Annie's Mailbox for May 20, 2011: Can't tell parents college is not for me

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Dear Annie: I am a college student. I graduated from community college with an associate's degree in December and am finishing my first semester at the university. No matter how hard I try (tutoring, studying more and for longer hours), I am not doing well. I don't think college is for me, and I want to drop out.

The problem is, I don't know how to tell my parents about my decision. They have always said that school is the most important thing. They would be terribly hurt and disappointed if one of their children quit. I have told them what a hard time I'm having, and they say as long as I'm trying my best, there is nothing to be ashamed of and I should simply study more. But I am frustrated. I can't put more into it than I already do.

My parents don't understand what I'm going through. How do I discuss it with them?

— Sick of Being a Failure

Dear Sick: Your parents want you to have the education that will best prepare you for a well-rounded life and a good job. First, see if you can lighten your course load, taking fewer classes or ones that are not so demanding. Discuss your problems with an adviser. Also take some time to consider your future plans. Think of the type of career you would be interested in and what is required to achieve it. A four-year degree is not the only path to success. And perhaps you might consider returning to school after taking a year off to travel or work. Explore all your options. If you can present your parents with some concrete plans for your future, they will be more open to your ideas.

Dear Annie: I have witnessed my neighbors abusing their children. The preschoolers lived in so much fear of their father that they would hide behind my house. They showed me their bruises and told me about the horrific beatings. I immediately contacted Child Protective Services, but a week later, the abuse was still continuing. I contacted CPS again and was told there was an "appointment" scheduled with the parents the following week. I said those kids could be dead in a week.

I then called the police, who responded immediately. My other neighbors had also contacted CPS without success. We agreed to call 911 any time we saw or heard abuse. The police responded immediately, every time.

Child Protective Services investigates reports of abuse, but it takes time. If you believe a child is in danger, call 911. It could save a life.

— Stop Child Abuse

Dear Stop: Thank you for reminding our readers that in cases requiring an immediate response, the police are the appropriate authority to call because they are trained for such emergencies. Cases of child abuse would then be reported to Child Protective Services, which would investigate and determine whether the child should be removed from the home.

Dear Annie: This is in response to "Quiet and Scared," the high school senior who is afraid of public speaking.

In the small town where my kids went to school, if one wasn't involved in sports, one was "a nobody." My son had a few friends, but for years was picked on and teased. In high school, he joined the speech team. Within three weeks, his self-confidence skyrocketed. He spoke in front of others, and the atmosphere was relaxed. The material is often a poem or short story, so one isn't judged on the content. My son met many people with similar interests who were supportive. He made lifelong friends and went on to become active in college politics and other organizations that involved public speaking.

If speech team is offered in school, all parents should encourage their kids to sign up.

— Proud Mom on the Northern Plains

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