DS struggling at college- need advice

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by Patio, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Patio

    Patio DIS Veteran

    Jan 27, 2001
    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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  3. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon DIS Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    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.
  4. pigletgirl

    pigletgirl Mama to my Minnie Mouse lovin' girl!

    Jun 11, 2006
    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?
  5. Christine

    Christine Would love to be able to sit on

    Aug 31, 1999
    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.
  6. padams

    padams <font color=darkorchid>Hey, I've never posted on a

    Feb 9, 2001
    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.
  7. The Mystery Machine

    The Mystery Machine Sunrise at my house. :+)

    Jan 4, 2001
    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.
  8. ZephyrHawk

    ZephyrHawk Confirmed Disneyphile

    Feb 15, 2007
    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.
  9. minniecarousel

    minniecarousel Chris Isaak fan

    Jul 13, 2000
    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.
  10. Dan Murphy

    Dan Murphy We are family.

    Apr 20, 2000
    No advice, Patio; just wanted to say hello, great to see you.
  11. a1tinkfans

    a1tinkfans Spreading Some Pixie Dust Today!

    Aug 12, 2006
    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 :hug:
  12. a1tinkfans

    a1tinkfans Spreading Some Pixie Dust Today!

    Aug 12, 2006
    Just wanted to say AWESOME advice, and LOVE #3....my own started fencing this past summer and continues at college now :)
  13. shelwoj

    shelwoj Mouseketeer

    Feb 13, 2006
    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.
  14. Patio

    Patio DIS Veteran

    Jan 27, 2001
    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!:goodvibes
  15. PenguinWaiters

    PenguinWaiters DIS Veteran

    Jul 11, 2006
    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.
  16. Erin1700

    Erin1700 <font color=purple>At least I am bragging about us

    Nov 12, 2006
    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.
  17. loricdietzel

    loricdietzel Mouseketeer

    Jun 1, 2012
    I definitely agree he needs to stick it out for the semester if not the year. He may find second semester to be a lot better after he has the break in between since he will go back knowing what to expect. I know there have been several times where I have hated something and couldn't adjust, had a short break, and then had a totally different experience (a great experience) when I returned.

    I also think he needs to realize that college is different than high school and there are many more people where he is now. While it is great to maintain relationships with his high school buddies who are there, it is crucial that he seeks out new friends. People change in college and I think when you are around people from high school it is easy to try to hold on to what was and you just can't as it won't be the same even if you want it to. Trying to hold on to that will just lead to depression and adjustment issues. I agree with trying to get involved in one activity and seek out things that may interest him. Usually dorms have activities that are just fun and not a commitment. Those are great ways to meet people. In college, there are lots of people looking for new friends, they just don't advertise it. So tell him not to be shy and go to something and just start chatting with someone new.
  18. clm10308

    clm10308 DIS Veteran

    Jun 23, 2010
    It sounds like you have gotten a lot of good advice. It all seems to fit with what I remember of my Freshman year (a log time ago). I remember being very lonely my first semester and came home almost every weekend. After I joined a campus spirit group 2nd semester, I made a lot of friends and didn't come home until spring break.

    The only thing I would add would be to maybe go visit him for a weekend. Attend a football game together and/or find some interesting places to visit in the city. Or let him come home for some weekends. That way he would have something to look forward to during the week.
  19. eliza61

    eliza61 DIS Veteran

    Jun 2, 2003
    Oy vey op, can I relate. My freshman year was a bust. first of all I had just moved from NYC to go to school in Pittsburgh and back then Pittsburgh was not the city it is today. It was a small steel mill town. so I had to make the adjustment to small town living. Next, I only knew one other person so that was hard. Luckily my roommate and I totally hit it off.
    My first term I got 2C's and 2C-'s which effectively put me on probation.

    It takes a while to get your groove going. I would take the advice of previous posters, encourage him to hang in there for the entire year, go see his advisors, seek out activities that interest him. Nowadays colleges have a group for darn near every possible hobby.

    I wouldn't worry about a major right now, when I started all I knew more of what I didn't want to do then what I did want to do.
  20. cornflake

    cornflake DIS Veteran

    Jul 31, 2011
    Agree there's no reason to even be thinking about a major at this point.

    I mean if someone knows what they want, has a strong interest and whatever, fine, cool, focus on it.

    Plenty of people USE college to explore different areas they haven't been able to, been exposed to, had an opportunity to try out, and that's a big part of a liberal arts education.

    My advice would be to look through the course catalog for next semester and NOT take only core requirements. I'm a big proponent of taking at least one ridiculous class a semester - sounds like your son needs a semester of two or three of them.

    Ridiculous classes, to me, are ones that you don't "need," and wouldn't normally think of taking, but that sound fun and interesting.

    Take an art class. It doesn't have to involve drawing if he can't draw. I took 3D art, photography and a host of other unusual art classes in college - just because they sounded interesting. I enjoyed every one. Some I really, really enjoyed. The 3D was one of my favourites.

    Take a theatre class - technical or acting. Take a class in something academic that sounds interesting - some period in history or psychology or philosophy or science. Take a phys ed - most colleges have interesting fun ones that are only a credit. Try Karate or something if he's never done it.

    Most of the classes will fit in a core under the 'three credits of X type' requirements, and it's a way to find what interests him, meet different people, have some fun (college isn't high school - take advantage!)

    I agree with the above clubs, extra curricular thing but I think he also needs to see that college itself, the academic aspect, can be an awesome, fun, different growth experience. It isn't just a slog of Comp 101-type classes. Yes, he needs that stuff but mix it up and find what's interesting. It may be something he'd never have expected or tried, that he'll find he absolutely loves.
  21. Phlip

    Phlip Mouseketeer

    Jul 7, 2010
    Add me to the fan club..awesome advice, exactly what I would say.:thumbsup2.
    Good luck to your DS, OP.

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