How can I counsel my son? He’s a freshman ROTC cadet at a very selective and expensive university. He had an enjoyable and successful first semester. GPA is fine (3.3), and he enthusiastically participated in battalion extra-circulars like color guard and some “public appearance” outings. So imagine our surprise when he hinted through "hypotheticals" and “what ifs” that he may drop out of ROTC. We’ve asked what he means when says he “might” or he “can” drop out without penalty before the upcoming Fall. But, he's unable to articulate how seriously he's considering it. In 2 conversations all he said was, "I don't know. Let's talk later." So, we've dropped it for now. With savings and current income, we are blessed that the financial aspect of ROTC need not be a factor in his decision. Sure, if he gave up ROTC he'd have to take out Staffords, then work full-time in the summer and part-time during the school year. But that's normal for college kids. One could hardly say he'd be facing a hardship. We are reluctant to press him on his delimma because a) he has 6+ months to decide, and b) he's got a lot of things going on right now that may be in the way of thinking clearly. These are: - illness (he's had broncitis for 2 weeks and really feels crummy), - an upcoming court appearance for a misdemeanor (this will probably result in community service and some sort of paperwork/discipline wtih the PMS before his public record is expunged), - fraternity rush. (He's likely to join the frat that attracts the most cadets. But then again, he says maybe not.) - 18 credits (4 classes + the ROTC class) Based on nothing but hunches, his dad and I think he's just overwhelmed mentally and physically and has realized the ROTC honeymoon is over. We wonder if he sees dropping out as a way to lighten his load at school. And this leads us to wonder if he realizes that dropping ROTC just means assuming a whole new set of obligations: loans and jobs. If asked, our opinion would be that the ROTC path through college offers more freedom and security than the loans-and-always-working path. But ROTC is more than just college, isn't it? His choice needs to be based on whether he wants to serve after he gets that degree. And I think that's where his conflict lies. We think he wants to serve. In fact one of his "what if scenarios" was "what if I drop ROTC and then enlist after college?" Good grief. This is the last thing this mother would want. No, strike that. Dropping out of college to enlist would be worse. But you get what I mean. This kid is really conflicted. So, if he were your son, how would you help him come to a decision? We really don't want to push him toward sticking with ROTC. But we don't want him to think the other grass is any greener, either. Thanks.