Dear Abby: I disagree with your advice to "Perplexed Mom in New York" (June 20), who is requiring her son to live at home his first semester of college because of "less than stellar" behavior during his senior year of high school.
I am a college administrator in charge of dismissals. It is not that difficult to get a dorm room midyear because there are dismissals, transfers and students who change their minds about their living arrangements.
If "Mom" warned her son that his high school conduct would have an impact on her decision to allow him to live on campus, she should stick to it. She should not let him bully her into giving him something he doesn't deserve. He needs to understand that his behavior cost him his dorm space. She made the right call.
I recommend spelling out in writing exactly what he will need to do to move on campus. He should be allowed to move only if he complies 100 percent.
College is a gift to be earned. There is no legal obligation for parents to pay for their child to attend. And when there is trouble, parents must act quickly and not attempt to block consequences their kids need to experience. It's all part of the learning process.
— Ann in Newark, Del.
Dear Ann: Thank you for lending your professional perspective. Responses to that letter poured in from educators, students and parents who "kindly" reminded me that times have changed since my college days. Read on:
Dear Abby: The cost of housing and food service at college can often equal or exceed the cost of tuition. Students who have the advantage of living close to campus can save a significant amount of money by living at home. To fully experience university life and meet new friends, they can become involved with the many campus organizations that are sponsored.
Higher education is very expensive, and students need to understand the costs. Any method to cut down on the expense, including living at home, should be discussed by parents and children. In today's work force, a college education is extremely valuable — and one can be obtained without breaking the bank.
— University administrator in Colorado
Dear Abby: My advice to that mother and her son is to call the school and ask if there is any space left in the dorms — fast! The freshman year of college is a critical time in a person's life, one in which students are open to making new friends. Living on campus in a dorm makes it much easier and allows them to better integrate into campus life.
While there are many commuter students across the nation, they can suffer from loneliness and depression because of their detachment from the rest of the students on campus. I, too, went to a school within reasonable driving distance from home, and I know from experience how difficult it can be.
— Tracy in Washington, D.C.
Dear Abby: How long has it been since you've lived in a college dorm? You advised that dorms provide supervision and structure. Abby, countless unstructured, unsupervised and uncondoned activities go on there.
"Perplexed" should stick to her guns. If her son's senior year was "less than stellar," his freshman year at college could be a disaster. Moving into the dorms midway through the school year won't end the world. I saw kids do it all the time. Things have changed, Abby. Wake up and smell the brewskis!
— Seen It All in Kentucky
Dear Abby: That young man should pony up some of his own money if he wants to live on campus, because then he will be more likely to appreciate the investment. I had a job all through high school and college. Paying my own way made it that much more satisfying.
— Michele in Wisconsin
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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