My 18-year-old son has just entered college as a freshman. He has a workstudy as part of his scholarship and he has been hesitant following up on job leads.

Beyond baby sitting a few kids in our neighborhood, he hasn't really worked most of his life. He shows interest, but is often hesitant to follow leads. He is an introvert, and finds it difficult to "push" for things. I have been teaching him that a "drive" is essential, and model my own life as an example, but it has not worked.

Now, I have told him to get a job on campus and use it to buy his textbooks and other needs (clothes, etc.) while in college. This is the least he can do. But so far, he hasn't secured any, and all excuses (office closed, waiting for a buddy to go with him, busy with classes) so far seem flimsy.

Here is what I plan to do. I will not buy his textbooks during the upcoming winter term. If he doesn't get a job within the next couple of weeks, he sure will be thrown out of his classes when classes resume in January, and he will have to drop out and look for a job to enable him purchase his books.

Is this a realistic approach, even if it has a potential of compromising his access to education? I will appreciate any other suggestions to get him to look for a job.

  • It's might sound harsh to others if you could afford the books why not buy them and just work on motivating him on being independent? As you said books are vital and he surely needs it.
    – user22314
    Sep 24, 2016 at 23:06
  • If he is thrown out of class (and possibly then drops out of school) for not having the necessary material, what is the path for him to return to school once he's gotten the job and bought the books?
    – Acire
    Sep 26, 2016 at 17:14
  • 1
    From your description of your son it almost sounds like myself when I was a college freshman. Let me play the sons advocate: does he NEED a job or is that just something you want for him? Does his career depend on having Starbucks on his resume after getting a college degree? Do you think he doesn't have work ethic, and won't have it without working some poorly paid student job? Sep 28, 2016 at 20:41
  • Thanks very much for all your responses. I will have a chat with him, and we can move forward from there. best regards, Oy Sep 28, 2016 at 20:57
  • It's very very possible to successfully complete courses without owning the text book. Many courses don't have required text, some instructors (me) don't use the "required" text during lecture. He's an adult. Talk to him like one and tell him your concerns. How is he paying for recreation and clothing? Could you provide for college only and cut off any extras?
    – Jess
    Oct 2, 2016 at 3:21

3 Answers 3


My advice would be not to withhold the necessaries (like textbooks). If your goal is for him to get an education, you are shooting yourself in the foot by causing him to fail in college. Paying for everything he needs for college sends the message that this is what is important. If you just want him to "work", regardless of what he is working at, he doesn't need to go to college for that.

Give it some time, and give him nothing beyond the essentials and I'm guessing after a few months of watching his friends ordering pizza and going to movies and dances and dating and other fun stuff, but not being able to afford them himself, he'll go to work. Up til now he has (I assume) lived at home and had access to your TV and been taken out to movies and to restaurants. Everything is very new and exciting at college, and he's not missing the extras yet, but if he's a normal young adult, he will. Peer pressure will do your work for you.

And even if he doesn't, the most important thing is his education. As long as he's getting decent grades, the rest will come in time. College is the place where he will find his passion, hopefully in an area that will make him enough money to support himself. It took me about a year to make the transition from the mindset where I was being "taken care of" by my parents to the realization that I needed to be responsible for myself. Give him that much time, and see what happens.


Discussion: Discussion provides excellent result all the time. As a parent you can frankly discuss with him about his future, self establishment, being extrovert, necessity of odd jobs etc. If you able to convince him with real life example it will be excellent. True fact is that, it does not work all the time. All depends of how much you can create an impression on his thinking and mind. If he impresses definitely he will follow, otherwise not. Introvert type also affects of his way of thinking, he might think he has to deal with many people while doing job. So, first try to fix with a deep discussion.

Tactics: No problem on being tactful for you child. But needs to be very careful and analyse his mind what would be side effect or what would be his reaction on your decision. If you think there is a great chance to misunderstood you than really it is a dangerous way to go. Child of this age usually become arrogant and misunderstood on reaction of this type of actions.

My Suggestion: You can give him ultimatum if discussion does not work. Give him time to cope up or adjust or decide for one semester and then apply your tactics. It would be best if you can convince him with the example of successful icons or his friends or someone else.


What does he express an interest in? Certainly people can be interested in many things without academics being one of them. It's possible he just doesn't see higher academics as vital to the process of pursuing what he really wants to do in life, and all the pressure to be what others expect is working inversely toward his goals.

A job during college may not be all that people assume it should be. One may say it builds the work mentality, teaches responsibility, or whatever, but I disagree. In general I disagree with the execution more than the principal. Income may be necessary, but a job isn't always the best route to go down, especially if you're just looking for general supplement for basic needs and not like fully supporting a family or something.

To tie things up a bit, I supplement income quite a bit by making things and selling things on ebay. That's just one way and the solution depends heavily on his interests, skills, etc. My sticker cutter was only like $200 and it generates about $800 a month from about an hour or so a day in actual work. Compare that to whatever a part time job pays, demands, and distracts from school work, even as simple as the time it takes to travel to and from. Plus, it introduces the idea that working for yourself may be more appealing and effective than the route of standard employment. It may sway him to take an interest in the entrepreneurial courses available in most colleges.

Point is that following one's interests can achieve the same goal, inspire him, and generate income by using skills he may already have. He just needs the encouragement and support to get started. It all probably starts with asking him what he wants to do, whether or not his goals align with your expectations.

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