Freshman not happy

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-21-2003
Freshman not happy
15
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 4:02pm

Hi - DS1 is away at school - we live in New England and he's in FL. He's not happy and is finding the culture to be too different for him i.e; having to drive everywhere with no or little public trans, the people are not like New Englanders,etc.. He wants to switch and both DH and I have told him he really should finish out the year there since it ends in May and he really doesn't know where he  wants to go.

I was wondering how other parents have dealt with this.This child is very sensitive but also makes snap decisions and really needs to mature somewhat. I believe he should stay put partly due to the experience of a different place but also since he doesn't know where else to go. He feels we are punishing him somewhat making him stay the year and wants to swtich next semester. We've also told him he gets one transfer and that's it. He has to stay and finish out his degree and if he decides to go to grad school  he can go anywhere since he's paying. At this point the olnyplace he could get intofor next semester is our state school and he says he doesn't want that.

What to do? Are we being unreasonable? He sounded very dejected when I talked to him today about this and I really don't want him to be depressed but it's driving me crazy. He wants to go some very "hippie" like schools in the northeast which are 1 very expensive and 2 somewhat removed from the city life he says he wants.

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 6:06pm

*I* would not pull him out just yet.  He's only been there about 8 weeks.  That's not long enough to get used to ANYTHING.  Plus, he should have realized that Fla is NOT New England, BEFORE he went there.  That is the point of school visits.  If his grades are bad at the end of the first semester, or if depression becomes a real issue, after he comes home for Christmas I'd tell him he has to STAY home and go to community college until he matures and earns enough money to contribute to his own education.  It's easy to be demanding, picky,  and throw money out the window if it is NOT YOURS.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2009
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 6:51pm
Hi renesboys, We live in FL. My oldest went to Boston to school so I understand the transition in the reverse. It is really hard to take calls from our college students when they are so far from home. And equally hard to make them remember why they chose to follow a path. What major is he studying? Will his first trip home be at Thanksgiving? Is your boy in a dorm? You have found a great group of parents who are here to listen and be here for you! I don't know if logistically a transfer happen this fast. Has he called schools?
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-21-2003
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 7:11pm

He's doing enviromental science and biology. He did get some $ from the school which is why he chose to go there, but I think the transition is tough. He is on a dorm but the dorms are not like when we were kids. His dorm doesn't have an "open door" policy - the kids do not leave open their doors when they are their rooms. He's met lots of kids but it's the difference in the enviroment thats getting him down. I think also he's very arty and there's not a lot of alternative culture in his area.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-19-2006
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 7:28pm
We live in the northeast and our ds went to Golden, CO for college so I understand the change of culture/location thing. I don't have any experience with a college kid being unhappy though, so I consider myself very lucky. I would lean toward telling him that he needs to stick it out for the year. I agree with Sabr that it has not been long enough for him to really know whether he likes it. Maybe this January when you guys have a foot of snow and he is going to the beach he may think his decision wasn't so bad after all. :smileyhappy:. I guess I would need to know more about the situation to offer any more advice. Was this a school that he wanted to go to to begin with or did you encourage him to chose it? If it was his choice totally I would certainly remind him of that and tell him he cannot transfer elsewhere this year. When I think about it, if you guys "encouraged" this school there must have been a reason for that and I would not allow him to transfer before next summer or fall either. Robin
Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 8:01pm

I can relate but in our case ds was at a U about 8 miles away. The culture of that school was not what he was used to from our neighborhood/his HS. Not a bad thing, just very different.  He's artsy (an art major) and that U was more known for nursing and business and biology.  He's a suburban kid, that U was in the heart of the city.  He was unhappy about this time his freshman year too, and I suggested that over winter break he go visit this other local school that I had thought would've been the better fit in the first place (smaller and in a suburb and known for fine arts). He chose the U he went to originally, 100% his choice. He did stick it out for 2 full years and then decided it really wasn't a good fit and did transfer to the other U this fall- and now he's much happier there. He does wish he'd transferred his 2nd semester but it did all work out for him.

I think the best thing I did was let him talk/vent, etc., and let him think about what he wanted to end up doing, where he thought that best fit would be, etc. I think giving him the option, when home over winter break, to explore the other U (which he chose not to at the time) made him feel more in command of his comfort level. Maybe you could suggest the same thing? If your ds has to stay at the FL U for this year due to housing or scholarship commitments, it would at least give him the feeling that he could change next year; encourage him to start to do all the legwork to make the switch. Might at least make this year more palatable, and who knows, maybe by then he'll have gotten comfortable and want to stay.

Hugs - I do remember how that felt on the mom side!

Sue

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 8:31pm

My ds didn't want to change schools but he did call home to complain about things a few times during his first term. I offered suggestions for how he might improve some of the problems but it turned out he really just wanted to vent. I think there was some homesickness mixed in with missing HS friends, he didn't get along with his roommate, adjustments to the different culture and dorm living/cafeteria eating, etc. There were a variety of problems throughout the first year but after that he was very happy at his school and college town.

Its too bad that your ds is suffering from culture shock but not surprising...he will get over it eventually.

I agree with the advice to tell him that he needs to stick it out for this academic year, and when he comes home at winter break that you can talk about options for next year. Partly because its too late to put together an application for spring admission at most schools, partly because he may decide that he can accept FL after he gives it more time. I would put the bulk of the work on him to figure out deadlines, financials etc at the other schools he's interested in. And if he's really ambivalent about where to attend then maybe he should return home next year and take the GE's for less $$ at CC while he figures it all out.

We have had a few members here over the years whose CS' realized that they made a very wrong choice in school and did transfer, but I think all of them completed the first year before transferring.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 8:54pm
I was/am in this line too - ds chose to stick it out vs. switching 2nd semester; I did offer switching right away.
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-06-2009
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 9:19pm
Hi Does he like his profs? You are right college is totally different than when we were there. Most dorms do not have open door because my understanding it is driven by safety. Maybe one of the moms of RA students can chime in. My youngest actually was fined as i remember for being caught leaving his door unlocked the first year. He tried fighting the injustice /went before the dorm/ housing committee and still had to pay. Are you referencing the open door because your boy is finding trouble making friends? Is he on a meal plan? My youngest majored in zoology, kinda like biology without the labs. He went to UF. My oldest went to Boston, and he dealt with a lot of bias to floridians as being 30+ IQ points deficit, much less the shorts/flip flop clothes/language= accent. This age is very group identity driven and it is hard to be yourself and to be accepted/find your group of friends. His 2nd semester was totally different after he found his group through study groups and dorm activities & clubs. He did love and showed us the benefits of using the mass transit! :smileywink: something we do not have on an island!
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-25-2006
Sun, 10-14-2012 - 9:31pm

Is your son's U mainly a commuter campus?  That can make it a bit tougher to feel like you fit in, but I'd still encourage him to stick it out the first year unless you find that he is really depressed when he's home for the holidays.  How are his grades? Even if they are good, he should go visit his professors during office hours.  Sometimes they can be quite encouraging, or at least offer a different perspective, when things on the social side of life are a letdown.  A job with up to 15 hrs a week might also help if he's not already working and isn't studying constantly.  Getting to know the profs led to research jobs for our son, a human bio major.  At first they were volunteer, but later, with a built-up resume, he got paid research jobs. 

The change in culture can be disappointing, but we run up against that throughout life, unless we never relocate.  Yesterday, our waitress at a Greek restaurant said she missed the people back in Greece; not her friends, per se, but people in general.  When we asked why, she said they are more honest.  (BIL quipped, "Well, yeah!  What do you expect in the D.C. area?") We notice cultural differences in different parts of the U.S., too.  Your son can consider it a learning experience that will better prepare him for future moves.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-21-2003
Mon, 10-15-2012 - 11:31am

He does like his professors alot and he has made friends. His biggest gripe is that by and large it is somewhat of a commuter school and most things are not easily accessible without a car. Most northeast cities are fairly compact by comparison.  He takes public trans as much as possible but it is somewhat limited. He feels that he doesn't "fit" in. He is kind of an arty, alternative kid and this school turned out to be mostly sports minded with some other kids.

To be fair we did encourage him to go here somewhat because he really didn't know what he wanted of any of the schools he applied to. He got into all the schools he applied to but there was no similar thread in any of the schools he applied to. He really didn't know what he wanted. This school offered him a scholarship and for us that was a big deal. I am glad he took the chance and went far away but I am concerned if we make him stay the full year he will get depressed - making it harder to get him grounded. Each time we talk to him he seems more and more despondent. OTH he likes his subject and is doing well.

It's very frustrating mostly because he seems to have no actual direction as far as schools go.

Thanks for all your answers.

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