“My oldest son, Alec, an excellent student, had a range of top choices of schools and chose a small, rural college in rural Vermont, Middlebury, far from our home base in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he had two crises in his second year at Middlebury. The first: he was studying biology on his way to becoming a doctor, his classes were progressively more challenging, and he came to realize he did not want to be a doctor. He had chosen his major quickly, and I believe, now, due to subliminal suggestions from me. It’s important to know if your student can switch majors, and how difficult that can be. For Middlebury, Alec’s dean was kind, approachable and accommodating. He switched majors from biology to film and media studies after taking a full year off –time he needed, and upon his return he finally found his passion. Unless your student has a direction, which most don’t, I would steer them away from declaring a major too quickly.
The second crisis was depression. Seasonal affective disorder could have been a factor in his depression, especially as this is common for a kid who also has ADHD. I would encourage any parent who is sending a child from a sunny location to a place with a long dreary winter to know whether your kid can handle this. I know what you’re thinking, how would you know? Often it doesn’t rear its ugly head until sophomore year after the novelty of freshman year is over with the prospect of suffering through 3 more winters. It’s very common to experience depression. Secondly, investigate whether the school you chose has psychiatric help and what they offer. It was difficult for us to find the right support, leading to many sleepless nights. I learned it’s important to consider how long it takes door to door to get to your child’s school. In our case, it was 12 hours, two flights and a 45-minute drive. In retrospect, this distance should have given me pause. Several times due to inclement weather Alec missed his connecting flight and therefore slept on a chair or the floor of an airport.
It’s tempting to want our kid to go to that prestigious school, or the toughest one they get into, but carefully examine if that is the right fit for them. He/she and you, as parents will pay the price if it’s not. Look at the distance, the majors offered and when you have to declare them, the flexibility of the school and the support the school offers. These factors are crucial." — Linleigh