DS struggling at college- need advice

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

  1. castleview

    castleview <font color=blue>I'm on my 103rd attempt to grown

    Mar 4, 2004
    I'd say give it a year. I hated school the first semester and by the end of the year I loved it.
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  3. Feckless

    Feckless DIS Veteran

    Jan 25, 2011
    I remember the first semester of my professional degree in a major university far from home I was sitting in a class, thinking that I was completely pretending to belong there, that everyone else had everything figured out, they were all so much smarter than I was, that they made a mistake letting me in... It was Canadian Thanksgiving that weekend (so, around this time of year), and the Associate Dean was teaching the class. She stood up and said, "Before I start, I just want you all to know that most of the people in this class probably think that everyone else is smarter than they are, and that the school made a huge mistake letting you in. Well, it's not true. Stick with it. It will all come together and start to make sense to you, and you are NOT the only one who feels like that." Then she started the class. I felt like someone slapped me! It was really something... And she was right - after the first semester, I started realizing that I DID belong there. I was now a small fish in a big pond, and that was a big change, but it didn't mean that I wasn't going to succeed there.

    Tell your son that I can GUARANTEE him that regardless of what anyone is saying or acting most kids there are also finding their ways. Once he realizes that he isn't alone, he will be OK. If he doesn't stick it out, and figure out FOR REAL whether that school is for him, he will regret it forever.

    All the best to him!
  4. NHdisneylover

    NHdisneylover DIS Veteran

    Feb 26, 2007
    I think Zephyrhawk's advice is spot on:thumbsup2

    I will add, there is a reason most summer camps do not allow internet or phone access between campers and parents and no visits the first 3 or 4 weeks if it is a FULL summer camp. Most often, talking to parents only makes the kids MORE homesick and prevents them from putting down roots and getting comfortable where they are.
    I think it works similarly even with college aged teens and young adults. I would try to limit talking to him online or on the phone to no more than one or two fairly short calls per week (be too busy to talk or answer if you have to be) and only short and cheery emails an facebook messages.

    Likewise, plan 1 or 2 weekend visits home (mid October and Thanksgiving perhaps) and otherwise have him stay on campus for the weekends. That is when he will build friendships and start to feel more at home. If he is coming "home" often then campus will always feel like a hotel room and a temporary spot to get out of quickly.

    Maybe, also, plan ONE weekend when you go up and get a hotel room and visit him. I'd go just for one night so as not to monopolize the weekend and let him know you;l take him to dinner and to Target for things he needs, etc but that you are expecting him to plan what to do, where to eat, etc--you want him to show you around his new home. Maybe he'll look at things differently if he is looking at what is good to show people, etc.
  5. Swan4Me

    Swan4Me DIS Veteran

    Mar 28, 2011
    :thumbsup2 Great advice

    In my Freshman year I "had " to take Architectural Drawing-i was so not into it-but found it challenging and I ended up with a decent grade
    Ironically, when i finished college-this ONE class was my ticket to my first job(back in the olden days when drawings were still hand drawn-now its all computers)
  6. ZephyrHawk

    ZephyrHawk Confirmed Disneyphile

    Feb 15, 2007

    The most ridiculous class I ever took was a 1 credit class analyzing The Lord of the Rings. My friends are still jealous I managed to fit that into my schedule. They all wanted to do it too.
  7. Tinker'n'Fun

    Tinker'n'Fun <font color=purple>"apple", peaches, "pumpkin pie"

    Mar 27, 2005
    Lots of great advice. My daughter struggled and we asked her to stay for the semester first, then for the entire year second. She slowly adjusted.

    Yes to crazy classes. My daughter's turn around classes were The History of Rock and Roll, Exploring small business (it was a class where they went to eat at all the popular places in the area of the school, she had some great food and made some great friends and got an easy A and an extra few pounds), and last but not least she took Polish. She will now have a minor in it. Loved the teacher, they clicked. I think one more language is in her future.

    OP you still need to make sure to look at the signs. All the advice in the world is not going to help if your son really is struggling to the point of depression and or worse.

    Good luck, prayers for all of you.
  8. pumpkinmomma

    pumpkinmomma DIS Veteran

    Jan 31, 2012
    Even if he is failing, he should not withdraw from his classes until he talks to his professors, academic advisory, and financial aid if he receives aid of any kind. The rules have changed a bit and withdrawing from a bunch of classes can impact your ability to get aid in the future and also you may end up owing the college money. If he is considering dropping out, he needs to talk to an advisor first.

    I would encourage him to stick out the semester and go from there.
  9. mjkacmom

    mjkacmom DIS Veteran

    Feb 20, 2006
    I went away to college without a car, and my parents were not going to pick me up! I made great friends right away (met some at orientation), and 25 years later, still have them. However, I too was used to coasting in HS, and my first semester GPA was 2.8! I spend the rest of college bringing that up to a 3.4.

    Most of the courses that first semester were assigned to me - 8 and 9 am, which was rough (especially since I had to freedom to miss if I wanted - lol). Things got much better each semester, when I could choose interesting classes, and the times.
  10. cabanafrau

    cabanafrau DIS Veteran

    May 10, 2006
    There is a lot of great information here, but I didn't see any mention of these & I think they may be helpful also. Is he doing anything physical at all? We had been worried that DD would struggle in college when she broke away from her normal routine of dance classes. Fortunately she's been doing lots of biking/walking to class, plus playing some volleyball, frisbee & dancing w/ friends. Once her schedule is a bit more under control she plans to seek out Pilates, Yoga and Zumba. Level of physical activity makes a big difference in many ways & may make your son feel better.

    DD has already participated in one community service project w/ the engineering department, had fun doing it & met some really interesting people. She's in a residential engineering program, as are the kids in her dorm, but she's the only one on her floor who did the event & she's so glad she did. She wound up talking quite a bit w/ a woman who runs many of the programs within the engineering department & hopes that connection may help her open doors to a paid research position sooner rather than later -- a completely unexpected bonus she never considered when she agreed to work the project. She also wound up working for a while w/ a girl from Brazil who interestingly enough also spoke some Mandarin, among many other languages, the same as DD has for the past six years. They had so much fun they plan to get together for some social stuff soon and plan to keep in touch for other service opportunities w/ the department.

    Once your son starts making some connections to his new environment he may enjoy himself much more. Unfortunately going in & rooming w/ HS friends may have been as much curse as blessing for your son. I hope things work out well for him.
  11. Arielle22

    Arielle22 <font color=red>We have had spirits<br><font color

    Aug 6, 2000
    My niece went to college knowing what she wanted to major in. She took an elective in geology and loved it. She changed majors to geology and went on to get her Master as well. She met her long term boyfriend in a geology class so it is all working out for her.

    DD19 is a college freshman about 3.5 hours away (as far as she could go and still be in the state). OP, if I was in her shoes I would ask that she remain until at least semester's end.

    Perhaps your son can talk to his RA and see if the RA can make any suggestions to help him feel more at home.
  12. VickiVM

    VickiVM <font color=blue>Not above flirting with Tag Fairi

    May 3, 2001
    Ditto! Don't know what it is about fencing, but my freshman son also signed up for fencing and loves it. No prior experience required and he says he's getting quite a workout. And it was only $20 to join.
  13. kacaju

    kacaju DIS Veteran

    Mar 4, 2007
    aww...((HUGS)) being a college freshman mom myself..that would kill me. My dd made the dance team last spring..long before college started. She danced with them over the summer, so by the time we dropped her off she already had built in friends!! I agree with everyone, is he into any clubs or activities to keep busy?
  14. kamik86

    kamik86 DIS Veteran

    Apr 28, 2010
    A few things:

    If his friends have majors depending on the school that may be why they love many of their classes and he doesn't. Have him find out when he needs to have a major chosen to graduate on time. Some schools like mine because of co-op requirements we started classes for our major the first semester. You could be undecided all of freshman year but after that if you didn't have a major you probably wouldn't be out in time due to prereqs.

    If he doesn't need to choose a major for a while have him still think about what he is interested in and take classes towards the majors he thinks he may want to do (if he wants to major in accounting, psychology or biology and hasn't decided take early classes of those three) the reason for this is the worst classes of my entire time at college were some of those first year gen ed ones. The had nothing to do with what I was interested in... the writing class and economics were the worst.
  15. MrsPete

    MrsPete DIS Veteran

    Feb 24, 2002
    I don't necessarily agree with the idea that a major should be the last thing on his mind -- I mean, college is pretty expensive, and having him take classess randomly much means he will almost certainly need more than four years to complete his degree. However, the need for a decision should be tempered with his adjustment to college -- without both, he won't be successful long-term.

    Unfortunately, you probably have 4-6 weeks before he has to start thinking about registration for spring classes. Clearly, sticking to some basic classes that he'll need for any major is a good, safe choice.

    Regardless, the question should never be, "What should my major be?" Rather, the question should be, "For what career do I want to prepare?" Lots of majors are loads of fun to study . . . yet don't really lead to a job. A trip to the school's counseling center might be in order: They can give him some career aptitude tests, etc. that might help him consider what he really would like to do with his life.

    Next summer, see if he can find a job that'll give him a glimpse into whatever he thinks he wants to do as a career. Even if it pays less than another job, this could be more valuable to him in the long run.

    And try to help him understand that he's not the only one who feels this way. Other people just aren't admitting it. No one wants his college friends to think he's the slackard who is having trouble in classes, no one wants his college friends to think he doesn't know exactly what he plans to do in the future. But lots of freshmen are going through this very same, "What am I going to do with my life?" concern.

    I agree with those who say DON'T let him leave now. If he genuinely hates it, let him leave at the semester. If he leaves mid-way through, he may well decide that he was incapable and won't ever want to return to college -- even a different college, even when he's more ready. Fall break is probably coming up soon, and I assume he's coming home. That'd be a good time to talk about whether he should remain at this college or whether another one would be better suited to his needs.

    Not knowing how to study is very common. High school is all but fail-proof these days. An intelligent student can get by with paying attention in class and completing the assignments. In contast, in college a student must know how to read complicated texts, assimilate the material, and do well on the tests and papers -- without the teacher breaking things down into small bites with lots of reviews, as they do in high school. You can google study skills online and send him some articles to read. Encourage him to get a planner and schedule his reading /study time. Tell him that flash cards aren't just for elementary kids. Are study sessions or tutoring available for his hardest subjects? If not, encourage him to ask around and see if anyone else wants to start up a study group; he's not alone in this. If he's smart enough to get into college, he can figure this out -- it's mostly a matter of realizing that he needs to work at studying, then developing the self-discipline to follow through with it.
  16. trip

    trip family trip planner

    Aug 17, 1999
    Time management is sooo important in college. It is so easy to waste time when you are only in class 16-18 hours a week. Have him plan his week to include study time. It use to be said to study 2-3 hours for each hour spent in class.
  17. shortbun

    shortbun <font color=green>Peacenik<br><font color=purple><

    Aug 21, 1999
    No need to declare a major. If they force him, just have him choose some generic major. His classes are probably mostly non major classes right now anyway. Have him find a Frisbee Golf or other sport team-non NCAA, of course. Send him care packages of your family foods. I think bad food is one common cause of freshman stress. Are his friends partying and making him uncomfortable? Also and big cause of freshman blues-people partying all around and not wanting to participate. Is it too late for him to drop a class? Perhaps if he took a little of the academic stress off...he'd find the rest easier.
  18. *Fantasia*

    *Fantasia* <font color=royalblue>Nothing beats a nice clean-c

    Jun 3, 2000
    Just my thought...

    Maybe you either "feel" it or you don't??. Could it be the university itself? He isn't feeling it there? For example: I wouldn't want to stay at BC/YC because I have no desire of staying there, but would prefer to stay at WL and the Polynesian. Though BC/YC is a beautiful resort that sits next to Epcot, I just don't have that "feel" for it. Maybe it's not what he expected? Maybe he wants to try a different university, closer to home or a smaller university?

    Too much on his plate? I hear so many students take too much credit hours and they complain about not having enough time to study and do homework and it effects their grades. They under estimate how much work/reading there is at college level and everything goes very fast. A thick book of college Biology are done in 15 meetings or 30 meetings but shorter hours compared to a whole year of Biology in HS.

    Homesick... being away from what he is accustomed to?

    Not knowing the unknowns? ...and this can cause some anxiety.

    He needs to talk to the counselor and see what direction he needs to take.

    Maybe he is not ready to go to a big university? Some that just graduated from HS go straight to community college to save money, closer to home, and because they are not sure what direction they are going to, this is a small step to find out what they want to do in life.
  19. ZephyrHawk

    ZephyrHawk Confirmed Disneyphile

    Feb 15, 2007
    To a certain extent, I agree with this statement. It is important during Freshman year to take care of some of the classes which are required for all majors. Also, if you have some sort of idea of the general area of study you want to go into (for instance, "I want to be a scientist!" instead of "I want to study Immunology!") you can start focusing in those more general areas. However, I knew way too many folks who took a whole bunch of classes in their chosen field, then ended up changing that field and having to take a whole bunch more classes because the ones they originally took were completely useless. Their focus on a major early on actually resulted in them taking more classes. I knew one guy who started out in basic liberal arts, then switched to the engineering school (which is a major undertaking, by the way), and only then realized he was not really cut out to be an engineer, so he switched back and ended up studying environmental sciences. I knew another guy who was sure he would be a scientist and took all the basic Freshman intro-science courses. He's now a poet with a creative writing degree. Those people I know who went into college with no preconcieved notions about majors may have ended up taking a few more classes here and there than other more focused people, but they tended to end up with multiple majors (I have three myself) or minors as evidence of their extra work.
  20. cornflake

    cornflake DIS Veteran

    Jul 31, 2011
    This. Regardless of major, you will always need a passel of elective credits. No reason they can't be in something random.

    Also, as noted here, and in the post in which the poster's daughter randomly took a class in Polish and is now minoring in the language, people who try a bunch of things can often spend LESS time, because they find an actual interest, as opposed to trying to take all the classes to something it turns out they then don't want and having to start over.
  21. kamik86

    kamik86 DIS Veteran

    Apr 28, 2010
    Again you have to be careful of this... My undergrad degree had exactly 2 free elective classes. The rest of the electives were "pick from this list" type of things. So if you took just any random classes that weren't on the lists for even one quarter you would already be behind. Even classes like Math that you would think everyone takes could be problematic as depending on your major depends on which of the calculus classes were required

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