The positive result of Reilly's recent “break” from school was that I had a chance to have a long talk with his counselor at NYIT about how he is doing in general and what our next steps might be.
While the Vocational Independence Program  has been a productive experience for Reilly, we were wondering if he is outgrowing it, and what comes next. We were concerned that he might be “spinning his wheels,” getting too comfortable and not making progress toward a life plan.
Happily, my conversation and subsequent email communication with Erin, his counselor, have given me confidence that we/they are on the right path, moving forward.
I told Erin we weren't certain if staying in the VIP program another semester would be productive and the best use of our resources. We don't know if Reilly can (or needs to) complete a four-year degree, or whether it would be worth the price tag in any event. If we got him trained for a job, we could use the money we would spend on tuition to help him with living expenses. Erin argued that academics is one of Reilly's strong points. He's taking two college-credit classes this semester, and many of his peers aren't able to do that. So maybe we shouldn't give up on college just yet.
Reilly's personal goal is to work as an equipment manager for an NFL football team. It's not as crazy as it sounds. A few years ago, his goal was to be a football player at the University of Hawaii and then get drafted into the NFL. We pointed out the unlikelihood of that happening, since he doesn't actually play football, though watching it is an obsession. He reconsidered his career goals and thought maybe he should be a team owner. If only he had a spare billion to buy a team. But he was lucky enough to spend two summers interning at the Washington Redskins Training Camp—his idea of heaven! Interns work under the team's equipment manager, doing things like folding towels and collecting practice uniforms and equipment when the team comes off the field. Reilly also got to operate a machine that snaps the ball for the kickers at practice. One day he got to drive a golf cart around the field, picking up players and returning them to the locker room.
So a sports equipment manager or assistant might be doable, right up his alley. Even if he can't work in the NFL, there are likely other sports facilities or recreation programs that might be a good fit for him. We visited a school in Connecticut that has a sports management program, which, if he could complete it, would be useful for getting a job in the field. The question is whether Reilly is ready for that, and whether he can handle a full course load. The jury is still out.
Meanwhile, Erin said the academic director at VIP had found a Principles of Management course Reilly could take next semester at NYIT. They are working on getting him an internship in the school's athletic facility, which could give him good hands-on experience. Some very positive steps.
For his part, Reilly agreed that he needed to work on some personal goals: hygiene, organizing his schoolwork better, improving his “reciprocal conversation skills.” Probably good things for most college-age boys to be working on! So now the question is whether to focus on the school in Connecticut, work on next steps at NYIT, or both. Oh, and of course getting everyone home for Thanksgiving and preparing for the holidays. Always plenty of items on the “to do” list!
But it was nice to hear that NYIT is working on a Reilly-specific plan, to help him take the next step. We're not alone. We're not wasting time and resources. Good to know.