 7 hours from Los Angeles to UC Berkeley for orientation.  Then we spent 3 days looking for his first apartment.  He had 3 roomies lined up (none of whom were with us).  I can’t tell you how many apartments we looked at, that everyone could afford.

I knew it was going to be tricky:  I would have to put down the deposit.  We would have to fax the applications to the roomies.  They would have to fax their applications back immediately.

We finally found an apartment everybody could afford.  It was late in the day, so I couldn’t get the paperwork from the rental company until the next day.  We checked out of the hotel the next morning, drove over to the rental office with deposit check in hand.  The door was locked.  I called the office.  Sheepishly, the agent I had been working with told me that, when he assured me the apartment, another agent had already leased it and had not plugged it into the system yet.

I got steamed, but understand how something like this can happen.  My young son did not understand, and went thermonuclear.  He was also getting very sick.  We drove the 7 hours back home (there was absolutely nothing else I could find that everybody could afford).  My thinking is:  We go home.  Kid goes to the doctor.  Something new will be listed.  I can jettison the roommates (who are now become big pains) and find something just for him.  These were my goals:  Get my kid to the doctor, and get a place for HIM to live.

Here’s the funny thing:  I told him that things happen for a reason.  Told him that we would probably find something even better.  Told him that life is what happens when you’re making other plans (thank you John Lennon), and you just have to take a deep breath and go to Plan B.  He would have none of it.  I’m a clueless, naive woman!  (A 20 year old speaking to a 55 year old mother.)

Got him home, to the doctor, plunked him in bed.  New rentals came online.  Drove back to Berkeley by myself.

LO AND BEHOLD:  Clueless, 55 year old mother was right!

Rented him a new, fully furnished apartment, in a 5 bedroom townhouse, with only male Berkeley students.  For $599 a month, he gets:  a private bedroom with double bed and desk, shared bathroom with 1 guy, secured building, secured parking for car & bicycle, all utilities included, free cable TV, free secured wireless internet, washer & dryer inside the townhouse, step out of the building & take a 5 minute bus ride into campus (free), in a very safe and groovy part of Berkeley.

No walking 3 blocks in an iffy neighborhood to catch the bus.  No hasseling with setting up utility, cable, and internet accounts.  No renting a U-Haul truck, hauling furniture, finding people to help us negotiate into his 3rd floor apartment.  No dealing with 3 roommates.  They can figure out their own deal in this same building.

AT THE END OF THE DAY:  My son apologized to me for the yelling.  My son also told me that I was right about life throwing you a curveball, and how you have to deal with it.  He learned that you can’t deal with those curveballs when you are being scared, angry, emotional. 

I thought he learned that lesson 2 years ago when my husband (his father) suddenly passed away and we had to deal with a lot of things we weren’t planning on.  I hope he has learned it now.

I leased him a single bedroom in a 5 bedroom townhouse at Campanile Court.  Google it.  They tell me they have buildings like this near a lot of universities around the country.

Homeschool to UC Berkeley ~ Update ~ How We Did It

Took my son to Berkeley for orientation on July 8.  It was the most incredible day I’ve experienced in a long time.  We started at 7:30 AM and ended at 6:30 PM.   As homeschoolers, my son and I both went in feeling a little intimidated.  By the end of the day, it was drilled into our heads … if you didn’t deserve to be here, you wouldn’t be here.

There have been a lot of challenges getting from homeschooling to this University.  The first big hurdle was getting over being afraid when I took my son out of public school.  The second big hurdle was giving up a lot of income and making sure I was educating my son properly.  The third big hurdle was forcing Santa Monica College to accept the diploma and transcript my private R-4 California school issued.  (Yes, I had to force them.  Hired an attorney who homeschools his own children.  After one phone call, they shut up and enrolled my son.  He did it for free.)  YES!

Getting into Berkeley was a piece of cake after those were accomplished.  My son had a 3.86 GPA from Santa Monica College, has never been in trouble, and wrote an introductory letter that hit it out of the ballpark.  No, we didn’t go to classes about how to write the letter.  We didn’t hire someone to write the letter for him.  He just poured his heart out about his life and his goals.  He was himself.

At orientation, they told we parents the first two most important things about transferring to Berkeley:  #1 is the college GPA.  #2 is the student’s introductory letter.

If any of you homeschooling parents want more specific detail about how we got here, just let me know.  I’ll be happy to share all the experience & knowledge I have.