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Dear Carolyn • A year or two after high school, my brother joined the military. He has just finished his time with them and is now talking about going to college on the GI Bill. I think it is a wonderful idea, except he wants to take a full course load right off the bat. He barely, and I mean by the skin of his teeth, graduated high school. My suggestion to him has been to take one, maybe two courses tops at first to get used to the workload. He believes that because he finished advanced training school with the military, he can handle the full course load. However, he has never been good with self-scheduling, and I think military courses are MUCH more regimented than your average college course, where a professor can give you a syllabus at the beginning and not say another word about the tests, papers and homework. I understand his desire to get in and get out before he is 30, but I know how hard it was for me to juggle a full course load. He also doesn't handle crashing and burning well. What else can I say to him?
Dear Anonymous • Or, if you can say it honestly: "Wonderful idea, I'll be rooting for you." Your brother is a grown man, one who found an effective and honorable solution to the problems created by his so-so high school performance. Show him a little respect. And even if he's on the path to disaster exactly as you've called it, it's his job to avert, mitigate or clean up after said disaster not yours. You get one "Have you considered easing into this, to make sure you can adapt to academic life?" suggestion, then you're out of his business. That includes any cleanup operation if he is overwhelmed, unless he gets in serious trouble. The healthy extent of your involvement is to help him help himself. Consider this: Maybe his difficulties with high school, self-scheduling, bouncing back from crashing/burning, all extend from being over-meddled with when he was in his formative years. People learn to stand alone incrementally throughout childhood; did he get that chance? Respect his autonomy and accomplishments, and let him (learn to) stand alone.
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