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Son wants to leave university

(25 Posts)
citymum222 Fri 24-Oct-14 13:39:31

My 18 year old son wants to leave his university maths course. The course is what he wants to do and the university is fine but he is shy, decided to live at home and now struggles to make any friends or have any social life. He has tried to get into hall but no luck there. He wants to leave and start somewhere new next September. I don't know how best to advise him. He says he does not want to spend a miserable year with no friends.

TeenageMutantNinjaTurtle Fri 24-Oct-14 13:42:08

There will be other students who couldn't get into halls, they'll be in flat shares so he could try and find one of those. There are also lots of societies, could he join one? S

TeenageMutantNinjaTurtle Fri 24-Oct-14 13:45:49

Sorry, posted too soon.

He could also try and find a study group as these are usually smaller groups so easier to get to know people. (He could always start one too!)

Is there any group work for his course? Tends to be a good way to make friends.

I wouldn't advise him to leave. Seems silly when he's on the right course. Being in halls isn't necessarily the answer anyway, he could have ended up surrounded by total wankers like I was....

tess73 Fri 24-Oct-14 13:49:55

no, it's still early days. he has to try - people don't just make friends with those they're living with. It's good life experience too for when he's working and suddenly finds himself in a new area with no friends. He can get in a flat share if he tries, there'll be plenty who hate halls and move out at the end of term.

NanooCov Fri 24-Oct-14 13:53:50

I feel for him but I think he should persevere. Looking into a flat share is a good idea. Not sure halls would be any more inclusive for a shy person? You could encourage him to join some societies. Do none of his friends (or even acquaintances) from secondary school attend the same university?

Heels99 Fri 24-Oct-14 13:55:45

It is really hard to make friends outside halls. I would suggest he gives it till Xmas and then places will come up in hall. Join lots of clubs. It is horrid being lonely when everyone else is having a good time.

AMumInScotland Fri 24-Oct-14 14:23:43

How far away from the university are you? Is it genuinely affecting the amount of time he can spend over there, ability to go out in the evening, join clubs, study with others?

If it's that far, then either getting a place in halls - they probably have a waiting list in case people want to move out - or else a flat share would be likely to help.

But making friends at university can be a horrible struggle for shy people even if they are living right there, so he needs to be clear about what is causing the problem and whether living at home is just a red herring.

Without wishing to be negative, I spent a miserable first year without friends, and I was in halls.

What interests does he have? Are there clubs he could join? Could he take up something musical or a sport or chopping down rhododendrons with the conservation volunteers? Are there study groups or seminars for his course - could he start suggesting 'Going for a coffee to discuss this further' at the end of them? There are probably plenty of other people feeling just the same, and wishing someone would make an opening socially.

UptheChimney Fri 24-Oct-14 16:49:32

Loads of students feel this way. So here's a list:

* Clubs and societies: try something he hasn't done before. The Film Soc? The Drama Soc? Political Society -- most Clubs need people to do the grunt work, and it's a great way to meet people
* Getting involved in his Department's Staff-Student committee
* Writing for the student newspaper
* Sporting team
* Suggesting to his tutorial/seminar group that they study together
* After a lecture, chatting to people & saying "Let's get a cup of coffee" or lunch or whatever

Yes, he's shy, but shy people really have to learn to fake it. I was very shy & went to university in a country where I hadn't grown up. So no home or familiarity -- I had to manage. You take a deep breath and you get over yourself (my grandmother always told me that shyness was excessive self-regard -- that no-one really cared about what I did as much as I thought they did -- tough love but true)

Can you rehearse with him how he might take up opportunities?

Set him the challenge of talking to one new person each day?

noddyholder Fri 24-Oct-14 16:50:55

I think it is easier to start afresh in another town as all in the same boat. Going home at night can't be easy and friendships are forged like this. I would let him work for teh year and re apply.

UptheChimney Fri 24-Oct-14 16:52:52

Oh yes, AMuminScotland mentions volunteer work. Brilliant advice!

NOTHING like working for & with those who don't have the advantages that you have, to make you get over yourself.

Reading for the Blind
Working in a charity shop
Assisting at Citizens' Advice

Most universities' student unions will have a volunteer section, as students are encouraged to do volunteer work for developing transferable skills and "employability" -- the latest Gove-inspired [vomit] buzz word in universities.

Chopchopbusybusy Fri 24-Oct-14 16:58:05

I think the first year is very hard for most students. I know DD is much happier in her second year now that she is sharing with people she has chosen to share with rather than the people she was thrown together with in halls.
I agree with the others that joining clubs and societies is a great start.
It's such early days. I assume he would have to pay fees fees for the whole year if he left now. If that's the case then he has nothing to lose by sticking with it a bit longer.

Notsoskinnyminny Fri 24-Oct-14 17:43:16

DD's shy and quirky and hated her flatmates and course this time last year. After a term of tears I got tough and told her she either packed it in or got on with it. She went back as miserable as sin in January but by February had made friends with a couple of people on her course which led to a few more who they'd bump into in the cafe at the same time each week. One was in the same halls and asked if she'd like to share this year and the difference in her mood since September is amazing. Now the friendships have properly developed the majority have admitted they hated their first term and wanted to leave.

My friend's son has just left his halls after a miserable 6 weeks managed to find someone to take over his contract and because he met some people on his course who are commuting. If he hadn't come home to escape the idiots he was living with he might never have been recognised by the lad who spoke to him when their train was delayed. Sometimes friendships happen when you're not looking for them.

Kez100 Fri 24-Oct-14 18:32:16

He is finding it difficult but halls may or may not be the answer! My daughter is shy and, yes, having five "automatic" friends helped for the first two weeks but now her friendship group has changed and is mainly course based (it is a practical course so quite group orientated) and some of her Halls friends are extremely annoying - simply because they live such different lives to her. More noisy, parties when she has lectures/work the next day, and two simply detest each other which adds for conflict which she doesn't especially like. So, if he is quite shy, he might make friends (because he will feel obliged to) but he might find himself with other irritations!

Having said that, I am pleased my daughter is having to face these things. She was too much of a hermit and learning to live and work with different characters and getting on is a life skill.

One girl has recently moved out of her halls and another would like too - so waiting lists surely move? Maybe he needs to get himself on it!

Seems a pity to move Uni if he likes the course.

onadifferentplanet Sat 25-Oct-14 09:57:06

Ds is living at home and found the first few weeks difficult in fact said several times he wanted to leave. Like someone up thread said he got to know some people regularly on the same buses as him and joined some societies and has settled in far quicker than I thought he would. How are the transport links from home? Ds is fortunate that the last trains home are not until 12 and buses from the city centre to and from the Uni are frequent so he is able to join in stuff in the evenings and although he at first thought it was a faff to have to travel home while everyone else could head back to Halls, just a few weeks in and he is getting invites to stay over so really isn't missing out at all. He is a bit of a gaming geek so joined the gaming society so is able to join in with stuff in the evenings and chat to people even when he is at home, is this something your Ds could consider? This weekend Ds has headed off to an event in London with half a dozen others something he would never have considered a couple of months back . It does get easier just finding one or two like minded friends can snowball quickly.

MillyMollyMama Sun 26-Oct-14 21:08:24

As an aside, a shy Maths Undergraduate may not be what the CAB are looking for. My DD has volunteered for them and you have to be mentally tough and really able to deal effectively with a lot of very upset and not-coping people. Swearing and anger are part of the normal day! Not much scope for escaping into a back room!

Regarding the first term, I think friendships are beginning to form for most students but they do not always last. This comes to the fore when people are forming groups to look for houses in the second year. At DDs university, this happened in January if the first year, so no time to lose if he wants a shared house in year 2.

I would suggest, therefore, that he urgently gets on the list for a vacancy in a hall because you are more likely to find someone you like in a hall than not. I think catered halls are more sociable too and he will start to be included in things a bit more. My DD said that no-one got to know the students that went home. They were in lecturers but not part of the overall scene. Although at her University very few lived at home. If few live at home then I would try and live at the university at all costs.

citymum222 Tue 02-Dec-14 12:08:30

I just want to thank everyone who responded with such useful and thoughtful advice. He is a teenager so unsurprisingly he won't take any of it and appears to have decided to leave. he wants to start again and have a good experience of freshers week and maybe that is best for him....

CheddarGorgeous Tue 02-Dec-14 12:29:42

I think he has passed the point where he could get a refund of fees, which will affect his funding for future courses.

If you can advise him to stick it out I think it would be better in the long run.

Hedgehoginhotpants Tue 02-Dec-14 13:04:57

Looks like it's a shut case. In the scheme of things if he gets work between now and nest year he'll be older, wiser and more mature to deal with these 'barriers' that clearly exist for him.

One of mine might be living at home next year and doing a pretty similar course and what's happening to your son in real time is a scenario mine has already flagged as a concern. In the UCAS form he's put live away from home on all his course selections even though three of them are within 45 mins door to door. I doubt he'll qualify for the accommodation but the same barriers are being erected just at an earlier stage so for now it was a way of keeping them dismantled!

Do you have a dog that you can walk together in a park or a coastal path that you and he can go and wander along and speak frankly? Tell him the chat is much for your benefit as for his.

It might be that he's stopped working and he's already in the process of letting go of studying for now. Best to be at his shoulder to help him rather than be on opposite sides.

2rebecca Tue 02-Dec-14 13:52:00

It's a shame he can't just join clubs and socialise that way. Freshers week is a disappointment to many students and he's maybe giving it more importance than it deserves.
I hope he gets funding for next year although he's left it late.
My son only applied for courses that were far enough away for him to get accommodation in halls as he knew he wanted to live in halls. He has made friends but mainly through the clubs he goes to. You can join most clubs at any time not just freshers week.

MillyMollyMama Tue 02-Dec-14 22:54:16

I do think that living in halls gives you an extra chance of making friends and, more importantly, socialising with them. Going home from some universities would be seen as a bit weird and irrespective of what clubs you join, nights out are likely to be a problem. Can you get home at 1 in the morning ok? Students share taxis back to halls.

I would get him to start again and do a bit of work in the meantime. Whose idea was it for him to stay at home in the first place? If it was money driven, this should not have been the deciding factor, nor should choosing a university near home. University is about growing up and maturing as a person and I think your DS is probably right that he should start again. At least he won't have much maintenance loan to pay back for this year.

marnia68 Fri 05-Dec-14 19:27:41

I think it's a bad idea if he likes the course and likes the Uni then that's the main thing.That is what he is there for.
He needs to go to the accommodation office and there will be people advertising for a new housemate as people drop out, fall out with housemates etc
The 'friends' his peers have made will be largely 'life boatfriends' they have clung onto in the first weeks, and now starting to regret.
He should join some societies too.what is he interested in? it is quite tough to go on your own, but people will be welcoming.

Boomtownsurprise Fri 05-Dec-14 19:31:46

If he left home, with all due respect and gentleness, he might find it easier tbh. That's a very big barrier to overcome in first year.

About 2hrs is great. Close enough to return whenever necessary. Far enough for planned parents visits.

Boomtownsurprise Fri 05-Dec-14 19:32:18

Also massively agree with marnia

SlowlorisIncognito Sun 07-Dec-14 20:20:22

He will still be able to get funding for another full course. SFE give funding for the length of course +1 year- so he has only used up his +1 year. He will be fine funding another degree, so long as he doesn't need to repeat a year for any reason.

Has he already reapplied? The UCAS deadline is pretty soon, so he hasn't got that long to consider his options if he wants to go back in September.

Hopefully he can find work for the next year- and have a fresh start somewhere else. Ultimately, he is now an adult, so you can't "make" him stay if he's decided to drop out. If he's decided to drop out, I think maybe there are other issues beyond friendship in play, perhaps he is unhappy living at home for other reasons?

However, wherever he goes, he will have to put some effort into making friends- even if he does have a place in halls.

RojaGato Wed 10-Dec-14 04:14:43

Just to reassure you- a friend of mine, her brother went to medical school at his home university, found a similar situation and left. Started at one half way across the country a year later and thrived, both there and in his career afterwards. Although it caused consternation at the time, it is now seen as a mistake narrowly avoided, as he came out of his shell so much by going away.

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