My daughter wants to give up on a prestigious university degree

My 21-year-old daughter is currently studying in a university overseas. She managed to enter a prestigious course that is difficult to get into and we were all very happy when she got selected. She is now in her third year of the course with one more year to go before she graduates. During her holidays, she came back home and shared that she did not want to continue her studies. She said she realised that she had no interest in this course and cannot see herself going further. We were shocked. We tried to reason with her and persuade her to finish what she began, pointing out that she would end up with no degree and would have to start from scratch again. She refuses to listen and feels that we are pressuring her because we have paid so much for her overseas education and do not want our money wasted, rather than caring for what she feels. We are also worried that she will regret her decision later. After all, she wanted to do this course. What should we do?

Oxbridge blues

At The Well

Ai Jin says

Dear Oxbridge blues,

Your daughter’s decision not to continue her studies into the last year is unexpected and heartbreaking for you. It is understandable that spending three years of studies at a prestigious college and not completing the last year itself is befuddling for any parent. But when did your daughter start changing her mind about the course? Could she have persevered and tried her best for a long time already, or could there have been deeper struggles which she was not willing to share with you?

Keeping her and the relationship in focus, let her know that you truly want to

understand her and to see things from her point of view. Would she be willing to have a conversation to help you understand how she arrived at this decision? It would also help you if she could share what her thoughts are about leaving without a degree, if she had thought about how that might impact her career pathway as well as her future plans, if any? What are her thoughts for you and how does she feel about the financial resources that have been put into her studies? While this conversation may not lead to a change in outcomes, it can help you come closer to accepting her decision with more empathy. At the end of this, perhaps you may be able to persuade her to consult a third party to process her thoughts independently of you.

May you entrust your daughter’s plans and future to God and remember his promises in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”