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Stubborn friend setting himself up for disappointment. How can I help him?


ziggie31

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My close friend (we'll call him Jay) and I are going to be freshmen at the same college next year. Because my boyfriend went to the college last year and I spent a fair amount of time up there visiting, I like to think I got a fairly good idea of what to expect for the upcoming school year.

 

However, I don't think Jay understands what he is in for, and he's a VERY stubborn person and won't listen when I give him advice.

 

Let me tell you what I mean: I'm going into the first semester with 21 credit hours already filled from AP/SAT scores. I've carefully mapped out all the general education requirements I need to fill and have found that I can have everything taken care of by the end of my freshman year. Because of the freedom that leaves me with my scheduling, I've decided to take on a second major because I know I'll have time to complete it.

 

Jay is going into the first semester with 6 (possibly only 3, I'm not sure) credit hours. He wants to do a major and double minor, which is a fairly extensive amount of work. However, at the rate he's going now with his scheduling, he will NOT be able to reach his goal. He refuses to take a good number of credit hours this semester (he could take 17 out of a maximum of 18, and instead he thinks that's too much and only wants 13 or 14, even when 15 a semester is needed to reach the minimum number of credit hours needed to graduate). He insists on taking an anthropology class that fills absolutely no general requirements for him and is not even related to his major. When I try to make suggestions to him or guide him, he is stubborn and does NOT listen.

 

I don't want to see my friend crash and burn, and if he continues with his attitude, he won't be able to complete his major/double minor without EXTENSIVE summer schooling, loaded semesters and extreme luck with scheduling, none of which I can see him willing to take on in the future. However, it's not my job to hold his hand and baby him. It's his life, not mine, and if he doesn't want to listen to my advice, he doesn't have to.

 

I want to be a good friend and help him go in the right direction, but I'm tired of my advice being ignored. What should I do?

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Stop giving him advice because it sounds like he is not asking for your input - you can be a good friend by letting him make his own mistakes - repeating endlessly what you think he should do is not being a good friend, it's being patronizing. Maybe he knows he can't handle more than 13-15 credits and is willing to overload his schedule or graduate after 4.5 or 5 years rather than the 4 years. What you call being stubborn is simply his disagreement with your approach, which he has every right to disagree with. If he asks you again for advice, tell him that you have given him the best advice you know, and that you wish him well.

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Stop giving him advice because it sounds like he is not asking for your input - you can be a good friend by letting him make his own mistakes - repeating endlessly what you think he should do is not being a good friend, it's being patronizing. Maybe he knows he can't handle more than 13-15 credits and is willing to overload his schedule or graduate after 4.5 or 5 years rather than the 4 years. What you call being stubborn is simply his disagreement with your approach, which he has every right to disagree with. If he asks you again for advice, tell him that you have given him the best advice you know, and that you wish him well.

 

At our college, if you take longer than 4 years to graduate, you can only take one major and no minors. If that's his approach, he will fall short of his goals. I don't know if he really grasps this.

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Having been called "stubborn" a time or 4 dozen myself, lemme tell ya something about stubborn people.

 

That approach you're using doesn't fly well with the stubborn -- even if you are right.

 

The stubborn tend to have learn things first hand (often times called "the hard way") to really get it. Even after (many) times doing that, they very often still will not take unsolicited advice -- even if it is sound.

 

If he didn't ask for your advice, don't offer it up (unless you WANT to be ignored). If he is truly stubborn, he will likely blow you off anyway because he'll prefer to figure it out on his own.

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There's really no need for you to try to organize your friend's academic life for him before the first day of freshman year! The college will assign him an academic advisor who can give him a reality check on his plans. Plus, a few months from now your friend will know very well what he can handle on his college schedule, from personal experience.

 

Honestly, what people think they'll do when they get to college is often very different than what they actually do once they arrive and start taking classes. That could prove to be true even for you, no matter how thoroughly you think you've mapped out your future. Especially if you are intellectually curious and open to trying new subjects.

 

Don't worry that this friend doesn't have the perfect 4-year plan. It's perfectly fine to arrive with NO plan in your freshman year, to just sample from various disciplines and fill in some general distribution credits and find out where your intellectual passions lie.

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I think you should stop trying to arrange your friend's life. Yous seem to have good intentions, but I'm sure it gets annoying for your friend, especially since you haven't experienced college yet either. As someone who has been to college, I can say that pressuring someone to take more credits than they are comfortable with in their first semester is bad advice.

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Thanks for the input, everyone. I'll take a few steps back and give him some breathing room, though I still have a bad feeling and do not want to see my friend fall short. I'd almost feel as if I were partly accountable if I noticed that he was making poor decisions and did nothing to try and help him.

 

I think you should stop trying to arrange your friend's life. Yous seem to have good intentions, but I'm sure it gets annoying for your friend, especially since you haven't experienced college yet either. As someone who has been to college, I can say that pressuring someone to take more credits than they are comfortable with in their first semester is bad advice.

 

Yeah. The only thing tho, I don't think it's that he's uncomfortable with taking 17 credit hours, I think he's being lazy. He got lazy in high school, ended up with a D in one of his classes, and almost got kicked out of college for it. But he didn't learn anything from it, which is worrisome. He seems to have a very skewed idea of college which is basically that he should take as little classes as possible to make room for partying and being social. I think there's plenty of room for both and academics shouldn't be sacrificed. But, that'll be something to judge when the time comes I suppose.

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Thanks for the input, everyone. I'll take a few steps back and give him some breathing room, though I still have a bad feeling and do not want to see my friend fall short. I'd almost feel as if I were partly accountable if I noticed that he was making poor decisions and did nothing to try and help him..

 

Ok, so you have empathy....you don't want to see a friend fail and/or get hurt in the process.

 

But it's not your responsibility to choose what's best for him.

 

Some of the most memorable and (in the long run) the best things we learn come from things other people tried to tell us were 'mistakes.'

 

My college bf started his first year of college going full bore, burnt himself out, crashed (HARD) and then had to take a year off and get himself sorted out. He came back after that year and started over again, and went on to do just fine and graduate (My first year was the year he took off). In retrospect (and we're talking a good 20+years of hindsight at this point) he said he gained a lot and grew a lot through the whole crash-take-time-off and got more out of college on his second go-round because he'd been able to figure out he really wanted to be there.

 

The other (unintended) message your over-concern is sending is, "I don't think you're smart enough to figure this out yourself." Now, from what you've posted, I don't believe you think that at all and your intentions are good -- but sometimes, that kind of behavior can come accross to someone on the recieving end of it as.....a "vote of lack of confidence" rather than purely an expression of concern.

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