This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
DS in Uni but no friends yet. Is it still early days?(32 Posts)
He's miserable. 4 weeks in and he hasn't got a group of mates.
It's really affecting him. He's confident and friendly. Or was. Pretty ordinary, we'd say he was a people person. He joined a few societies but has now point blank refuse to try any others. He feels he's just a hanger on.
There is no one he can phone to say 'let's go down the pub'
He hasn't said he wants to come back but has arranged visits to old friends or his girlfriend at the opposite end of the country for the next few weekends so he's not alone. His flat mates are pleasant but all off doing their own thing. He likes the independence, likes living away. The course is ok.
Other than trying new societies, which is not going to happen I'm lost what to suggest.
Please tell me it will get better in a few more weeks.
Just to say that my DC is in exactly the same position and it is so hard to see them going through this. It seems to have happened because they are in a flat where they see very few of the other students and are in huge lecture theatres - and rarely see the same person twice. There were also lots of changes to their timetable in the first two weeks. They have joined some societies, but have found that the others going are already in a group. I have suggesting finding other societies but I think that they have lost a lot of confidence, so are scared that they will have the same experience - and feel worse.
I have racked my brains but can't think of anything more that I can do. I think that it is probably more common than we know, but wish there was some way of bringing all the students who are going through this in each university together.
Any sports teams he can join? Rowing is a great sociable club and generally big drinkers who enjoy a good night out and everyone welcome. Novices are always welcomed.
He just needs to hang in there and not be afraid to ask his flat mates or a friendly face he sees in lectures to the pub, rather than waiting for someone to ask him. Good luck to him. He'll be ok, just takes time.
He'd probably enjoy rowing but he won't engage with any other groups now.
it's such a change in him. He not life and soul of the party or loud etc etc but he's genuinely quite outgoing without being in your face.
Good point about large lectures. Smaller groups will come when he picks options but that's not until next year.
This is much more common that you'd think, on the WIWIKAU Facebook page there are a few saying similar things.
I don't know the answer either except to agree with pp that sports societies are usually really social and helped my DD.
I think actually a lot of people feel like that. Problem is everyone is as well putting a front on and looking like they're fully involved and happy.
I'd say it took me to the summer term to feel comfortable that I wasn't outside-and then I spent the summer worrying that the new first years would push me out again because they'd be new and interesting and I wasn't... (they didn't!)
It was a long time ago but I was miserable as sin in my first year. It did get better. Hopefully he will get seminar groups and maybe work more closely with people and get to know them that way. There is always the Students Christian Union if he is that way inclined; they are nice to everyone from what I remember!
Early days! My sons first year flat was awful, he didn’t gel with any of his flat mates ( they were dirty, scruffy and plain anti social in some cases). He had school friends at the ‘other uni’ in the same city so did hang out with them a lot.He sounds the same, not in your face but sociable and outgoing.
By the end of the first year he had made friends on his course and ended up living with one of them and some others. He had a wonderful second year and in his last year , he’s close friends with his course mates, still sees his school friends and they all mix together. It wasn’t his first choice uni ( he went in through clearing ) but he says he couldn’t have been happier than he is
No advice other than it will get better, just let him know it’s not only him who feels/ has felt like this.
Thanks for the reassurances.
I want to do something. If it was school I'd be sending his form teacher an email saying can you keep an eye on him.
I transferred him some money to his account. I can't afford to do that every time he's miserable!
It takes time, he's only a few weeks in. I made lots of new "friends" in my first few weeks but that was a long time ago, and more importantly, they're not the same people I meet up with a couple of times a year now, 25 years later. He'll find his people, I'm sure.
oh op, how tough for you. Tbh I am amazed my socially anxious dd has made a couple of friends. They are on her course, will that get easier for your son? My dd is not keen on the people in her flat as they don't wash their pots up (!).
Otherwise yy to sports clubs, that's a good way to get involved, easier for lads too perhaps? footy, rugby, some random sport like American football?
Could he perhaps try looking at activities locally, outside the confines of the university? Even the most remote university campus is actually somewhere in the real world. What kind of thing did he enjoy before he went to university?
Rather than a “club” could he join the gym? Going regularly will make him feel better and naturally get him chatting to other regulars.
If his timetable allows a part time job particularly in a student bar/coffee shop can be fun.
Dd also in same position. Flatmates nice but not really her people. Has joined societies and enjoys going but no friendships there either. And on her course nobody seems to talk!!
I have no idea what the answer is.
Four weeks isn't long to make friends in most situations, but there is an impression created that at university you make friends straight away, have an amazing time in Freshers week and the flats are full of fun.
I think it makes it very hard for those who don't 'click' straight away. And yes I have heard that some of the societies/clubs can be a bit cliquey - although if you keep going the established groups may tend to open up a bit. The trick is to find the ones that aren't, and to join the ones that really interest you, so that they're rewarding even if you don't make best buddies - but I can understand getting put off if the first few haven't worked out!
As your ds has friends from home it probably is a question of just giving it time to get to know people on his course better and letting friendships evolve gradually - and, if he can push himself, to start chatting to people at lectures (though not during the lecture obviously!) and maybe suggesting meeting up for coffee/a drink?
That sounds so hard for him. I would suggest he has a look out at lectures/groups for others who may be on their own and ask if can sit with them or strike up a conversation. He may find others struggling
One tip for finding your feet in large lecture groups can be to turn up on the early side rather than sliding into a full room.....it tends to be the same faces that do this and you have something to talk about if you are all waiting outside the room for the same thing. Obviously it doesn't suit everyone or work every time but suggesting it just in case it helps.
Definitely stick at the societies. Was there anything he enjoyed doing at home, that's not available at uni. If so, he could see ask on facebook/any group chats if anyone is interested in getting together with him occasionally to play say a game of squash, play musical instruments together, whatever appeals. I've also seen it suggested they apply for a job, so ther's an outlet and especially if it was a job within uni, he'd have to work with others and hopefully get to know them.
It takes time. My hall mates were not my cup of tea at all. I think the key thing is joining societies, music and sports ones that have rehearsal/games followed by pub are great for bonding together and helps force the socialisation. Even with that it takes time. I think he should aim to socialise a couple of times a week with the societies, and by about Christmas he will probably be forming some friendships. You need to keep going to the clubs, not go a few times, not make an insta friend and drop out. If he likes the outdoors, then the mountaineering/hiking/canoeing clubs also have day trips and weekend trips which throw you together with like-minded people. I made my friends, who I eventually lived with, through the sport and music clubs but we generally only socialised through the clubs, as they took up so much time.
What do they do between lectures? Obviously if it's an arts degree with 3 hours a week then people tend to disappear, but in science degree there tends to be the odd hour free in a whole week of labs and lectures, so suggesting going for coffee in the gap, or going over an assignment together can help make course friends.
I think he has been exceptionally unlucky with his flatmates. How come they are off doing their own thing already? Did they come with friends? Is he in a “quiet” hall? Who’s in the other flats?
Actually, I might ask to move to another flat. There is no guarantee he will make friends on his course. What if they don’t work together? DD never worked with anyone on her MFL courses.
What did he do in freshers week? Were no possible friendships formed there? Are there no events in his hall? If no one is interested in being friendly I don’t think he has anything to lose by moving to another hall. It cannot be worse can it?
I chatted to my dd before she went so she knew that friendships woukdnt form instantly. Gym isnt the best for getting to know people but any dance, drama, sports, media etc will get you chatting. Dd2 has four hours of drama rehearsals on a Saturday so that fills some of the weekend. Dd1 does department netball , so not that high a level It does take time.
I didn't have a big group of friends when I first started uni, I went out with flat mates and made a few sort of friends but I found uni really lonely after freshers week excitement.
I also didn't love the course.
I ended up dropping out after a term. It was the biggest decision I'd made and actually the best. I got a job in a solicitors office, worked in admin for a few years then retrained as a teacher.
My second time at uni I loved! I made a core group of friends and was confident in myself too. It was the best 3 years!
So my advice is to tell your son to give it time but ask how he's finding the course etc. It might be a mixture!
I told my DC to walk into a room of new people/social event then to stand back and survey the room.
Look for someone who is on their own or looking awkward and go over to them and try to make that person feel better. Once they have got that person chatting they can include other people.
Even if they dont make any lasting friends there or the event isnt their cup of tea, they go away knowing they made someone feel a bit better.
Whatever you do, keep talking. Unfortunately once you lose your nerve it’s hard to take that advice to get out and join in, you just hide behind your door. He’s got to find a routine, somehow.
Would he talk to Nightline? It’s anonymous.
Would a friend go and visit and go on a night out down the SU?
You have my deepest sympathy, my DD had an abysmal year last year, it was heartbreaking.
But do keep talking, not asking him what he’s done or making suggestions, that just makes them feel inadequate.
Christmas hol soon.
It does take time. I wanted to leave university up until mid November of my first term, and only stayed because I was too scared of telling my parents that I wanted to leave.
I know you say he won't go to any societies or clubs, but he needs to. Chances are as lectures progress he will be made to do work in groups and that is a good way of meeting people (I am friends 10 years later with the three girls I was put in a group with in my first week!) but he HAS to help himself.
He might wonder why people aren't talking to him .. but he isn't talking to them .. it's a vicious circle.
I was lucky to have a decent flat. We didn't keep in touch after the first year, but we rubbed along well enough and it was pleasant.
Join the discussion
Please login first.