18-Year-Old Male: College/Disability/Private School
Listen when Elijah shares how he discovered a disability in his first year of college
In this episode of A Teen’s Perspective, host Dr. RJ Jackson welcomes Elijah, an 18-year-old math major at UT. Elijah begins the conversation by describing his rather unconventional upbringing. His mom raised him on her own for the first five years of his life, and when she got pregnant with his sister, his mom and dad finally got married. Elijah remembers, at the age of five, his parents driving to the courthouse, and the box of cookies the judge gave him. That box of cookies turned into a piggy bank, which Elijah kept for years. Since then, his parents have raised him in a loving, Christian environment, and their family is very close.
Elijah graduated from high school last year. He recalls that he was both nervous and excited when he changed schools from middle to high school. His private middle school was very
small, with only six students in his eighth grade class. This school accommodated part-time homeschooling; Elijah spent three days a week at school and two days a week at home. Elijah
recommends part-time homeschooling, because his parents could be co-teachers and active in his education. Homeschooling, he says, also gives kids the opportunity to participate in
more extracurricular activities and take charge of their education. For high school, Elijah transitioned to a slightly bigger school, though there were only 36 people in his graduating
class. He became a full-time homeschool student for his senior year, mostly for financial reasons, and ended up taking dual credit classes at a community college. Elijah believes that
being part of a small Christian school taught him to get along with everyone and be more friendly, because everybody knew everybody, and he couldn’t pick and choose his friends.
Next, RJ and Elijah discuss the teenage rebellious phase, which Elijah says he didn’t personally experience, though he saw his friends go through it. He believes that teenagers
often need to feel autonomous, because they are almost adults but feel controlled by their parents. Elijah points out that this can feel claustrophobic. He saw his friends act out by
secretly dating or doing drugs. He, on the other hand, was not allowed to be around friends who did drugs, and therefore was pretty well-behaved in high school.
Elijah discovered his love for math in eighth grade when he attended a math summer camp. Most of his life, he had loved science but not really enjoyed math. However, the camp showed
him that there was much more depth to math than he’d ever known, and that it involved a lot of creative thinking. The camp completely changed his perspective on math, and he has
participated every summer since. Elijah is even considering working as the head counselor this summer. He believes that a big part of why he enjoyed the camp so much was that the
kids who were there wanted to be there and wanted to learn. An excited student body has a big impact on creating an enjoyable learning experience, something that he also believes
positively contributes to a private school education.
Since he began attending UT in the fall, Elijah has run into several challenges, including the discovery that he had undiagnosed ADHD. He took the hardest math class available to
freshmen, and failed the first two tests because he wasn’t able to finish them on time. Thankfully, he was able to retake the second test with a disability allowance, and has since
been able to improve his grades in the class. Elijah also experienced culture shock in attending a school of 50,000 students, but he attended Camp Texas a few weeks before the
school year, and says that it helped him immensely. Camp Texas is a three-day camp in August in which you are split into groups of seven, and spend time playing games and
getting to know each other. This helped Elijah’s transition to college life, and he recommends the camp to any incoming UT students. Elijah is not sure of his plans post-college, but is
considering attending either medical school or graduate school for math.
Elijah ends the episode by providing advice for parents with teenagers. He says that his parents created a healthy, loving family environment by making their number priority to
keep their marriage vows. They also value conflict resolution over all else, and Elijah believes that lots of communication is important to making an encouraging family environment. He
also points out that if a teenager is acting out, there’s probably a reason, and that parental communication is more important than adding another punishment. Elijah also suggests
encouraging your teenager to find something they really love, and helping them excel at it.
If you are interested in learning how to coach your teen, visit coachyourteen.com