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Son hates university. Don't know what to do.

(226 Posts)
Janedoughnut Tue 15-Sep-20 10:43:52

I (and younger son) took my son down (from Yorkshire) to university in London on Saturday. Dropped him off sat morning and left him while we booked into out hotel. Met him later for lunch until about 4pm where he went to his room and we went to our hotel. He text about 5pm saying he hated it so constant texting back and forth me trying to reassure him. He met his room mates later that evening and said they were nice but didn't feel like he had anything in common with him. We met him Sunday morning for breakfast. He was in a bad way, crying etc so we booked another night in hotel and spent the day with him. He went back to his room Sunday afternoon and within half an hour he's texting saying he hates it etc. Met yesterday morning and he seemed a little happier. I said we'd come down next weekend.

He text as soon as we got home yesterday saying he was lonely. Again this morning. He went to see student services thus morning and they told him to fill in a form online for an appointment.

I should add that he's autistic but no special needs. He has trouble with change and social situations.

Sorry for the length of this.

Can someone please give me some advice as I don't know if I should bring him home or be tougher with him but I'm worried about his mental health.

I've tried telling him that it'll be hard to begin with but that it takes time but it's falling on deaf ears.

OP’s posts: |
Thisismytimetoshine Tue 15-Sep-20 10:46:25

Wow. He gave it an hour? confused

Ginger1982 Tue 15-Sep-20 10:51:53

Obviously I'm not sure of the extent of your son's autism but I think he really needs to give it more time. It's a huge change for anyone, especially moving a distance away and especially when activities are restricted at the moment so no normal 'freshers week' etc.

I think you need to harden your heart a bit. I moved away from home a number of years ago. Hated the job, hated where I lived, hated the fact all my colleagues had partners when I didn't and moaned constantly to my mum. She told me I had to put up with it and make the best of it until my contract was up. It was hard to hear but I made the best of it until I could move back.

He needs to give it more time and by letting him come home now you would be setting a precedent.

Mintjulia Tue 15-Sep-20 10:54:05

OK, I'm autistic and I had some of those feelings. Is he in a halls of residence? At least he has room mates. I was in a bedsit on my own and it was very difficult.

What is the college doing about fresher's week? I know partying has been curtailed but there should still be clubs and societies.

What does your ds like? Fortnite maybe? There will probably be societies related to computer games and he'll be able to make virtual contacts fairly easily. What about sport or chess? What does he do?

He needs to check out the freshers material that the college will provide and find a starting point. Perhaps you could go through it with him next weekend. He won't be the only one feeling like that.

When you see him next weekend, take cake and beers. They will help break the ice with his room mates.

IsolaPribby Tue 15-Sep-20 10:57:08

Tbh, saying he is autistic but no special needs is a bit of a contradiction. My son is autistic, and really struggles with any sort of change of routine and transition. Did Uni provide any sort of support with the transition? Were you able to do any thing to help prepare him for the change? What were his expectations of how it would be?

NHT32 Tue 15-Sep-20 10:59:13

He may have been more suited to a University that he could travel to daily than one where he lives away although it will undoubtedly be good for him long term if he stays. Unfortunately you can’t wipe their arses for them forever. Does he enjoy learning? I guess there hasn’t been much so far so once it kicks off he could get into that more?

Opentooffers Tue 15-Sep-20 10:59:27

I wanted to go home after the first week of uni, 2 weeks on and no way did I ever want to leave. It takes a while to get into the swing of it.
I'm surprised he picked a uni so far away from home though, makes it hard to nip home for the odd weekend until he's more settled.
I think give it more time, if it's no good after about a month or so, perhaps reapply to a nearer uni for next year.

mumonthehill Tue 15-Sep-20 11:00:02

Ok, this was me, you need to encourage him to stay. My dm refused to take me home, and I hated uni. However after a week I began to settle, made friends and enjoyed my course. I would say that he needs to give it some time, it is very early days. If he does choose to leave it needs to be for valid reasons and he needs to have a plan if he comes home. It is not always easy leaving home and living somewhere new, however with put him trying his best to give it a go then he will never know what it will be like. I loved my time at uni in the end and thank my dm for standing firm!!

ButteryPuffin Tue 15-Sep-20 11:02:18

He's been there for three and a half days. He was texting after one hour in his room saying he hated it. That is not enough time!

Are you surprised by this? You know him and his condition best. Did he find it hard to cope with time alone at home? What discussions did you have beforehand about how to cope with being away?

WooMaWang Tue 15-Sep-20 11:02:25

He should go to the disabilities advisers in student support. There may well be provision to help students with ASD transition to university or other things they can do to help him figure out how to settle in.

celticmissey Tue 15-Sep-20 11:02:58

Speak to student support they may be able to find a mentor who can take him under their wing a little until he feels more settled. Encourage him to give it a few weeks.

One thought though. Is it worth exploring whether he can do the same course in a Uni close to home if he really can't settle. It may be worth researching. Uni can be difficult enough for students who are not autistic but especially difficult for those students with autism.

SpaceOP Tue 15-Sep-20 11:05:17

I am not autistic so appreciate I don't necessarily have the same experience, but I absolutely would not be letting him come home after just a few days. He needs to at least try and texting you an hour after you drop him off, is not him trying.

I hated uni too. By end of the first term, my parents told me that if I still hated it at the end of the year I could transfer to a different university closer to home. Needless to say, I loved it and didn't do so but I was always grateful that my parents gave me that out as it allowed me to relax.

CausingChaos2 Tue 15-Sep-20 11:06:47

I agree that more time to settle is needed. Even if his housemates aren’t his cup of tea, he’ll meet lots of other people on campus and could look to live with them next year.

SoulofanAggron Tue 15-Sep-20 11:07:44

This is 'just' him adjusting, it doesn't mean he will hate it. x Go home, don't act as if it's an emergency which might mean he has to leave.

RosieBdy Tue 15-Sep-20 11:08:03

I'm sorry he (and you) are feeling like this.
It brings back lots of memories... I HATED the start of uni for various reasons and my Mum was all for coming to get me after my phone calls and letters home about how awful it was, but unknown to me at the time, my Dad refused...
I'm so glad he did though, as after a few weeks it was fine and I made some really good friends and had a great time.
I think you know your son best, but if it was me I'd offer him support, be there to listen to his feelings, but encourage him to keep going and it will get better.
The more he gets involved in uni life the better it will be and constantly dwelling on how awful it is only makes it worse, although I appreciate that's not easy, particularly for someone with autism...
Good luck to you both.

titchy Tue 15-Sep-20 11:15:33

I told ds (not ASD but very shy and takes a while to settle into things) that he didn't have to stick it out if he hated it, but he absolutely was not to come home till reading week. He stayed and loved it by the time lockdown happened. Though admitted that he didn't like the first couple of weeks at all.

Janedoughnut Tue 15-Sep-20 11:18:27

Thanks for the replies. The uni disability people had an online session last week before he started for an hour but that's it. They said they would set up a chat room for these students but he hasn't heard anything.

Ive been telling him for months that it'll be hard to begin with but it should get better but it's falling on deaf ears. He only spoke to his room mates once as don't seem to be around much. The uni has a on line welcome meeting today at 12-2pm today but that's it.

I'm trying to be tough but I'm all he's got so I don't want him to feel that he hasn't got anyone who's listening to him.

OP’s posts: |
Aquamarine1029 Tue 15-Sep-20 11:20:58

He needs time to settle, and I would also be careful as to how much texting/calling back and forth with him you're doing. Allowing him to ruminate to you on and on is only going to make matters worse.

SqidgeBum Tue 15-Sep-20 11:21:06

I think you need to be tough with this one. It takes people who arent autistic a while to settle into university, let alone someone who struggles with change. You need to basically refuse to go get him. He needs to give it a good chance.

I agree with PPs. Tell him to get in touch with the disability office, tell him to join clubs and societies that interest him, and tell him to try socialise, even just chat, with his room/housemates. He wont have anything in common with them if he doesnt speak to them. Sitting in his room alone will do no good.

Unfortunately he is an adult now, and university is where you learn to manage things yourself. He chose this, so now he needs to give it his best shot. It's that or sit at home. Change is always going to be hard, but change is necessary at times.

Janedoughnut Tue 15-Sep-20 11:23:11

He's filled in the online form for an appointment with student support and emailed the lady who did the session last week.

He chose London because of his obsession with trains/the underground so wasn't really keen to go to one closer.

OP’s posts: |
Catmaiden Tue 15-Sep-20 11:24:37

DS has Autism and Dyspraxia. We had exactly this with him, the first few weeks were hell as he was constantly texting, phoning, Facetiming to tell us how much he hated it all and wanted to come home.
He changed flats after a week, to share with people who were more into similar stuff. He also went up four days early, and did a familiarisation couple of days which were tailored for those who were Neuro diverse.

He joined some clubs, and by Christmas was loving it.

He had a great time at Uni, eventually, (so much so that he did a PhD and is now a post doc there !)

It is hard, but you have to be tough, sometimes. Even allowing for the COVID-19 times we live in making things more restricted, unless he tries, how will he know he won't get to like it?

missbecks90 Tue 15-Sep-20 11:25:00

My sister did this exact thing last September. She decided in the space of a few hours she hated it and bombarded my mum with texts and calls for the whole weekend...she met her roommates and they all seemed lovely she said but she just hated it. Personally I think she should have given it more time & I think my mum is to soft on her as she went to pick her up and brought her home on the Sunday! She didn't even start her course!! hmmbecause she had signed a contract for her accommodation for the year she was still liable to pay the rent and has since been paying around £2,500 off based on so much every month this year. It was a total waste of time & I wish so much she had given it a chance and my mum had fished out some tough love!

Purplewithred Tue 15-Sep-20 11:29:35

DD came home from her first Uni, but did give it 6 weeks. She had good reasons for leaving (hated the course, horrible accommodation miles from the Uni, uni oversubscribed so very little support) so I supported her in that. She came home, had a gap year, decided what she really wanted to do, researched properly, visited etc so when she went to her new Uni it all went really well.

He really does need to give it a bit longer - 4 weeks? but it might be that this uni/course is not the right one for him.

MrsOf4 Tue 15-Sep-20 11:30:53

My daughter hated Uni, ( 4 hours away from home).l picked her up after one week and she came back home.
She took a gap year working in a supermarket and is now in her second year at Uni living at home and absolutely loves it.
My son is also at Uni , further away ( 5 1/2 hr drive away) and he loves it.
I knew my daughter would not settle, she is outgoing, and always gets ' stuck into things', but just knew it was not for her. I told her there is-no shame in coming home.
Bring him home.

WooMaWang Tue 15-Sep-20 11:31:34

He could also contact the student union. They may have some kind of mentorship or other provision for students struggling like your DS.

Depending on what his course is, his department might do something too. Students with ASD are over represented in some subject areas, so those departments often start with the assumption that students will need support in particular areas.

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