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Old 09-24-2012, 04:58 PM   #1
Patio
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DS struggling at college- need advice

My DS is really struggling with college. He's in a big city, 2 hrs away, and his best friend is his roommate. His other good friend is also there, they seem to love their classes and being there. DS is unsure on a major and is finding the adjustment very difficult. He feels all alone because they love it there and he doesn't. He doesn't know how to study as high school came so easy to him, hates not being home and doesn't enjoy the classes he's taking. He went in undecided. I made him promise me he'd speak to his advisor before he makes any decisions. I want him to at least finish out the semester. Any advice?
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Last edited by Patio; 09-29-2012 at 11:38 AM. Reason: put update page 3 in title
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:18 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Patio View Post
My DS is really struggling with college. He's in a big city, 2 hrs away, and his best friend is his roommate. His other good friend is also there, they seem to love their classes and being there. DS is unsure on a major and is finding the adjustment very difficult. He feels all alone because they love it there and he doesn't. He doesn't know how to study as high school came so easy to him, hates not being home and doesn't enjoy the classes he's taking. He went in undecided. I made him promise me he'd speak to his advisor before he makes any decisions. I want him to at least finish out the semester. Any advice?
Is he involved in anything? Clubs, athletics (school sponsored or intramural), organizations? Does he go out with his friends? I agree he should at least finish the semester. Encourage him to find some kind of activity he likes and spend time doing that.
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patio View Post
My DS is really struggling with college. He's in a big city, 2 hrs away, and his best friend is his roommate. His other good friend is also there, they seem to love their classes and being there. DS is unsure on a major and is finding the adjustment very difficult. He feels all alone because they love it there and he doesn't. He doesn't know how to study as high school came so easy to him, hates not being home and doesn't enjoy the classes he's taking. He went in undecided. I made him promise me he'd speak to his advisor before he makes any decisions. I want him to at least finish out the semester. Any advice?
Yes, tell him to finish the semester and maybe even year. I knew many people whose freshman year were horrible, and then somehow they did get adjusted.

Like the PP said, are there any clubs that would remotely interest him?
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:21 PM   #4
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No matter what, try to get him to last the semester. It's just going to take him awhile to find his groove. This *may* NOT be the college for him, but he needs to give it the semester. Two weeks is not long enough to know for sure. He needs to relax, adjust to his new lifestyle, and get used to his classes. After the semester ends, see how he feels.

I don't think his reaction is unusual but I think the worst thing you can do is let him leave. I would only do this under extenuating circumstances.
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:29 PM   #5
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Tell him to work on fiinding some new friends. He needs to branch out beyond the high school buddies who love it. There are lots of unsure freshman who aren't wild about their classes. He needs to find some of those peole so he realizes his situation is normal. Plus, he will hopefully have some fun with the new friends.
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Patio View Post
My DS is really struggling with college. He's in a big city, 2 hrs away, and his best friend is his roommate. His other good friend is also there, they seem to love their classes and being there. DS is unsure on a major and is finding the adjustment very difficult. He feels all alone because they love it there and he doesn't. He doesn't know how to study as high school came so easy to him, hates not being home and doesn't enjoy the classes he's taking. He went in undecided. I made him promise me he'd speak to his advisor before he makes any decisions. I want him to at least finish out the semester. Any advice?
What are his grades like? Do you know if he is failing the classes right now?

Make sure you hunker down and read all the deadlne dates of withdraw, esp. the money part.

Hate is pretty strong and being undecided makes it harder. I have to say if he is getting F's or D's pull him out.
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:33 PM   #7
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OP, it sounds from your post as if your DS is a freshman who just started college this year. If so, I have three pieces of advice:

1. There is absolutely no reason on God's green earth that he has to be thinking about a major now. If it was second semester of his junior year, then this would be a different story, but not for a first semester freshman. The only thing that picking a major this early can do is screw you up when (not if, in my experience for most college students it's a when) you change it later. I can count on one hand the people I know who picked a major that early and stuck with it, and half of those people only stuck it out because they felt they had to.

2. A lot of freshmen find the first semester hard. I didn't, but I knew a lot of people who did. My dorm room was a bit of a haven for all my friends who were struggling with issues similar to your son's. A lot of us get to college not knowing how to study or balance our time, because we've never had to do those things before. Most of us pick it up before the end of the first year. It just takes a little getting used to.

3. Extra-curriculars. College is not about academics. Yes, I know that's counter-intuitive. It is also, obviously, about academics. But in my estimation the most important aspect is about finding out who you are and who your friends are now that you're an adult. It's about finding out that the people you thought would always be your friends in high school are on a slow spiraling path towards Facebook acquaintances. If it really were only about getting a good paying job, then everyone would be best served by starting work right out of high school (perhaps combining that with community college). We send our children away to school so that they learn to function outside their comfort zone, so that they meet people outside their social circle, and so that they try something totally new. Suggest that he involve himself in something (anything) outside classes. Heck, if I were an incoming freshman these days I would totally join the local quidditch team! As it was, I chose to try fencing. It was a decision that changed my life and shaped pretty much everything about me today.
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:39 PM   #8
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My sons both had rough freshman years at college. In fact, neither stayed at the college they started at. If they had gotten involved in college activities, they might have stayed. Odd - they both ended up at the same college, 3 hours from home where a lot of local students went.

It's interesting that his friends appear to be comfortable. The "studying" thing would concern me. He should see his advisor right away. He should stay through the semester, if at all possible.
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:58 PM   #9
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....Any advice?
No advice, Patio; just wanted to say hello, great to see you.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patio View Post
My DS is really struggling with college. He's in a big city, 2 hrs away, and his best friend is his roommate. His other good friend is also there, they seem to love their classes and being there. DS is unsure on a major and is finding the adjustment very difficult. He feels all alone because they love it there and he doesn't. He doesn't know how to study as high school came so easy to him, hates not being home and doesn't enjoy the classes he's taking. He went in undecided. I made him promise me he'd speak to his advisor before he makes any decisions. I want him to at least finish out the semester. Any advice?
The first semester is rough on many kids. Especially if it is the first time away, on their own.
Encourage him to see an advisor, to join 1 club, to find one interest that he can share with others of like interest.
Most of all, let him know it is perfectly normal to not be thrilled about the first semester....for many the "build up and hype " by some that think it is "oh so great to be independent" does not feel the same to others.
he is NOT alone, and I would really just be there to "listen" to what he says...is it loneliness? Loss of interest in school, is he eating (can you check his account to see that he is?)
I would then be in contact with him every other evening...I think that if you say "just make it thru the semester, he will, but it also gives him a way to justify how he feels rather than STRIVE to change it up, KWIM?
I hope that he can see that he WILL have a better time by Feeling better and again, seek to speak with someone...the undecided is not a big deal at all...My the pressure these freshman have, it takes time...think of it as an adventure to find something that "sticks", lol.
I wanna wish him (and you ) the very best of luck...I agree ....stick the semester....but let him know you expect that he will give it his all!
Now, if it seems that he is sliding....not eating, not attending class, doing poorly...I would re-evaluate and quick....there is no shame in asking for HELP, colleges understand, they want happy, healthy kids!
Hope youll let us know....Its not easy being a parent sometimes
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:03 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ZephyrHawk View Post
OP, it sounds from your post as if your DS is a freshman who just started college this year. If so, I have three pieces of advice:

1. There is absolutely no reason on God's green earth that he has to be thinking about a major now. If it was second semester of his junior year, then this would be a different story, but not for a first semester freshman. The only thing that picking a major this early can do is screw you up when (not if, in my experience for most college students it's a when) you change it later. I can count on one hand the people I know who picked a major that early and stuck with it, and half of those people only stuck it out because they felt they had to.

2. A lot of freshmen find the first semester hard. I didn't, but I knew a lot of people who did. My dorm room was a bit of a haven for all my friends who were struggling with issues similar to your son's. A lot of us get to college not knowing how to study or balance our time, because we've never had to do those things before. Most of us pick it up before the end of the first year. It just takes a little getting used to.

3. Extra-curriculars. College is not about academics. Yes, I know that's counter-intuitive. It is also, obviously, about academics. But in my estimation the most important aspect is about finding out who you are and who your friends are now that you're an adult. It's about finding out that the people you thought would always be your friends in high school are on a slow spiraling path towards Facebook acquaintances. If it really were only about getting a good paying job, then everyone would be best served by starting work right out of high school (perhaps combining that with community college). We send our children away to school so that they learn to function outside their comfort zone, so that they meet people outside their social circle, and so that they try something totally new. Suggest that he involve himself in something (anything) outside classes. Heck, if I were an incoming freshman these days I would totally join the local quidditch team! As it was, I chose to try fencing. It was a decision that changed my life and shaped pretty much everything about me today.
Just wanted to say AWESOME advice, and LOVE #3....my own started fencing this past summer and continues at college now
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:57 PM   #12
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Nothing new to add because the advise so far is dead on. We jokingly call our son a second year freshman. He changed majors, schools and states after his first year at college.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:25 PM   #13
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Thanks so much for all the advice, I'm gonna have him read these!!! And Dan, thank you for remembering me, it's been a long time, hope your family is doing well!
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZephyrHawk View Post
OP, it sounds from your post as if your DS is a freshman who just started college this year. If so, I have three pieces of advice:

1. There is absolutely no reason on God's green earth that he has to be thinking about a major now. If it was second semester of his junior year, then this would be a different story, but not for a first semester freshman. The only thing that picking a major this early can do is screw you up when (not if, in my experience for most college students it's a when) you change it later. I can count on one hand the people I know who picked a major that early and stuck with it, and half of those people only stuck it out because they felt they had to.

2. A lot of freshmen find the first semester hard. I didn't, but I knew a lot of people who did. My dorm room was a bit of a haven for all my friends who were struggling with issues similar to your son's. A lot of us get to college not knowing how to study or balance our time, because we've never had to do those things before. Most of us pick it up before the end of the first year. It just takes a little getting used to.

3. Extra-curriculars. College is not about academics. Yes, I know that's counter-intuitive. It is also, obviously, about academics. But in my estimation the most important aspect is about finding out who you are and who your friends are now that you're an adult. It's about finding out that the people you thought would always be your friends in high school are on a slow spiraling path towards Facebook acquaintances. If it really were only about getting a good paying job, then everyone would be best served by starting work right out of high school (perhaps combining that with community college). We send our children away to school so that they learn to function outside their comfort zone, so that they meet people outside their social circle, and so that they try something totally new. Suggest that he involve himself in something (anything) outside classes. Heck, if I were an incoming freshman these days I would totally join the local quidditch team! As it was, I chose to try fencing. It was a decision that changed my life and shaped pretty much everything about me today.
I work at a University and I wanted to say this is great advice and almost exactly what I tell my students - don't stress about a major, work on building academic skills and find something that you enjoy doing and you will find that you will probably enjoy hanging out with others who enjoy doing that same thing. Joining at least one club or student organization is really important.

In addition to this I would also encourage your son to check out the Learning Center or Tutoring Center on his campus for help with his classes. Many students struggle with studying when they first get to college and so there are probably people on his campus whose job it is to help those students figure out new strategies. Those same people can also provide him with an adult connection to his school which some struggling students find to be extremely helpful.

I hope this helps.
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:14 PM   #15
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Tell him to take it one day at a time.

At the end of every day, he should ask himself: did I do what I needed to do for my classes today? Did I do something to help myself socially today? (maybe he sees the same kid on the way to class every day, say hello!)

Get through today, then worry about tomorrow.
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