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I’m making monster noises because my son has gotten bad grades in his first semester and I don’t know if he can keep his financial aid. It’s a big ARGH because college in the US is so expensive and it’s not reimbursed like when you pay for the doctor here in France you get reimbursed by social security. It’s not like that. You pay, and I guess what you get is a college degree.

The US system is beyond me, actually. I’ve grasped the French system – you want to study law, for example, you go to law school and you study law. It’s free (you have to pay for books, and if you live on campus, you have to pay room and board, but it’s fairly cheap) so most people can send their kids to college. You have to get good grades to stay in though (you have to get very good grades, actually.) But in the US, if you get bad grades, you get put on probation and lose your perks. My son was tutoring French, but he’s probably lost that job, and he will have to get his grades Way Way up in order to get a degree now (if I’ve understood anything).

In the US, you go to college and you study…everything. It’s a mass of choices and required classes. If you want to study law, for example, you have to pass history, and to study biology you are required to take English classes. In France, all the basics: French, science, philosophy, math, etc. are taken care of before the baccalaureate. Afterwards, they study only law, or psychology, or science. Some colleges are hard to get into (there is an entrance exam for medicine that requires 2 years of prep studies.) But mostly, you just enroll in the closest college to your home, and that’s it. Why did my son decide to study in the US? I think he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to pass the vet school exam here. But if his grades this semester are anything to go by, he won’t be able to pass any exam anywhere.

What he says is that he couldn’t concentrate. This from the kid who would sit for 5 hours without moving or making noise watching an ant’s nest. I think he just got distracted by too many things to do. Another thing I noticed was that college was like a social club, like Club Med, and there was tons of stuff going on that has nothing to do with studies. (If I’d have gone to college in the US, I think I would have been distracted too…) I’m hoping he can change his room mate (an aspiring opera singer) and get someone quiet to share a room with.
I am hoping he studies hard and gets good grades.

But ultimately, what I know is this: he’s a young man who has to make his own decisions and own mistakes. What he’ll do now, and how he will react to this set-back, will tell volumes about the man he will become. I wish him well.
And I wish he can keep his financial aid.
Anyone want to put a kid through college?