Saturday, February 09, 2013

A Rant About Over-Scheduled Teens

We've researched and found that if we enroll our son in driver's ed school we will save a lot of money annually on car insurance. The cheapest package is $499.

Getting a driver's license in Texas is more complicated than it was in Connecticut (or maybe the rules changed and I did not know it). I am surprised at the amount of hoop jumping we have to go through.

The driver's ed company offers an online video course or in person lectures. There are 32 in person lectures to attend versus 16 online lessons. Due to convenience and his busy schedule, my son has chosen the online lessons. Once we enroll him into the school he has 90 days to finish the course. But it's not that simple. Day one, you pay and enroll in the course. Then the student watches the first three lessons and takes an online test for the driver's permit. Once that permit test is passed you appear in person at the government office, present proof of identity, and take a vision test. If passed, the permit is issued.

Then the student must complete the online lessons within that initial 90 days. In the meantime, the student takes driving lessons with the school (seven hours) and does more driving with parents.

After the lessons are finished, and when the 90 days is up, the student keeps studying and driving with parents for a total of six full months from the date the permit was issued. After that point the teen appears in person to take the driver's test at the government office.

Once the teen passes and is granted a license, the parents add the teen onto their car insurance policy.

We also save 20% of the cost of the insurance if our son has a 3.0 GPA. So much for homeschoolers not needing to grade their students. I am going to have to write a transcript with grades.

A tricky part of this is that due to the student's life schedule it may be hard to get all the courses completed in 90 days. For example, when my son is gone for 2.5 weeks in a one month period this summer, that would not be a good time to take the course. Crunch weeks for robotics team and the heavy regatta season for varsity rowing are also not good times.

My son is pushing to get his license as soon as he turns 16 which is exactly six months from today. He wants us to start the course tonight.

My son is going to have to mature and show responsibility in order to buckle down and complete the $499 course in 90 days plus juggle his academic courseload and maintain a 3.0 average. Since he is struggling in chemistry, and his tutor went away to college this semester, he struggled without that extra help. We just hired a new chem tutor yesterday which should help. However he will have to keep up his end of the work such as finally buckling down to memorize chem terms and laws and other memorization work that he has either outright refused to do or slacked off and not studied adequately enough. Until he can get an 80 on a test, we will not pay to enroll him in that driver's ed course. (His last two test scores were a 60 and a 70.) We have not told our son of this yet, we anticipate he'll be angry about it. He is in a phase of thinking the world owes him everything and any conditions we put on things are cruel and stupid. I would not be surprised if he goes into a rage when he hears our conditions.

I would also like him to pay for his own driver's ed course as it may help him take responsibility and finish that course in the 90 day limit, but he has barely any money, and has no time to work a job to earn the money. We want him to pay for his own car insurance. He does want a job, but realizes that doing a varsity sport, robotics team, and the few hours he spends on Boy Scouts, plus academic work, leaves him no time for a job. The travel schedule for the regattas and the robotics team means he does not even have regular available time on Friday nights, Saturdays, or Sundays. Perhaps he can find a small part time job in July after his Boy Scout trips are over so he can start saving up to pay for car insurance, and he could juggle and work that job through the end of the year, until robotics team starts up again.

I am really torn about this issue of hoping my kids can have a real part time job as teens yet wanting them to be able to do the team sport they love plus do enriching academic extra-curriculars like FIRST Robotics and finishing his Eagle project for Boy Scouts. How are these kids supposed to do it all? It seems like a rat race. Our society does not have moderation or balance as a goal to strive for. Everything the kids do is intense and they want to do multiple things, and society wants them to do multiple things. Doing just one thing well is not thought to be good enough for this generation of kids. It was fine for my generation but now kids are supposed to ace their academics, do a sport and be in good physical shape, do at least one extra-curricular in arts or academics, do community service, and maybe even hold down a real part time job. I don't see how it can all be accomplished.


Deborah said...

In Texas you can do Parent Taught $20 and then either buy a curriculum ($75 up last time we checked) or do your own. The GPA doesn't require an actual transcript, just a letter from the school (you) saying that your son has a 3.0 GPA. (This is an odd requirement even for non homeschoolers because GPA's vary widely depending on school district and location.) My son did driver's ed for $300...I guess things are more expensive in the Big City...we did have to drive 40 miles to class so I guess we paid the difference in gas money.
Shortly after finishing that he bought a car and the insurance company advised us to add his car to our policy and list us all as drivers for both cars...the additional insurance cost was less than $400 per year from USAA. Our kids have all had jobs of one kind an another since they were "old enough". I have told them that in my opinion jobs should be the lowest is the top, personal growth second (intellectual and social), job last. I expect my kids to pay for gasoline and car parts and "extras" (like orders from the Asian Grocer and soaps from Etsy.). I'd like them to save some portion of their money, although I don't say how much. (So far, one over saves and two over spend.) I don't expect them to pay for big ticket items like tuition and car insurance. I don't expect them to comply with ridiculous really will not make a difference in the long run. I have a kid who really ought to go to art school, but SATs and sports and community service won't get her there. She's already shown that she has the intelligence and talent...what she needs is money. And that is in short supply for those of us who used to be middle class's getting to the point that college debt can be impossible to pay off.

Karen Kup said...

We did parent taught driving.
No sweat.
Study the manual for the permit test, take the test, drive on permit for 6 months, take road test. Done. There is a bit of paperwork and a few logs that no one actually looks at but it is nowhere near $500 worth of your time.

ChristineMM said...

The driver's insurance for a teen boy is so expensive that the 10% savings for taking an official class pays for itself fairly quickly. It is financially worth the cost.

Karen Kup said...

A $50 online class offered by our insurance company qualified jack for that 10% discount.