Ana is the first in her family to go to college and they have been mostly supportive of her decision to go to college. She enjoys texting and calling them almost every day, and they like hearing what she is doing. She especially likes video-chatting with her younger brother. He had a hard time when she left, because he relied on her to help him with his homework.
Because she is having a hard time during the first few weeks of class, she has shared with her parents that she doesn’t feel like she fits in and feels like she has made a bad decision. At first her parents encouraged her to stay and join an organization to meet other people. “It will take some time to get used to being away, but it will get better,” they assured her. After some time, Ana began to feel better about being away and started making friends in her classes.
When Ana calls to check on her brother at mid-term, her parents tell her that her father has been very sick, and has had to take time off work. Her mother has not been able to care for him and her little brother at the same time as her father needs daily treatments and weekly doctor’s appointments. Between his being off work and the mounting costs of his treatment, the family is concerned about being able to pay for Ana’s college expenses. They ask Ana if she can come home for a few weeks to take her brother to school and help around the house, and want to talk to her about what to do next semester.
Let’s Think About It
Ana has several options. Think through the consequences of each one, and choose the best option or create your own option.
- Ana goes home immediately and stays with her family until they no longer need her, even if that means she misses her classes and does not complete any work.
- Ana meets with her professors and asks if she can stay on top of her work until she gets back, and then she heads home with her books and laptop.
- Ana explains to her parents that if she leaves during the middle of the semester, she may jeopardize her progress so far, earn bad grades, and lose her scholarship, so she tells them she cannot do that.
Let’s Talk About It
Ana’s situation—having to make a choice about whether to continue her studies or focus on a personal matter—is not unusual. You may also experience tension pulling you in different directions. Here are some strategies for communicating what you need to make the best choice based on Ana's dilemma:
- “I know that this is important to our family, and I want to be there to help, but I need to check with my professors about what they will allow me to do. The work I have done so far may be wasted if I just leave without sharing my plans and figuring out a way to stay on top of my work.”
- “I am worried about dad’s health, and I would like to come home over the weekend to check in with everyone and see what I can do to help find additional support when I have to go back to school.”
- “What kind of compromise can we make so that you get the support you need and I can stay focused on the work I have to do before the end of the semester?”
Whatever choice you would make in this situation, it is always best to communicate clearly your needs, your concerns, and even your uncertainties.