Commute or live away from home freshman year?

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Commute or live away from home freshman year?
By Lindapann (Lindapann) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 10:31 pm: Edit

Our son is about to start his freshman year of college. He was accepted at Ball State University in IN with plans to study music engineering in their school of music (the only other program of its kind is at Miami U). My husband more so than I is adamant that our son stay home his freshman year to attend the local university in our hometown in order to make a smoother transition to college life. My husband is convinced that our son will fail miserably his freshman year living away from home as he struggles (like most young men his age) with time managament and prioritizing his tasks (i.e. he is a procrastinator & can get distracted with his music--both playing & writing). After some thought, I really feel our son will benefit from living away from home this first year and gaining a sense of independence and responsibility--he will be forced to answer to other adults (professors and dorm supervisors). Any thoughts? It is late in the game for our son who is now enrolled locally for the fall semester, however this issue may come up again with our two younger children.

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 10:59 pm: Edit

I don't know about the specific situation at Ball State, but in general, there's a great deal more to college than just going to classes, especially for music and music engineering. Some meetings and other activities may take place in the evening. Socializing is a lot easier if one is on campus. It's not just time-wasting. It's exchanging information, study tips, having discussions, etc... Some colleges require that all freshmen live on campus for these very reasons.
I think you could help your son manage time by calling, emailing to remind him. But he needs to learn independence. And he needs to be a full member of his school community.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 11:05 pm: Edit

I think that if he made it through high school ok and he feels that he is ready for college and wants to live on campus, his wishes should take priority.
Additonally,even though he is enrolled for fall semester ( at Ball?) he can always take a semester or two off if he needs to later. Students also do change schools but it is important for both parents and children to accept that growth means change and change means risk.
I agree with living on campus, it can't compare to living off campus and the rest of his time there will be different.

By Lindapann (Lindapann) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 11:35 pm: Edit

He is enrolled at our local state university branch campus in our hometown for fall semester. The plan is for our son to enroll in some "core" courses that he will then be able to transfer over to Ball State, perhaps next fall and enter into their program. I think my husband's expectations are a little unrealistic when it comes to his perception of how responsible and organized a college freshman should be..........our son finished high school with a 2.78 GPA & ranked # 196 out of 408 students -- not a stellar student. He could have done much better, however as stated earlier, he tends to procrastinate & then squeezes assignments in close to the deadline instead of allowing himself ample time for quality work. I believe that he should have the chance to go away his first year of school, especially to Ball State where the music engineering program is offered as that is what he is interested in studying and has a definite passion for. Now that we are 2 weeks away from the start date @ Ball State, I am very sad and full of regret that this opportunity has passed him by for his first year & wish I approached it more forcefully with my husband. I was the one who attended orientation with my son for 3 days at Ball State & saw everything firsthand. I like the school, faculty, environment very much and believe our son will do well there. We live in CT -- about 11 1/2 hours driving time to BSU. Now the plan is for our son to attend next fall after he "proves" himself at our local university. Just do not want to repeat this scenario again with our 2 younger children.

By Fendergirl (Fendergirl) on Monday, August 16, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit

living on campus is a very good thing for most people. it teaches people the responsibility of living on their own.. making their own decisions, etc. it also helps people to meet others. i know when i went to class my first day i already had some friends in my classes, just by people that i met who lived in my dorm. there was a few commuters who didn't know anyone. so it also helps with the social aspect.

By Robyrm (Robyrm) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:22 am: Edit

Why not innoculate the younger kids with a bit more independence along the way (send them to summer experiences that are analagous to the expectations on a college campus- though not necessarily pre-college programs). My son did Landmark volunteers one summer and came back raring to go for school the next year...Positive experiences like this will give them the self confidence and more self discipline, and your husband the assurance that they are ready to be away, and to handle responsibility.

By Over30 (Over30) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:02 am: Edit

Whatever the state of your family dynamics in regard to your son, that situation is not likely to change a lot if he stays at home. Thus, it may be hard for your son to prove himself and for your husband to accept that proof. Based on what you've said, I can understand why your husband thinks being on his own could be too much for your son right now, but moving away seems as if it could be just what he needs to gain some self-confidence and self-motivation. As others have said, being a commuter won't provide as many opportunities to make friends and move outside the family.

Do your younger children understand why dad wants big brother to stay home this year? If they're old enough, just seeing this situation may motivate them to be more mature. You could also start expecting more out of the younger children to give them the opportunity to learn some independence in high school. Good luck.

By Alexandre (Alexandre) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 09:06 am: Edit

My dad thought for sure I would flunk out of college. Even when I graduated, he insisted on going to the office of the registrar to ask if I had really graduated! LOL Kids will suprise you.

By Texdad (Texdad) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:00 pm: Edit

I lived at home the first two years. I think it is a very big mistake unless there are overwhelming health or financial issues.

Also, if he and you couldn't get him to manage time last year, what will be different this year? Socializing in college will be greatly dampened unless he is very outgoing.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 12:22 pm: Edit

Waiting until graduation from high school to address time management skills, independence, etc.

If the student has been developing through high school, then he/she is ready when she graduates.

I think staying at home for the first year/semester/whatever is actually crippling, not helpful in most cases (as per TexDad). Skills--learning-by-doing--are postponed yet again and self-confidence is undermined. And, as has already been noted by Marite, there is so much more to college than what happens in the narrow confines of the classroom.

By Cyclingdad (Cyclingdad) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 02:17 pm: Edit

My thought is that your son (and you) can make the most of this situation and think more positively about it. After all, it's a done deal. True, he will be in the same home environment, but hopefully he will be more motivated to succeed in his freshman year if he has the incentive of going away to BSU next year. And, I wouldn't think he would miss much of the music engineering program as he will be taking core courses this year. Just make sure that most of what he takes is transferable. And, living at home could mean more or less just sleeping there. He could take full advantage of the campus life (less the dorm) during the day there. Is there any possibility of his moving on campus locally for Spring semester? Just some thoughts.

By Songman (Songman) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 02:32 pm: Edit

It amazes me how some parents on the CC board cannot understand that there does exist at age 17 or 18 a boy that cannot comprehend time management skills,etc. It just has not sunk into his brain yet no matter what the parents say or do. Yes, some of it is due to a parent that is doing it all for the kid.(the babying syndrome) In other cases it truly is either a lazy kid or a more serious emotional problem. I know of four boys at my son's high school that were all the same. When the parents got together at graduation(and I wish we met them at fresman year) we all thought we were alone in dealing with this issue and found out that there were other "absent minded professor " type boys.(boys who scored BTW 1375-1550 on the SAT's and obtained "5"'s on the chemistry and history AP tests)

We deal with this issue all the time. Our solution? (with modest success however) Our son went to camp for three years (sleep away for a month) and will be sent off to board at college. It has to be a sink or swim philosophy for him now. Without knowing your entire story (although it sounds very similar to ours and the sons of the 4 couples we met recently)I say you should have him board at college. Unless he has an emotional/mental issue that would actually place him in a more negative environment!

By Jenniferpa (Jenniferpa) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 06:48 pm: Edit

Lindapann: Are you talking about the Music Tech program? Actually, there's more than Ball State and Miami: my daughter will be doing Sound Recording Technology at Fredonia (different name, same program), and I can think of at least 10 other programs (we looked at most of them). The thing to remember about all of these programs is that they are very intense, with a heavy courseload. In order to graduate in 4 years, even with AP credits, my daughter will be taking 18 credits this semester (plus 3 required classes for which she does not get credit). I realize that, for your family, this year is already planned, but I have to say that even with a highly organized student, this major, in particular, is one which it is hard to transfer into. There are normally very few students in these majors which makes for a tight knit group that will be hard for your son to break into. It wasn't clear whether your son is expecting to transfer in as a sophomore, or start again as a freshman. I'm assuming, if the former, that Ball has agreed to this, or if the latter they have allowed him to defer entry. Honestly, if it was my child, I'd be inclined to choose the latter, if it's available.

I can definitely relate to your son: my daughter is one of the most organized people around but my high school sophomore son is hopeless. This is a child who will do the homework, but fail to hand it in (not uncommon, I understand), and his current class rank is, frankly, mortifying (far, far, worse than your son's). He claims he "gets it" now, but we shall see. If he does, and he's fortunate to be accepted at any college where he does not live at home, he WILL be going, sink or swim. This last bit isn't terribly relevant, but I do empathize.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 - 07:14 pm: Edit

You're instincts are right--as are the suggestions of many of the above posters (mostly male).

Keeping that puppy dog at home will not do the trick. You've got to turn him loose to let him turn himself into a Big Dog.

Lobby H for full boarding at Spring semester? Good practice for lobbying for next two....

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 03:47 pm: Edit

Linda -- I had the same thought as the poster above -- is it possible for him to move away for college in the second half of freshman year?

I don't see anything wrong with students living at home if they want to, or if finances make it desirable. Most kids don't want to, of course.

But I think it's better for your son to try and fail freshman year than spend it at home with his father looking over his shoulder and making sure the work gets done on time, then going off soph year and failing then (I'm not trying to be critical or pessimistic, just pointing out that freshman year is not the worst time to get a few bad grades). I would definitely sit down with H and discuss your concerns, and contact BSU to see if spring semester housing would be available.

Good luck -- you know, your son was in the top half of his HS class, which is probably not the best he could do from what you're saying, but he's only 18 and should be given the opportunity to live his life and make some mistakes! Struggling with time management at his age is not such a big deal (at MY age, however, I've got to do something about it, lol...). If that's your H's main concern, I would consider myself lucky if I were him!

Regardless of what happens, I hope your son has a great freshman year!

By Lindapann (Lindapann) on Thursday, August 19, 2004 - 11:49 pm: Edit

Cyclingdad, from what I gather after speaking with BSU, transferring credits should not be a problem. I've also heard through the years that transferring credits from one state school to another is more accepted than from a private to a state or vice versa -- is this true?
I do feel badly that our son will miss out on the full 4 (or 5) years at BSU. Our local branch of UCONN does not offer housing so having him stay on campus is not an option at any time while he lives at home. He will need to audition for the music engineering program at BSU (he missed the deadline earlier this year & would have auditioned this Dec. if he did attend BSU this fall -- acceptance into their school of music is separate from acceptance into the university itself).
Jenniferpa, you mentioned a Sound Recording Technology program @ Fredonia as well as @ least 10 other prorams you know. Where are the rest of the programs? Did you look at Ball State? We researched "Music Engineering" (which may be somewhat different than Sound Recording), & only came up with BSU & University of Miami as having a specialized program. They are also supposed to be top notch. BSU is just opening a brand new state of the art technology building this fall that is all fiber optic and digitalized & considered to be the most up to date facility as far as a college is concerned & is the 4th largest recording studio / facility in the nation. We were impressed when we paid a visit. I would love to hear about the other programs available so I can compare. BSU requires a minor in applied physics, computer science or digital media in its Music Engineering program & it certainly comes out to be a very rigorous program indeed. I don't think our son yet realizes the seriousness of this program yet. He loves music (he plays guitar, sings, records, writes music & lyrics) & just in the last 2 years has become involved in his high school plays doing the sound board & recording musical numbers. This has made developed an interest in him for the engineering aspect of music.

By Alwaysamom (Alwaysamom) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 12:14 am: Edit

Lindapann, I'll jump in here with two more programs which sound as though they may be similar to the one your son is interested in. They are both at NYU, and both very well-respected in the music business: Music Business in Steinhardt and Recorded Music in Tisch. My D has friends in each. Here's the description of the differences of each:

Music Business students pursue a Bachelor of Music in a 4-fold curriculum rooted in music business, liberal arts, music theory, history, technology, and performance, and Stern business. Students must have a strong music background and audition on instrument or voice. The Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music leads to a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a curriculum designed to educate students in all aspects of contemporary recorded music with a special focus on the art of identifying musical talent within a complex range of recorded music technologies. The majority of students do have a musical background, although this is not a requirement for the program.

I would agree with the others that living at home really deprives a student of a large part of the college experience. One thing I'm not clear on from reading the thread is whether he will be transferring next year? I'm assuming yes, since most colleges will not allow you to attend another college if you have requested a deferral.

By Jenniferpa (Jenniferpa) on Friday, August 20, 2004 - 07:11 am: Edit

The first thing you should know is that this major is one of those that may appear superficially similar at different schools, but is very much driven by the vision of whoever is running it. Starting from the east coast: Northeastern, Clark University, and the Hartt School (at the University of Hartford) all have programs. In Hartt's case they have 3: 2 that are music based (require an audition) and 1 that is an engineering degree. As Alwaysmom says, NYU have a couple of programs, although this is a case that illustrates my above point: the Recorded Music degree has an entirely different approach than any other program that I have seen. Peabody (JHU) offer a Dual Degree (Music and Engineering). They have one of the clearest websites when it comes to explaining what the requirements of their program are. Even if you're not interested in their program, you should look at their site. American and UNC Asheville also have majors in this area. Ithaca, Lebanon Valley, Indiana and Michigan all have programs. We didn't look too far south because my D wasn't interested, so there may be more down there. The Audio Engineering Society ( has an Education page that lists these and others.

We did look at Ball State (briefly) and to be honest, I can't remember why my daughter discarded it. Is he going to audition this year? I would strongly suggest that he do so, rather than waiting until he is in residence. I don't know how many people Ball takes, but most programs only take a handful, and opportunities for transfer in are severely limited. Some schools address this (particularly those where the audition is the most problematic part of the application, rather than the academics) and discourage people from coming to the college in the hope that a slot may open up.

Has he had much formal music training? Many, but not all, or these programs are so strongly rooted in music that candidates wiithout much training are at a distinct diadvantage. To begin with, it's difficult to prepare adequately for an auditon without a professional to guide you, and most schools expect the candidates for this degree to have the same skills as they would expect from any of their music majors. On the other hand, a male vocalist is much more highly prized than a female one (i.e. my daughter) and I've heard one music director say, only half jokingly, that if you're male and interested in musical theatre, they'll just check you have a pulse, LOL.

I noticed that Ball have, on their website, a transfer calculator, to check whether a given class transfers. Have you used it? I don't know how accurate it is, but it might be helpful. I think you're right in your belief that transfer of credits from state school to state school is easier, although I suppose there are exceptions.

I hope I've been helpful rather than otherwise. If you have any questions let me know.


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