Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Learning to Count to Six Again- Our daughter's Change in College Plans

Have you heard the latest news at our house?  Our oldest daughter, a college junior, is coming home to finish her degree online.  Yep, like packed up all of the stuff in her dorm and moved back in with us.  I know, crazy, right?  As my husband said - we are learning how to count to six again, now that four kids are back in the house.

I want to tell you a little about the decision and how it came to be, but I want you to know from the very get go that this is MY side of the story and how her father and I see it.  I cannot speak for her, though I did get her permission to post this.  She will have to tell you her side of things next week.

My husband and I both went to college.  It was what one did then and what we grew up believing it was the norm. Therefore, as our oldest got closer to that age, we began planning her college future.  She dutifully took the ACT, CLEPed a few classes and dual credited her senior year here at home via online classes.  We, as in her parents and her, researched many colleges, visited a few, and then she chose one she felt was the best fit for her.  That being said, all the while this process took place, she kept telling us she would rather stay home.  We patted her on the hand, smiled, and then told her no.  She was young.  She was our first born.  She was timid and we felt she had a lot to learn and that she needed to do that out from under our roof.  And so out of obedience to us, she went away to school, entering as a sophomore because of the classes she had already taken online.

We stopped counting to six and started counting to five.  It was a hard transition. For all of us. Because we are a military family, we knew that no matter where she chose to attend she would not be close to "home."  She chose a school over 1,020 miles away. She got through her first year.  She would tell you it was not the most fun experience, but she proved to herself and to us she could do it. We were proud of her.  We saw our timid, first born child take her life in her hands and accomplish great things.  She made all A's except for a dreaded B in Ancient Biblical Greek (my bragging mom moment) and she grew by leaps and bounds.  She made friends that she will always cherish and she found out she was able.  She took classes that she loved and she managed to find joy in the little things.

But, in the end, we were ALL glad when summer came and she headed home.  All too quickly fall came again, but this time because of our recent move, we were now only 7 1/2 hours away from her. We told ourselves it would make all the difference in the world.  It did not.  Despite being closer to her and seeing her more often, my husband and I watched our bright, vibrant girl losing her joy.  Yes, she loved her friends at school and continued to excel in classes and even found her dream job sewing in the school's costume cottage, but on a whole the unhappiness seeped through.  Before even Thanksgiving we began to talk about the what-ifs.  What if she finished with an Associates degree now?  What if she transferred to a school that was closer?  What if we ended up moving even further away from her - then what?

There were so many things to process and decisions to be made.  Here is what it boiled down to -
Her joy is found in the home - cooking, sewing and helping around the house.  While that may not be the "popular" thing, it is who she is and what she loves.  Those are things not easily done in a small dorm room.
She found she could finish her BS degree online and possibly even a semester early.
She had honored her parents by going away to school because they felt she should, but not because she felt called to or wanted to.  She had accomplished that which we had asked of her, though in hind-sight we now will tell you she probably could have done all that at home as well.
She didn't need to go away to "find herself" or discover who she was or what she liked.  She knew those things already and quite frankly they were right here all along.
We knew if we stayed put in our current location, she could "make it through" for another year and a half, but if we moved there was no way she was going to want to be even further from us.
Sometimes mom and dad don't have the perfect plan or all of the right answers.  We are learning and growing too!  (please don't tell the younger three)

At that point her father said, "If she cannot see herself staying there if we move, then she does not need to stay there regardless of where we live.  No one should be miserable at school, except at the Air Force Academy."  ;)   Was she miserable? No, but pretty close and you get the point.  Staying just to stay was not the right answer for us or for her.  And so, when her semester finished, her hero daddy packed her up and helped bring her home.

Let me tell you where this has all landed us, other than having to learn to count to six again! ;)

We are overjoyed that she is home to stay for a while.  While I am thrilled that she went out of obedience to us, I feel a little guilty that that is why she went to college.  We have learned that there is more than one way to do things.  Yes, we knew that, but we obviously did not apply that in this situation.  Instead we followed what the world said was the thing to do.  Raise a kid until they are 17 or 18 and send them off.  Do not hear me wrong, we are not now rejecting the college path.  I am thankful even today that she will still get a college degree.  But, if asked, we do now acknowledge that there is, as my mom would say, more than one way to skin a cat.  Online classes work well for our daughter, and quite honestly would probably have been the best bet for her all along.  Every child is different and is called to something different.  That is also not to say that the past year and a half at school were wasted.  God works ALL things for our good and I do not think He wasted one minute of her past year and half at school.

Every experience God gives us, every person He puts into our lives, is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see. 
-Corrie Ten Boom

I do think that she was on a good path that her father and I thought at the time would take her where she wanted to go.  We now see that that path was not only not quite where she wanted to go, but was also not the best path for her to take anymore.  Flexibly is not always this family's strong point but we are learning.

To trust God.  And to trust our daughter.  I think they are onto something.

And in the meantime, I am just glad to see the joy coming back as she not only spends time continuing to learn but doing the things that she loves with the people who love her best.

Hey, I not only got my girl back, but my seamstress, cook, and cleaner all in one!  What a deal!

I hope you will come back next week for her side of the story!

Blessings,



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40 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this! It was very open and honest, and required courage to admit the things you did! I finally got to meet Ashton through my lifelong best friend Laura Fisher. I was thrilled to discover she lives 5 min. away from my husband's family!! I am proud of her decision to honor her parents, and proud of her parents for being open-minded about another option. I, too, went to a community college to honor my dad, but it didn't last long. It just wasn't what God had for me. College is not the best option for everyone! :) I am now married and teaching violin, and loving being a homemaker! Sorry for the long comment. I'm a new follower. lol ;)

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  2. Bravo you guys!! I wish we were closer, we are like minded in so many things...:)

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  3. I did the "expected" thing and went to college … even to law school. Then I got married, had kids and tried to live the American Dream. But all along I was miserable. I wanted to be home, taking care of my family. And now I do. Fast forward many years with a 19 year old high school graduate and a 17 year old junior in high school. My hope and dream for them is that they find what they are passionate about and do it without feeling they have to justify it to anybody! My daughter is in cosmetology school, which was her dream since she was a little girl. She is so happy. And she is living at home. And I will likely never be able to get rid of her (I kid … sort of). My son really has no idea what he wants to do in the future. And, really, he doesn't need to know yet. I have made it clear to him that he can live at home as long as he wants, as long as he is moving forward in his future (furthering his education, working, saving money, etc.). Living at home is not a free ride and an excuse to be lazy, but it is a safe place to stay until they "figure things out".

    So glad that you all made a decision that you felt was best for your family. Bravo!

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  4. Thank you Michele. I always love hearing about your family and this was an especially Happy New Year blog! Blessings to Ashton for the courage to do what she knew God wanted despite what anyone else might think. I am happy you are all together. God bless you all.

    Love Beverly

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  5. Love. Love. Love. Love your post. Love your journey. Love your family. How wonderful!! Jennifer H.

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  6. Thank you so much for this article! It was an encouragement to read this. I actually originally met Ashton through online classes before we met in person on campus at Maranatha. I actually have been going through some similar struggles as well because I have never been career minded at all but know that I should have something at least to fall back on. I too have been looking into some online degrees to do and so this was so encouraging to me to know that I'm not the only one. May the Lord bless you Ashton and we will miss you!!!!

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  7. Loved hearing this too! While I am in the midst of preparing to send my first born to college in the fall of 2015, it is in the back of my mind if we are doing the "right" thing. She wants to go at this point, I would rather she stay closer to home. But God has a plan and right now we are heading on this journey until something else is revealed.
    So glad you are counting to six again!

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  8. Loved hearing this too! While I am in the midst of preparing to send my first born to college in the fall of 2015, it is in the back of my mind if we are doing the "right" thing. She wants to go at this point, I would rather she stay closer to home. But God has a plan and right now we are heading on this journey until something else is revealed.
    So glad you are counting to six again!

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  9. I am glad you guys are supporting her in this. Sounds like the new plan is a great one, and how nice to have her back around.

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  10. We went through this same thing with our daughter. She kept saying she really didn't want to go off to college, but she did and was miserable. After a rocky start and several semesters later, she moved back home and has taken college courses online ever since. She is two semesters from finishing her degree, but has become pregnant with her second child and she and her husband decided together that she should take a break and focus on their family for now. Her heart is to be a homemaker, and she is so happy that her husband is supportive of that desire. Thanks for sharing your story!

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  11. I can understand! I went away to school, did what I thought I should do, etc...and was so incredibly miserable it wasn't funny. I came back home, changed schools and majors (I thought my mom would have a heart attack when I went from pre-med to theater, but she's weathered it quite well lol) and was so much happier it wasn't funny. Some of the girls in my dorm left for freshman year and never looked back, but for me, the only way to go forward was to go back. Enjoy this new time!

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  12. thank you for sharing this!! Our second son has no interest (currently) in attending college and we decided even before he graduated high school not to push him. We are in a minority in this - it seems the norm is that kids are "supposed to" go to college for at least the first year after they graduate high school. Even if they don't want to go. Even if they don't know what they want to study or choose for a career. Even if it's completely unnecessary for the career they have chosen. Even if it would be an incredible strain on finances or on their personality. We are comfortable with our son staying at home and just working at the job he has until he is sure of his next step, whether or not that means further education.

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  13. Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing - it speaks to me of "train a child in the way HE should go," which to me says help them find where they are strong and enable them to thrive in it. We can all learn from one another, and I have learned from you. Bless you!

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  14. I very much enjoyed your post. I think it is so easy to forgot the first calling of a women, to be a keeper of the home. I think it is wonderful that your daughter desires to pursue her interests while still being in the home. I know that the Lord will BLESS her for her obedience and I know that you will blessed in return.

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  15. So glad she is home. And that everyone will be blessed by her returning!

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  16. Ashton is an amazing young woman.

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  17. What a wonderful story! Thank-you for sharing your openness. It sounds like it is a blessing for everyone to have her home again!

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  18. What a great post!! I'm so glad to hear that she is home and everyone is blessed by this whole learning experience.

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  19. Thank you for posting this. I'm in a bit of a conundrum myself at the moment, and have told my high school senior son that we need to sit down and plan out things - because while he wants to go to a particular school, he's not so sure that he wants to do it right now - and that absolutely gives me hives, because those that "take a year or two to work and go to school at the local community college" almost never finish or escape. And there isn't much potential for a secure financial future possible otherwise, at least around here!

    So I'll keep this in mind as he and I chat... maybe his thoughts of possibly waiting a year, continuing to volunteer as an assistant scoutmaster, maybe they aren't so horrid an idea after all.

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  20. This is really a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it!

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  21. Loved the post! My daughter is graduating this year her name is Ashley and she is our oldest and trying to figure out what she wants to do. How do you find a list of accredited online schools?

    Blessings,
    Jalynn
    pattersonmom24@aol.com

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  22. Your post brought tears to my eyes. I'm so glad that she is home and happy now.

    I know that I am stuck in the "kids need to go to college" mode myself. My older 2 daughters went away to school and thrived. My wanted no part of the on-campus life and went locally. He hated a lot of it--he has a lot of trouble focusing in a lecture format of teaching--but is proud of himself for finishing. At this point, I'm trying to accept that my 8th grader may take a different path--she is not a motivated student, and a different path may really be better for her.

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  23. LOVE this blog post, sweet friend!! What an answer to prayer! Enjoy having your girl @ home :)

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  24. What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your journey. I'm so glad that it has worked out for everyone. Thank you for linking up to the Hearts for Home blog hop.

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  25. Beautiful post! Love your heart for your family! I'll be sharing the link for this post as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew's blog share for this week. Blessings to your sweet family! :-)

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  26. I liked this post - my oldest who will just be 12 next month has decided already she doesn't want to pursue higher education. I have a ton of student debt from earning my Associates and finding a way to pay it off or keep it in deferment is always in the back of our minds - I don't want any of my children feeling like that when they enter marriage. I'm fine with it. My husband and our family don't agree and want her in college, I've told them if she wants to do college she can do it online but it will be her choice. Right now she wants to pursue YWAM's dance mission and drawing and then if the Lord wills it get married and have children - it's uphill battle as her grandparents, aunts and uncles all have her going to vet school, doctor training, nursing but none of them want to understand that the Lord isn't calling her in the direction.

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  27. I know you are so thrilled to have her back. And for her, there is no place like home!

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  28. Thank you for sharing this. Our oldest daughters are 17 and 16. Planning for their futures has been one of the greatest tests of faith in parenting thus far! Your post encouraged me this morning to stand strong even amidst the familial pressure we face to "do it like everyone else."

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  29. What a beautiful story about parent / child expectations and hopes—and the give and take it may require on both sides. Great wisdom for me as my kids grow. Thanks, Michele!

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  30. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Thank you for this honest and loving and heartfelt glimpse into your family.My husband and I have come to similar conclusions and convictions as you and your husband, slowly, over time. How wonderful it is to have choices! And what a joy to have your daughter in your home. Even numbers are very nice! Enjoy one another, blessings to you and your family!

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  31. Hi, Michele! I agree that going away to college is the accepted formula our culture tends to push kids into---without ever considering if that is how God is leading. And I've been reading that going to college nowadays doesn't even guarantee that a grad will get a better job. Though the experience was probably very valuable, good for you that you listened to God's leading & your daughter's heart. Thanks for sharing this & for visiting me at Doorkeeper. Blessings!

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  32. It is so important, I think, for each kid to look at their interests, desires and personalities when it comes to choosing what to do after their compulsory education is complete. Be it a trade school, apprenticeship, four-year traditional college, online degrees, etc. We've raised a couple generations now on the dogma that "you must go away to a four year college and get a bachelor's degree to be successful in life" . . . but it's just not true. Many people graduate buried in debt. Many pursue degrees that have no purpose or demand in the real world (take it from someone whose undergrad is in theatre). Though I made lifelong friends that I would not trade for the world at my Christian 4-year college, I might be just as well if not better off now had I chosen to go to a cheaper school closer to home - even if I still chose to major in theatre instead of science (which had been my plan for a time). And I probably still would have made lifelong friends.

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  33. It is so important, I think, for each kid to look at their interests, desires and personalities when it comes to choosing what to do after their compulsory education is complete. Be it a trade school, apprenticeship, four-year traditional college, online degrees, etc. We've raised a couple generations now on the dogma that "you must go away to a four year college and get a bachelor's degree to be successful in life" . . . but it's just not true. Many people graduate buried in debt. Many pursue degrees that have no purpose or demand in the real world (take it from someone whose undergrad is in theatre). Though I made lifelong friends that I would not trade for the world at my Christian 4-year college, I might be just as well if not better off now had I chosen to go to a cheaper school closer to home - even if I still chose to major in theatre instead of science (which had been my plan for a time). And I probably still would have made lifelong friends.

    (For me, as an extrovert and educationally ambitious, college would have always been part of the formula - but that doesn't mean it is or should be for everyone. I needed and wanted the atmosphere of the classroom, girl's dorms, choir and the opportunity to prove myself on a larger academic stage.)

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  34. Way to go Ashton! I went through a similar process, but I ended up deciding that Liberty was where I was meant to be. I'm happy you've found a solution that works for you as well! Congratulations on your big decision! (:

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  35. I love this, because it speaks to training your children in the way THEY should go. I read this when you posted it on the TOS forums, but I don't see a comment from me, which is odd; I almost always comment on anything I read. (Oh, I did a search for my name and do see my comment from before, now. LOL)

    Anyway. Thanks for linking up with Christian Fellowship Friday! Bless you!

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  36. Thank you for posting this. I'm a sophomore in a brick and mortar college right now and have been considering switching to my school's online program. Instead of going in as a sophomore like your daughter, I graduated high school a year early. Its nice to see another smart girl who had the same problems as I'm having and I'm happy she found a way to fix it.

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  37. This was a great post and I am pleased to hear your daughter has found what makes her happy :) I know that is what I want most for my daughter! High school seems to be flying by and I want her to make decision for her future that challenges her and makes her happy. We recently shared a wonderful book together called, "10 Things I Wish I Knew in High School" by author Sarah Galimore (https://www.eppinspires.com). The book is short but filled with valuable information about high school, college and career pursuits. It's a book that I wish I had when I went to high school! The author makes a great point, something that has stuck with me and that I think is very relateable to what your daughter has gone. A person needs to understand clearly what their definition of success is (e.g. a good family, lots of money, giving to the community) and let that guide their career pursuits. It doesn't matter what the cookie cutter version is of what a person needs to become in order to succeed; everyone is different! The book is fantastic and informative and the website provides lots of helpful resources for teens getting ready for high school or college. I recommend it to all parents who want their children to find happiness :)

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  38. Just ran across your blog and this particular post. It reminds me of my son's decision to stop taking college classes and pursue a career in the entertainment industry where He feels God is calling him. It was a hard decision, especially for my husband and I. I had always dreamed of seeing him walk across the stage and accepting his college diploma, but we decided to trust our son in his decision and support him as he continues to seek God's face for this new direction in life.

    Can't wait to read more about you and your family!

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    1. Glad you found us Lynn! Yes, we are learning our dreams may not be God's plans and to hold loosely to what we envision! Ashton has continued to do classes online and will graduate in December. We are excited to see where the Lord will lead her. I will add your son to my prayers- may he follow the Lord wisely and with passion!

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