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Son failing first year at university

(46 Posts)
tess1pink Sun 13-Jul-14 19:46:41

Just seeking some advice. My son has messed up his first year at university. He admits too much partying not enough revision. He has failed most of his exams so is having to re-sit next week. I have had a constant battle with him one minute he has it under control and has a plan for revision and the next he literally falls to pieces crying even saying its all too much. He says he does want to stay on at university and desperately wants to continue to year 2. He tells me the first year has been really hard but he never sought any help from his tutor. I don't know why. He feels terribly, saying his life his over. I am so full of anxiety. The first thing I think about when I wake is this, I have lost nearly a stone in weight during the last 3 weeks, I cannot focus or concentrate at work, just doing what is necessary. Cannot wait for bedtime every night is my only respite. I am feeling my son's pain every inch of the way and it is unbearable. I have tried to be understanding and supportive but we keep having the same conversation each day about how he is going to do his best but he says his best will not be good enough. He has gone to stay with his father for the last few days, a change of scenery and I think to get away from the terrible atmosphere in this house. I don't know what to do if in fact I can do anything at all. Is it natural to feel this much pain for him? Also more importantly will the university end his studies or would they give him another chance? Should he/me be calling the university now to ask what his options are if any or should he wait until after his resits? I don't know which way to turn. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

StoneTheFlamingCrows Sun 13-Jul-14 20:02:47

I think your son needs to do some damage limitation here. He needs to meet with his personal/academic tutor and say that he is struggling and ask for him with study skills and managing his workload. If he does fail the year, he will have more chance of being allowed to resit it if he has shown willing to reflect on his mistakes and work to turn things around.

I can see how this must be hard for you, but you have to let him make his own mistakes. He has to learn that that is life, if you party hard and don't put in any effort, you won't get anywhere.

Maybe Uni isn't for him, or maybe he needs to change course? Regardless, the alternative is employment, and he would not get away with going out and getting pissed every night and doing that either. Perhaps this is the wake- up call he needs. He needs to feel the consequences if his actions. He really needs to communicate with his Uni if he wants a second chance, and not bury his head in the sand.

Best of luck to you both.

ByTheWishingWell Sun 13-Jul-14 20:16:59

As far as I know, unis will usually give another chance (and often more than one). Loads of people mess up first year, because it's often their first time living away from home, they suddenly get huge student loans paid in lump sums, targeted advertising from clubs and pubs, and they go a bit wild. A friend of mine at uni spent 5 years there (much of it resitting), only completed the first 2 and a half years of his course, and can still go back and try again if he wants to.

Luckily first year exams are obviously the easiest, and if he puts the revision in, he should have time to catch up before the resits. He should get in touch with his tutor as soon as possible, to let him/her know that he is serious about continuing his studies and get some advice.

Make sure he knows that you're disappointed for him, not in him, if that makes sense. It probably took a lot of courage to tell you. I hope it all gets sorted. Good luck to you both. flowers

UptheChimney Sun 13-Jul-14 21:43:03

YOU sound way too over-involved. Your anxiety must be having an effect on him. Back off and let him get on with it. You need to relax and find ways to regain your own equilibrium. You can't take his exams for him.

He needs to study. All you can do to help is offer a calm, supportive and non-judgemental environment for him to revise. At the moment, your household sounds the opposite of that, so it's good he's gone to his father's house.

Sometimes people sabotage themselves because they can't admit to having made a decision that isn't right for them. He may not be ready for university yet, and is looking for a way out. Or he may simply have partied too much wink

Most universities will allow a re-sit in August/September. The mark may be capped at a bare pass, but most universities don't count first year results in the final degree classification. He still needs to pass his first year -- mainly because knowledge and understanding are cumulative, and there's stuff in first year that students actually need to know. Passing an exam is the result of learning, not an end in itself.

tess1pink Sun 13-Jul-14 21:46:37

Thank you for your quick reply and good advice, it all helps so much.

UptheChimney Sun 13-Jul-14 21:49:08

What I forgot to add is that failing first year is not a disaster as long as he then studies for and passes his re-sits.

It's probably a very good learning experience for him. We learn from our mistakes. A truism, but true.

SocksRock Sun 13-Jul-14 21:51:30

My husband failed his first year exams. He then failed the resits as well. He then worked for a year, while consolidating (with some help from Uni) the first year course and then resat a year late. He ended up with a 2:1, is now a chartered engineer and part owns the company he works for. And he ended up with a bloody amazing gorgeous wife (me, if not obvious) as I was originally in the year below him...

It's really tough on him - but not the end of the world. He just needs to do the best he can. Hope it goes well xx

phoolani Sun 13-Jul-14 21:55:30

I had similar problems in my first year - I didn't fail, but should've done - but I was on the wrong course. I changed in my second year and everything went much better. If it's not the course, i agree with Upthechimney. He really needs to find his own way; support him, yes, but ultimately, he needs to sort things through himself. It can't be helping him to think clearly knowing how much he's affecting you. And not being ready/right for uni is not the end of the world.

magpiegin Sun 13-Jul-14 21:55:38

It's not the end of the world. I failed a few first year exams and passed the resit, but if I'd failed I would have had to resit the year. Pain in the arse but in the grand scheme of things not the worst thing that can happen.

Let him get on with it, he's an adult so needs to do the work, if it isn't it's him that has to deal with it.

JellicleCat Sun 13-Jul-14 23:21:35

DD has failed all her first year exams. She too really wants to continue.

She was very down about the whole thing, I am not sure I have ever seen her quite so distraught. When we looked at her results it was obvious that she had not failed by much and this helped a bit.

She is now revising for resits and I am just hoping she will get through.

Unfortunately she is both really independent and convinced she knows best, so has not taken kindly to attempted discussions about what went wrong. I have backed off completely while trying to be supportive as ultimately she needs to make her own mistakes.

I have also told her that we will support her whatever she wants to do, except to do nothing. In other words if she drops out or takes a year off she will have to find a job.

And yes, I was upset too and am still anxious about it all but trying very hard not to show it to her.

BeckAndCall Mon 14-Jul-14 08:12:55

tess when you say he's sitting resist next week, do you mean the week we're just in - or w/c 14th?

If it's the former - ie this week. - all you can do is keep calm for him and be supportive - regular food and words of encouragement and maybe lifts to where he needs to be.

If it's next week, presumably he's already been working hard so should be just putting finishing touches to the revision ? There are all kinds of revision techniques which may work for him - it depends on how he likes to work. At this stage, he should be down to revising key points - possibly off revision cards. If he's still at the stage of revising form the main mate rail, that is likely to be too much to take in.

If it's a technical type subject eg maths, he should be on practice papers for much of his time.

If it's humanities/ essay based, then he'll be wanting to work on essay plans.

And he'll know best how he works, but very few people can work hour after hour and be effective - short bursts of 20 or 30 minutes with regular downtime is generally best.

tess1pink Mon 14-Jul-14 11:43:20

Thank you again for all your replies, Upthechimney is right in that he has definitely partied too much, but he has since said he hated the course and found it really hard, 1st semester was good and that he did think of finishing at Christmas. He is just so angry with himself for messing up and feels there is just too much to do now - exams are two this week and one next week. He has definitely learnt a lesson here. I will let you know how he gets on. Not sure when the exam results for re-sits will be announced! Thank you all.

UptheChimney Mon 14-Jul-14 16:03:51

good luck to him, and wine to you.

he can repeat a year, or start again elsewhere. it will cost him, but maybe that's the lesson learnt?

2rebecca Mon 14-Jul-14 16:19:20

If he hated the course why does he want to continue? If he doesn't love the subject and enjoy learning more about it it seems a bit pointless. Disliking the odd module but loving it overall fine, "he hated the course" not fine.

tess1pink Mon 14-Jul-14 21:46:38

Hi he loves the course subject its sports coaching but the course this year has been very scientific and mathematical if he gets through this year he will go on to the actual coaching side of things which he will enjoy. He is settled where he is and has friends there I guess he has learnt his lesson big time.

ElephantsNeverForgive Mon 14-Jul-14 21:52:34

I failed my first year exams and my resit, took a year out, changed courses to the subject I should have done in the first place and got a 2i without doing a great deal of work.

(In truth my, now RG, uni should never have let me in with the maths result I got, it was always going to end badly when 1/2 my course had As in further maths).

MillyMollyMama Mon 14-Jul-14 22:40:54

Maybe understanding the content of the course before he went would have helped. I think this type of course sounds totally practical but it is supposed to be a degree so some academic content has to be there. I do hope he succeeds with the retakes although I thought most universities did them later in the summer, giving students more time to prepare (or worry) over the summer. I would start researching alternatives just in case.

TheCraicDealer Mon 14-Jul-14 22:56:06

Play it forward, what's the worst that can happen? He fails first year- time to consider whether uni is really for him. If it's not, he's saved himself a pile of money on a course he wasn't that into. If he does want to continue, then he will more than likely be able to repeat the year. Most unis are fairly forgiving for the reasons a pp stated above. My RG uni let a friend of a friend repeat first year three times. He only needs to repeat once (hopefully). Doing first year over again can be his penance for partying too hard!

My boss had to repeat first year (plagiarising) and eventually graduated with a first, prizes coming out of his ears, final dissertation published, all the rest of it. Yes, it's a stressful time, but don't risk making it into a bigger deal than it is.

biker99 Tue 15-Jul-14 10:16:46

It might not feel like it now but the first year is the best time to make mistakes. It's much easier to change course at this point or take a year out and start again. My ds has just messed up his second year, which counts towards his degree. He's now struggling to pass and at best could get a 2:2 and to be honest that would be a miracle. And this from a straight A* student at GCSE and A*AAA at A level. Really difficult to figure out where it all goes wrong sometimes!

Needaninsight Tue 15-Jul-14 10:30:25

Am I reading this right? Your adult son is failing his exams and youre the one having a stress about it?

You need to back off a little and he needs to stand on his own two feet. Might do him some good!

It's natural to worry but to be involved to this extent is ridiculous!!!

goinggetstough Tue 15-Jul-14 12:13:03

A touch harsh Need? The OP is worrying but I am sure many of us would be similar. My DC changed his course after the first term and it is a very worrying time. He had to make the decisions and we were there to support him as that's what parents often do. It is just that some parents are more anxious than others. She is asking what she or her DS should do, so I am not sure why she shouldn't be involved to this extent.
OP just to say that our DC changed course and has now completed a successful first year - so it can work out in the end. Its just that when you are in your current situation the light at the end of the tunnel seems a very, very long way away!!!
Good luck.

mumeeee Tue 15-Jul-14 12:47:04

Need parents worry about their children whatever age they are. Well I know I do. That doesn't mean I do evetything for my adult children.

Sicaq Tue 15-Jul-14 12:55:10

I think Need has a point - in the end this is your son's problem, not yours. Of course you will worry, but to the extent of losing a stone? You should be a focus of calm - tell him what you think he needs to do in a firm and no-nonsense, but calm way!

And as others have said, it is NOT that big a deal. When I was an undergrad, 40% of my first year group failed the year.

Needaninsight Tue 15-Jul-14 13:16:14

My point teach your kids to have wings. By 19 you can be disappointed/annoyed that your adult childay have messed up. But really, by 19, your emotional involvement should be less? He should be doing things now because he wants to, or not. Facing the consequences appropriately.

Surely the 'teaching to revise' convos etc come at 12+ not at uni age. He has to want to make this right because it's his path, not because his mum is wasting away with stress.

I proabably am a little harsh but this is how I was brought up. One thing to worry if your 19yr old is out fighting in a war...but at uni? Really?

I would just remind him of why he wanted to do the course etc, say youre surprised and leave it at that. Let him sort it out!

Needaninsight Tue 15-Jul-14 13:20:35

Oh. And I failed my first year smile) Had a blast though!!!

Had to get a first in my final year to end up with a decent grade. Ahh. Good times! Uni is supposed to be fun. I cant help but think your stress is making the situation much much worse than it needs to be. Give your son some distance. Support from afar rather than revolving your life around his issues.

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