June 30, 2010

Admit to making mistakes,commit to making changes

Morning Sentinel Staff

Dear Harlan,

I don't even know where to begin. I recently had a very bad semester at the close of my sophomore year. I made some bad decisions. I didn't always go to class because the classes were, for the most part, online. I fell behind and couldn't recover.

When I got my grades, I prayed I would only be on probation and have an opportunity to retake the classes and set things right. But, instead, I found out that I had been academically disqualified from the university.

I'm very active in student groups, and even though I may have to attend a semester at a community college so I can then transfer back into the school I love, I really want that to be my last resort. I have the chance to appeal, but I don't think what I told you would persuade them to let me have another shot.

The other side of the coin is that if/when this becomes final after I try to appeal, how do I tell my parents? That actually scares me more than anything. I come from a high-achieving family with three siblings who have all completed college and earned degrees.

I'm really at the end of my wits racking my brain trying to figure out a solution. I'm at a loss.

Hanging by a Thread

Dear Hanging by a Thread,

Here's what you should NOT do: Hide, run, get angry, make excuses, feel ashamed, feel stupid, be embarrassed and be afraid.

What you should do: Admit you made a mistake, apologize, face this and commit to making changes.

Understand that the people reading your appeal want you to succeed. "When I read an appeal, I recognize that everyone's story is unique. Empathy is necessity when working with students who are struggling," said Eric Stoller, academic adviser and web coordinator at Oregon State University. Turn to the people who can help you -- campus officials, professors and even your parents. If you don't win the appeal, make a personal appeal. And consider involving your parents. Yes, they will be surprised, but once they see that you are taking responsibility, they will help you.

You WILL get through this, and over time, you will see it as a gift in the future.

Dear Harlan,

I happened to glance through the "Help Me, Harlan" section of the paper, and was appalled when I read your response to "Confused and Hurt's" letter.

Contrary to your comment, there is nothing "loving, monogamous or adoring" about men who allow pornography to enter into their marriage. Marriage is between one man and one woman -- not one man and multiple women. Our society has normalized all this to ward off the guilt associated with it, and then we wonder why so many marriages are failing.

From both personal experience and documented research, the most important thing to most men is respect. There is nothing to respect in a man that lacks the self-control and selfishly indulges himself in self-destructive behavior that hurts both his wife and, without realizing it, himself.

Don't contribute to an already self-destructive society that is fueling destructive marriage.

Kristy

Dear Kristy,

Thanks for the note. Sorry to appall you. Some people think marriage is between a man and woman. Some people think it's between a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

When it comes to porn in marriage, I believe it's a couple's personal choice. What breaks up marriage is contempt, a lack of communication and unforeseen circumstances. Not porn.

Harlan is the author of "The Happiest Kid On Campus: A Parent's Guide to the Very Best College Experience (for You and Your Child)" (Sourcebooks). Write Harlan at harlan@helpmeharlan.com or visit online: www.helpmeharlan.com. All letters submitted become property of the author. Send paper to Help Me, Harlan! 2506 N. Clark St., Ste. 223, Chicago, IL 60614.

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