By Sue Choate
My husband and I always communicated to our daughter and our son that high school was just preparing them for the next four years of school. The world had changed, and we knew that a college degree was what a high school diploma once was. Not attending college was simply not an option. We stressed that they must have college to compete in the increasingly competitive job market!
We were considered strict parents. Our children knew that homework took priority over other activities; they had curfews; they knew what was expected of them socially and academically.
Even though our daughter Kelli expressed an interest in attending Forsyth Tech after graduating from high school, we encouraged her to complete an application for UNC-G so she would have that experience. We didn’t anticipate that she would be quickly accepted, and her plans – and ours – instantly changed. We were caught up in the excitement of dorm room décor, choosing a roommate, etc. We were unaware that we were setting her up for failure.
Sending her off to college was like parking a jet aircraft in the driveway and telling her to fly it. Having a driver’s license didn’t translate into her being able to fly a plane. And while she was an above-average high school student, it didn’t mean she was ready for an unstructured college environment. There was just too much freedom. She’d always had guidelines, but now nobody cared if she studied or even went to class. After she failed one course the first semester and another the second semester, we brought her home.
The next year she enrolled in Forsyth Tech’s college transfer program. She earned straight A’s and got the credits she needed to return to UNC-G. Two years older than when she left high school, she was a more mature young lady with a better perspective on the importance of excelling academically. She re-enrolled at UNC-G and remained on the Dean’s List until she graduated.
When our son Mark finished high school, we didn’t entertain the thought of a four-year college. We had learned that too much freedom is not a recipe for success. He wasn’t excited about the prospects of beginning his college career at Forsyth Tech, but he found many of his high school friends also were attending there. His classes were excellent; the class sizes were small; and he performed well from the beginning. Two years later he had earned an associate’s degree and transferred to UNC-G. He had the foundation he needed to be a serious student, and his grades allowed him to stay on the Dean’s List until he graduated.
If we had to do it again, we’d enroll both of our children at Forsyth Tech for the first two years of college. For many young people, leaving home right out of high school to attend a big university is a waste of a parent’s money and the student’s time. There’s too much freedom and too little accountability.
Going to Forsyth Tech for the first two years certainly makes better financial sense. And with the quality of the instruction, it is a great transition from high school, to junior college, to college.