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Dropped out Uni(16 Posts)
My son has dropped out of Uni and am at a loss how to help. In year 2 he had problems in his house, he didn't return after Easter and then applied to resit year 2. Last September he returned to year 2 but by Easter he was so depressed he didn't want to return for the exams. He had changed his flat mates when he originally returned but experienced more problems with his living situation. His flatmates took drugs and he found the living conditions unbearable. He has been at home since Easter and was very down for a long time. We have had several chats and I have supported him as best I can emotionally. He says he is not depressed and will not seek help. I let him chill over the Summer without any pressure. His two brothers were at home for summer and left him to have the Summer with them. We did go and see a career consultant which seemed positive initially but now he does not want to pursue this. We have talked about him travelling and getting a part time job but he has no motivation to do anything. He does seem improved from how he was at Easter but just spends his time at home and visiting the gym. I am able to talk with him but although he talks about travelling and getting a job nothing seems to be happening. I am now at a loss now to know how to help him.
It sounds to me like you need to say "OK, you've had your rest. Now it's the start of a new year and we need to know what your plans are".
If he wants to live at home, (or anywhere else for that matter) he needs to think about how he's going to fund that.
He needs to decide if he wants to do any further study at this time (same area of study or something completely different), or if he wants to get out there and earn what he can in an unskilled / minimum wage type job whilst deciding what he wants to do next, or if he wants to go out and learn a particular trade or skill, or what.
Thanks for your reply. I have had another chat with him. Very much along the lines of what you said eg, now summer over needs to get a job to get back out into world, earn some money, and give him time to think. I have said once he is doing something he will probably start to feel a lot better about himself. His answer to this is that he is not going to be somebody who dropped out of Uni and be seen as a failure by working in a shop. I said the other option would be to start making decisions about what he is going to do long term, all he says to this is that he hasn't got a clue. Also re the travelling route he talks about it when quizzed but makes no effort. Probing further I feel he has not recovered to the extent I thought he had and I actually think he is very depressed. He sees no future, no chance of anything changing as far as he feels now either. He was always so confident, life and soul, an extrovert, focussed and ambitious. Persuaded him to go to doctors but he is adament he will not take anti depressants. I have been quite firm regarding this but it seems at 22 years old he has given up on life and says he will never be the person he used to be. I think we will have to wait and see what becomes of the visit to the doctors.
I went to a life coach - sort of nlp / counselling/ and possibly hypno therapy. It is expensive - and I don't know if your son is too young but you could make enquiries and see if it is worth him going for an initial chat with someone (which is free I think). I am 58 yrs old so don't have much in common with your DS but it has made a huge difference to how I see the future (mind you perhaps there are things in common - a time of life when there are big changes).
Taking my DCs on open days to unis helped them decide what they liked the look of and which subject, also viewed the accomm, they looked in Scotland, england and n ireland!. My DS visited 3 and DD visited 4 and chose the ones most suited in their view. Just wondered if DS did that, some of them are much smaller than others.
Thanks, I had thought of NLP etc a while ago but he wasn't interested at the time so we went down career Councillor route, however his head is just not in the right place to engage with that at the moment, he is now more open to the NLP so will try that.
As far as Uni was concerned he ticked all the right boxes first time around re all the research, visits etc the only think that can't be checked out are the people you end up with! It was all fine during 1st year but then went very wrong. If he decides on Uni again it will have to be a local one living at home due to the cost, but with 3 having gone through the system we have nailed the research process.
It looks like he is still ambitious, but can't pull himself together to work towards it, and don't want to do the simple job either. Is it possible to transfer to a local Uni or study via open University if the problem is with his house mates? What subjects he study?
If math related, maybe can encourage him to change into accountance? As you can self study AAT/ACCA, do a few modular, then find a trainee position in a practice. So can gain high qualification while working.
Is he anxious about living away from home due to his previous experiences ?
In which case could he go to a local uni / college
Or distance learning ?
After his experience he just doesn't know what to do now, hence seeing a career councillor early summer. Could be Uni again, but doesn't want to do same degree (Bsc Economics), I know he isn't interested in Accountancy though. He said he used to feel certain about life but now all the self belief has gone. This is why I now think the problem regarding his mental state, self belief needs to be addressed. He has now agreed to see a life coach/NLP, although he is only now agreeing for my benefit and does not seem engaged with the idea at all. Once the self belief returns and he starts to care about his life again, maybe then he will engage with the career councillor and deciding if Uni is the route he should follow, or something else, I think an apprenteship would be a good choice leading to a degree if that is what he wants, but it has to be his choice . I just want my son back and for him to be happy and have something to get out of bed for. It is definitely a case of sorting out the mind and then hopefully everything else will follow.
I think he needs to sort his head out before moving forward now. He has agreed to try a life coach/NLP, but I think for my benefit rather wanting to engage with it, but that is probably why he needs it in the first place. Hopefully once he gets his confidence, self belief, and motivation back he can get back to the career councillor and hopefully everything will fall into place. He did Econ BSc but not interested in accountancy. If goes back to Uni would probably live at home, he said he has done all the student bit and doesn't want to repeat it, especially he would be quite a bit older now - he said it would just be about getting a degree. He has dismissed Open Uni!
Ha! Thought I had lost the post prior to one above so typed again - but shorter!
What about looking at voluntary work as good for his cv/ get him out of the house? It is tough.
could you suggest temp work whilst he considers his options? this would at least give him something to do and some money? doing something menial for a short period doesn't seem quite as depressing as admitting this is your permanent job?
you have my sympathy. my son split with his GF, went into meltdown, left work and has been a nightmare over the summer.
While it is his choice and im sure you dont want to push him, he needs to do something.
I dropped out of college when I was 17 and did nothing for over 4 years. Then, when i came to apply for jobs- i couldnt get one, because guess what? I had a massive gap in my CV that I couldnt justify with anything useful. I applied for hundreds and hundreds of jobs, and I got just 1 interview- and then I didnt get that bexause they clearly hadnt bothered to look at my CV before hand.
Maybe try and encourage him to do some dofferent types of voluntary work, even if he does something for 2/3 days a week- its something he can put on his CV and he will pick up skills he can transfer to paid employment.
He sounds like he went through similar to me, certain what he wanted to do with his life and when he took steps towards it changed his mind, and it isnt unusual. How many of us can put up our hands and say we knew for certain what we wanted to do at 17 and have had no regrets in doing so? Not many, and your incredibly lucky if you can.
Dont focus on him dropping out of university. It will still be there in 5, 10 or even 30 years if he decides he wants to give it a go. It isnt the end of the world, and if you put emphasis on that you are going to be putting even more pressure on him.
Look at it as a fresh start, encourage him all you can to get and do SOMETHING. Because he will regret it if he spends 1 year, 2 years or more sitting round the house and when hes ready to get a job he will struggle to do so.
Aww, it must be so worrying for you. Ending up with the wrong flat mates can be really awful.
I'd be careful about life coaches, there are life coaches and then there are life coaches I'd double check their qualifications carefully. anyone can become a life coach...
I think if he has the energy to go to the gym then surely he could work. It's such a difficult situation. You don't won't to force him to work if he genuinely can't handle it but then again it might really help him.
How is his diet and sleep? Does he sleep in a lot?
Is he playing a lot of computer games?
Does he smoke, drink or take drugs?
Might there be other health issues? Would the money you are considering spending on a life coach be better spent on a full medical?
What does the rest of the family think? Do they have their own ideas as to the best way forward?
Is he comparing himself unfavorably with his elder siblings?
Are you able to make it clear that the summer holidays are now over? Increase his chores a lot, stop him sleeping in (if he is) etc
It is such a tricky situation.
One of my close relatives dropped out of uni. His parents wouldn't let him just sit at home so he did a couple of jobs built up a group of friends again developed a new interest and 3 years later went to a more local uni to do a completely different degree which he completed.
I would wonder how true blaming his flat mates for everything is as if he loved the course he could have worked in the library socialised out with his flat and just slept there whilst discussing the problem with you and sorting another flat out
My DS has the same problem and have just left uni last summer. As a mum, our first instinct is try to fix the bad situation. I can totally appreciate how you feel. It is not easy to see our children suffer. It's the toughest time we experience as parent.
It looks like your son is bright and still want more for himself. You seem to have a very good relationship with your son and that to me is the key to overcome this trying situation.
I can only imagine how crushing it is for DS to go to uni and found that it is not what they thought it's going to be. The emotions they have to go through are real. The sense of failure, helplessness, hopelessness, sense of letting everyone down and not seeing a future. I have to remind myself not to see the situation as we adult see it (rationally) but from the point of view of a young man's emotion. I'm sure intellectually they know what to do, but emotionally they do not know how to handle it. A very contrary state of mind.
I believe they do want and need to be in control. And doing what they want (like going to the gym) is a form of control.
I also said to my DS that I know he needs time to get over this and asked him how long does he need to get over this (set a date) before we can all sit down properly and discussed the next point of action. And we also ask him how he wants us to help him get through this phase. All these is our attempt to give the control over him to decide and in his own terms. Let it be their choice. And do let DS set a date for anything you agree on. I think this is crucial - as soon as they know they are in control of the situation and not the other way round - they will find motivation to move on.
Perhaps you can try and find out what are the main issues bothering him. Like worries about having no friends, how to fill his times, being oldest at uni, does he wants to go to uni. his views about future etc
We tried to help DS by finding a variety of courses which we think suit him - some related to the course he chose initially and some very different - printed them out and gave them to our DS and let him take his time to look through them. He needed that little push and direction. And then there was a job that came along which we highlighted the advantages of taking it. I didn't think my DS was ready then to take it but just after a week he finds a routine and feel 'useful' again. Interesting choice of word he used. He said he likes being useful. He wants to travel and knowing that he earns it give him a sense of pride too. He has also applied to go back to uni this September. My DS keeps very close contact with all his school and uni friends which is a great great help. He also got himself into a team sport which let him makes new friends. It is still work in progress but hopefully all in the right direction.
So just keep assuring him there are always choices and keep building up his confidence.
Sorry for such a long note. I just feel for you. I'm not sure if they are useful or not. I hope it didn't appear that I am telling you what to do. I just want to share with you our journey with our DS. The time will soon come when he is ready.