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DD unhappy with course and lonely - year 2(34 Posts)
Looking for advice. My DD is in her second year. She’s doing really well academically but is unhappy with the course content - she feels it does not match up with the course criteria. She’s also unhappy that this semester the work will be all graded via group presentations - she likes team work but finds she ends up doing most of it.
The main problem is she feels incredibly lonely. She moved in with friends for this year, but they are now all in relationships and she’s been dropped. I’ve said to her try and find some societies however she feels they are very clicky.
She is due to go back tomorrow but really doesn’t want to. It’s around a 5 hour car journey from us so not easy to get to and home from for a quick visit - which is also another issue as her uni friends are local to the uni and often pop home, increasing her feeling of isolation.
She’s tried talking to her assigned lecturer but feels brushed off.
Has she tried looking for things going on 'in real life' that she might be interested in joining, rather than restricting herself to university clubs / societies? Or looking for a part time job or voluntary position where she would meet new people? Not much help on the course organisation and assessment front, but might provide a diversion.
Unfortunately, it is a well-known downside of groupwork that some members of groups may manage to ensure that the distribution of work is not very even.
She may in fact be so unhappy she needs to leave. Only she can work this one out. It wouldnt be the end of the world. Perhaps transfer to somewhere closer
Why doesn’t she socialise outside of uni?
We have said to her that we’ll support whatever decision she makes regarding staying/leaving - but it is a decision that only she can make.
With regards to socialising outside of uni - she doesn’t know anybody there.
She’s going to look for some part time work when she gets back, I’m hoping she can help.
I think she thinks that she should be having the time of her life at uni - Instagram is telling her all her other friends are, and she just feels alone
Let her see if she can find some part time work which may help her meet others and so feel less isolated. Also hopefully the group work will not be as bad as she fears. Societies can be cliquey but you often have to keep turning up to break into them, persistence is key. In the meantime I would do some research and contact some other universities to find out how easy it is to transfer to other courses, what needs to be done and how will this affect the finance side of things. So if she does decide that she wants to leave, you are prepared.
I'm so sorry she feels that way!
I have to say though, I think there is an idealised version of student life which creates the feeling of loneliness and isolation. The idea that everyone will live together in a student flat, with constant and codependent social lives, is kinda inaccurate. The majority of the time, people are busy and romantic relationships often take priority in terms of downtime. Being a student myself, I completely relate to that feeling but I promise it is actually something that most people feel - even the ones who appear to be having fun all the time.
If it's possible - I know it can be expensive - why doesn't she join her uni gym or something? Exercise classes can be much cheaper than you'll find outside of uni, and also really time consuming. I've made some really lovely friends just from going to the same gym classes - we would grab a coffee and gossip afterwards or in the library when we bumped into each other.
So many people are in the exact same position and sometimes doing an independent activity, rather than forced socialisation like in society nights etc, is a great way to meet other people who are a bit bored and disillusioned with their social lives.
Alternatively, I think sometimes it's just the case of actually making a formal plan. If you're all just hanging out at home then you can assume that most people will just hang out in their rooms with their bf/gfs. She could send a message and say specifically 'Lets do a flat dinner this week and a movie night? I want to do girly face masks etc'. This way it is an actual plan and something for everyone to work their schedules around rather than spend another night accidentally just chilling in their rooms.
I hope that helps!
Thank you all, appreciate the advice
I don’t think you necessarily have to know someone to join a society. What interests does she have outside her course? Not every society will be a clique - surely? She seems far too negative about the possibilities that are available.
Does she not have any other friends outside of those she lives with? Are they really seeing their boyfriends every night of the week? I think she could be a bit more proactive regarding joining something or organising something. Getting a job might help too.
Some courses will have Group work. I think she’s looking for problems before it actually happens! I slightly get the impression that neither her flatmates or the course students are quite good enough and don’t meet her expectations which might be too lofty. Can she “choose” the students she wants to be with for the group work or have the groups been formed already? Can she be proactive about it? Lead the group dynamic and divide the work fairly? It’s always a good thing to lead and work will throw up similar situations. Grasp the opportunity to be the leader instead of complaining.
She may well find this problem and friendship issues on a course elsewhere too. She’s nearly half way through. I think a reset of expectations and a big effort to find something else to do would help.
When she says the course content doesn't fit the criteria, what does she mean exactly?
I know this is only part of the problem, but I wonder if she can get a bit more than feeling brushed off. I can see reasons why she might have that feeling, but it depends a bit on what her issue is.
Her course is quite niche - and her flat mates are dating within the group.
They all stuck together last year and didn’t it really socialise outside of the group.
In terms of the course, the course leader left this year, along with a few other lecturers and they’ve been replaced by lecturers who do not appear to be involved in the subject - they are in the field but on the edges. I’m not going to say the course as it is quite outing.
She has read the thread and is going to look at part time work/volunteering and have another look at the societies.
gastromum, this could have been DD. She was really unhappy during her first year, and made relatively few friends.
Second year has been like night and day. She met a group whilst on a placement at the start of the year and her life changed. She has regained her confidence and its like having our daughter back.
All I can suggest is that your daughter is proactive in both meeting different people, and in following up. And perhaps she deliberately spends time with people who care about her, whether family or school friends, to help boost her confidence.
Oh, sorry, didn't mean to pry or make you say anything outing.
I mentioned it because I have quite often seen students say the course content isn't what they expected, and sometimes people aren't as patient as they might be in response (eg., the 'brush-off') because they think the student is basically just demonstrating they didn't realise what the course would be about, which isn't something you can rectify.
OTOH I can see it could feel a bit bumpy if the course leader's left. It might be helpful for her to go to the lecturer with specific points (eg., 'this is what I understand the criteria to be for this module; this is what I understand us to have done last week, can you help me understand how they match up?'). Excuse me if she's already done this.
Sarahandquack. That’s a good idea, to take specifics like that - will suggest that, thank you
Thank you all for your suggestions. She’s going back today, feeling a little more positive and determined to find a job!
Speak to student advisor/counsellor? For help with the loneliness and to find out whether she can transfer to another Uni, perhaps nearer home? Not always possible but worth finding out.
I had an awful time in second year. It really was a low point in my life and thankfully the only thing that seemed to go right at the time was my course...if it hadn't i certainly would've been tempted to leave.
There are a few things that helped
1. University counselling service was fab. Went to some self esteem groups and things. The first time I went I just cried the whole 45 mins as I was so upset about my friends/living situation/homesickness
2. Making lots of plans. Catch up with friends from school at other unis. Book tickets to things she can look forward to. Visit her for a weekend and do fun girly things she'll enjoy.
3. Tell her to join societies. Anything, it doesn't matter! I did all sorts of things etc rowing that I'll never do again but the social aspect saved me. It gave me something to do three times a week
4. If there's an option to transfer somewhere nearer to home let her consider this. I couldn't do this and I wish I had done
5. I did, however, interrupt my course for a year and go home and get a job. After a year I was ready to go back and start again, however for some this is difficult to get back into the course. It allowed me to break down the time I had to spend at uni into smaller chunks.
6. Encourage her to talk to her tutor about her concerns. They should want to know about things like this.
7. If you can, pop some money into her account and tell her to visit friends/come home/use it to visit friends in her city/town and if she needs to get a taxi back because it's late at night etc, she can. I struggled because our student houses were in a dangerous area and got worried about coming home late at night. A few Uber's were so cheap and made a difference.
Oh! Also, volunteering. I volunteered at a local animal rescue and it was lovely. Some people also did nightline and found it really rewarding
Gastronomum - I could have written part of your post too except DD is in first year and has had a v wobbly first week back. Hope things improve for your DD
Rainbows, brownies, guides or scouting would always welcome volunteers, otherwise something like St Johns ambulance
Is there a welfare officer in the student union? At my old uni this would have been part of their remit, to at least signpost support services, & they should also have a good idea of the societies and extra curricular things available. There should also be some kind of counselling service within the university.
I agree with suggestions to try and find a social group through an interest. Does she have a hobby, something she'd like to learn or a sport, political group she might be interested in? There should be something on offer by the SU, sports centre or local area - you might be able to help googling relevant clubs, groups, classes outside the unversity. Volunteering is also a brilliant suggestions.
There are also 'make a friend' apps similar to dating apps if that kind of thing appeals to her.
Was talking to a friends DS on Saturday doing 1st year medicine. His social life is the badminton club rather than course companions, who says are mostly not his type. My two DS`s joined the rugby clubs, good social side. I think joining a gym or sport is more sociable and good for you when you have to spend to much time sitting around studying.
I wonder if:
is unhappy with the course content - she feels it does not match up with the course criteria
The main problem is she feels incredibly lonely
I don't think that a student less than half way through a degree programme is really in a position to be able to judge course content in the way she is - I wonder (speaking as a very experienced tutor) if she's projecting more general unhappiness onto her course?
If she has an issue with group work., she needs to strategise about ways to stop feeling she does all the work. I teach a subject that requires group work, and we do a lot to ensure that students contribute and realise why they need to contribute. We also urge students to talk to each other about how they share the work, and how they deal with those who don't take satisfactory responsibility.
Thing is, many many many workplaces and jobs require that people can work in teams. So in tackling her peers' apparent laziness, she will be developing really key employability skills.
But the other thing is, as a tutor investigating student claims of others not doing the work, I tend to find that it's not always so simple. Sometimes, those who feel they do all the work overlook what others contribute. Sometimes they require others to work in their ways. Sometimes they don't listen to other group members. And sometimes they really are taking on too heavy a load.
So can you talk her through some of this? Help her to strategise & break down the issue with groups into doable tasks - including productive ways of challenging her peers' perceived lack of contribution?
If I were her tutor I'd be asking about extra-curricular activities - what could she do at university that she's always wanted to do, but hasn't been able to do? There are amazing opportunities at university to learn new things (at very low cost). My university has a fantastic riding club for example, and you don't need a horse. And a top sports centre, as well as a student radio & TV station, and a newspaper, and umpteen drama societies. And so on ... My students sometimes seem too busy for their studies (that's another story).
When I was an undergrad, I belonged to a student society that was very active, and my extra-curricular activities were part of what got me my second academic job and my subsequent career (as well as my PhD etc) - and it's produced some of the leaders in the more general employment field (my peers in that student society now are amongst those who run the industry). So extra-curricular activities together with academic excellence can really help.
The student society I belonged to had a reputation for being cliquey. I knew nobody there when I joined it - but just had a passion for the activity. YOu know what? It wasn't cliquey - it was just that they all knew each other, and us new members were that - new. We joined in Freshers' workshop sessions, did a lot of the grunt work, worked our way up in the group, got to know people, took on more responsible roles, and hey presto! By 3rd year some of us were on the committee.
That's how it works ... She just needs to get started, be willing, offer to do stuff, and get to know people. These groups only look like a clique from the outside, because the current members know each other. But remind your DD - the apparent clique were all newbies once!
Also to say, we find that undergrads can often have as many difficulties adjusting to 2nd year as when starting university. Some universities run a "ReFreshers" programme on entry into 2nd year.
It's from 2nd year on that work/grades count towards the degree outcome, and the standard of the work steps up. We push our 2nd years - several of their modules are fulcrum points in the degree, and they're tough modules, but essential in pushing the students towards independence and graduation.
Thank you everyone, great advice - Ove shown her the thread and I think it has helped.
She’s gone back, and has applied for some work - somhioefully that’ll Throw something up for her