19 yr old daughter just failed first year at uni - studies terminated - what can we do? (long -sorry)!

(97 Posts)
bebemoose Thu 05-Jul-12 13:05:15

My daughter was distraught and said she didnt know why she had failed as her marks were OK. Turns out when we (secretly) checked her emails that she had actually been warned that her grades and attendance were bad in January, and that if they didnt improve, her attendance would be taken into account when deciding whether to allow her to continue into the second year. I'm assuming that this is what has happened. I havent taken that up with her yet as she has been at work both days and I dont want to upset her and make her lose her job.

I want to see someone at the uni to discuss how her marks for the year only average 35%, which I dont wish to challenge, just have them explained. I have rung every day since we found out on Tuesday and been passed around from pillar to post, with no one being able to arrange for us to see the correct person.

We have just paid £600 rent for her first quarter in her accommodation for next year, and have absolutely no idea what to do with her if she cant carry on in uni as this is the one thing she really wanted to do. She was ill quite a lot this year - as in she often rang and said she wasnt well, but nothing she can substantiate as an excuse. She was diagnosed as dyslexic (through the uni) towards the end of term, so I was wondering whether to try mitigating circumstances, as she would have been given extra time to do the work if they had known at the beginning of the year - but this still doesnt excuse the poor attendance, so not sure if this is worthwhile pursuing.

She seems to have put it all to the back of her mind and is now (after the initial crying on Tuesday) all happiness and behaving as if nothing is wrong. (I'm sure she is just putting on a brave face as she woks on a checkout and has to be nice to customers.) I, by contrast, am crying, not able to sleep, think about it constantly and am basically completely stressed by it all.

I know we need to see her tutor to ask whether she has any options at that uni, like repeating the first year or transferring to another course, but I can't even get hold of her to book an appt (obviously because they are so busy).

I dont really know what I am asking here - maybe just how do I get through this - I was already very stressed as my older daughter is getting married in September and we have lots of organising for that, I run a Scout and a Guide uniform shop and do the website for my local cat charity. I also work almost full time and, although married, do not have a good relationship with my husband - think separate lives in the same house. And I'm so cross that this has ruined my older daughter's day - as on the same day she graduated with a first, and any celebrations were just cancelled.

Maybe instead of trying to see someone and get her back on another course and fighting this, we should just walk away and try again in another year or so, when she is older and wiser? I cant decide if that would be the less stressful route. I cant actually think straight. Sorry this is so long - I needed to put it all down.

OP’s posts: |
TheProvincialLady Thu 05-Jul-12 13:09:52

The best thing to do would be to leave it entirely, 100% up to your daughter to deal with. She needs to grow up and take responsibility for her lack of attendance and effort, not have you run round sorting it out for her. If she feels she has a good case for being allowed to resit exams, etc, she should get on and make that case. Otherwise, a year or two more on that checkout and no hope of a better job might make her rethink her priorities. Step back and let her grow up.

IceCubes Thu 05-Jul-12 13:15:24

I would skip the tutor and go straight for the dean of the university. Write down all of the extenuating circumstances and beg to resit the first year. On most courses you simply need to PASS rather than achieve a certain grade. Is there no way of her resitting exams during the summer holiday? Are there certain modules that have let her average down? She needs to get 40% to pass so she's not far off really.

If she's struggling it may not be for her. 40% would be a third class honours at the end of the course. She needs to do what is best for her at the end of the day and if it's that bad she might be better off doing something else.

AMumInScotland Thu 05-Jul-12 13:18:32

I know it's tricky, but you have to realise that a 19yo at university is quite different form a 17yo at school. I'm a little surprised that the people you've been calling haven't said clearly "If your daughter wants to discuss this then she will have to contact us about it" as, honestly, it is none of your business.

Your daughter has chosen not to sort this out earlier in the year. You need to sit her down and talk about what she wants to do about this, and how she sees herself moving forward from here. If she wants to ask the university about her grades, and what options she might have there, then it's up to her to call and arrange to see them. Othersied she needs to be thinking about a longer term job - whether that's on a checkout or something else - and you need to think how you plan to arrange practicalities/finances.

I've alsways takent the view that non-students in the household should be paying their way, but that's for you to negotiate.

nemno Thu 05-Jul-12 13:19:19

I really do sympathise bebemoose, I was in exactly this position 4 years ago. The thing is that although I felt sick to the pit of my stomach for months I felt it was really important to let my adult child sort it out themselves. I discussed and supported of course but it was my son that did all the ringing around, attempting to get on another course etc. In the end what he decided to do was take a year out while applying again as this gave him far more options than a panic short term decision.

He got a job, applied through UCAs and was accepted at his first choice uni for the following year. He graduates this month with a 2.1 and has got a graduate career all sorted and is starting his dream job on Aug 1st.

We had to take a hit on paying the rent on his student digs until he could find a replacement tenant. Again, he had to do this himself.

Honestly it was dreadful at the time but he grew up so much in the process that I really think overall it was a valuable experience.

Incaminka Thu 05-Jul-12 13:21:46


I failed my first year. Immature, lazy, too caught up in the going-out-socialising side of it all (I had been in a convent to be fair). I knew it was going to happen and I lied to parents because I didn't want to disappoint them. When they found out my Dad and I fell out big time, mainly because of the lies.

I then worked for a year, starting off in the pub which led to a great summer 18-30 type job and a skiing job in the winter. I learned to focus.

I applied for a less prestigious uni doing a course I loved (originally I was doing classics and wasn't very well supported in the Greek side of it, I then went on to do Eng Lit with creative writing.) My parents were very supportive, but didn't push me to go again, it was me that decided I was ready. I got a good degree. It wasn't a disaster. I know it is disappointing and worrying, but it happens a lot. She will get a degree if she really wants one. If she doesn't she will do something else. Meanwhile she has wonderful parents and she is still your lovely daughter. Some people take longer to grow up.

Gumby Thu 05-Jul-12 13:22:16

I'd suggest she either contacts the uni herself and sorts it out or starts looking for a permanent job & move out

Is her job temporary? At least she's got one


Incaminka Thu 05-Jul-12 13:22:36

PS I went to Cambridge as a post-grad in the end! Something extra to prove!!! ;-)

Indith Thu 05-Jul-12 13:29:58

My first year marks were shite really, I did enough to staay at uni but not much more because like most 18 year olds I was too busy having fun and enjoying being a fresher. Most of us pull our socks up for exams, some leave it a little too late and fail. I'm afraid it sounds like your dd just had a bit too much fun really. I'd suggest she thinks about what she really wants to do and applies for uni again, a little older and wiser. She won't make the same mistake again.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 05-Jul-12 13:30:06

Hi OP, I'm so sorry for your stress.

You have two wonderful events in your life, a daughter with a 1st class degree and another about to get married. Don't let this issue overshadow their achievements / happiness.

Having worked at a university I would advise, no matter how hard it is, to leave this mess entirely to your daughter.

If she is bright and motivated she will find her way in the world, with or without a University education. At 19 you really need to step back and let her make her own mistakes, which she will learn from I'm sure.

fluffyanimal Thu 05-Jul-12 13:30:55

I'm sorry this has upset you so much, but I agree 100% with ProvincialLady that you really need to leave it up to your daughter to sort out. I say this as a university lecturer.

If you can't get hold of any staff, this is because once results are out, support staff take their annual leave and tutors either take annual leave or go on research trips and can be away from the office for much of the summer. However, even if you could, there is a possibility they would not discuss anything with you. At my institution, we are not allowed to discuss our students with anyone but themselves, unless they expressly contact us to say that we can deal with nominated individuals. This is because students are over 18 and it is also a data protection issue.

A few things you might discuss with your daughter.
1: re being dyslexic and being allowed extra time in assessments. At my institution, you need not just a confirmation of diagnosis but to be in receipt of disability support allowance to qualify for extra time. There may not have been time to apply for DSA if she only got diagnosed near the end of the year.
2. The first year at university is not a free ride. Even if the marks count only to allow her to progress to the next year of study and do not count towards the final year, students who do well in their first years are much more likely to go on and do well in their finals. Students can be debarred from taking resits if their attendance is poor and if they were warned about that attendance and did not provide any evidence of mitigating circumstances. If she didn't respond to warnings and didn't come up with any doctor's letters for illness or similar, then there is little that can be done.
3. University is not just about studying; it's about learning to be responsible for yourself, managing your own study. If she couldn't respond to attendance warnings, or provide the proper documentation about illness absences, then I'm afraid that's her fault.
4. Find out whether she in fact enjoyed the course or whether it turned out not to be what she expected, whether in terms of difficulty or content. Maybe uni isn't for her or maybe this particular course isn't for her but she could apply for something else through clearing in August and still be on a course somewhere in September.

Either way, hopefully this will be a salutary lesson for her and she will grow up a bit.

ivykaty44 Thu 05-Jul-12 13:34:52

Just remember it is really important to fail, it is also very important that when you do fail you are allowed to pick up your own failure and sort it out how you wish.

That way you learn

So please stop, pedal backwards, make tea and cake and leave your adult daughter to learn

fluffyanimal Thu 05-Jul-12 13:35:02

And actually, just re-reading your OP, WTAF you cancelled celebrations for your older daughter graduating with a first??? shock

Procrastinating Thu 05-Jul-12 13:43:10

I was 'asked to leave' my first university for low grades & non-attendance of tutorials. A few years later when I had worked and grown up a bit I went to a different university and ended up with a first. I simply wasn't ready & had other priorities at 18.
It is not a disaster for your daughter by any means, I agree with the others- leave her to sort it out so she can work out what she actually wants to do.

Libra Thu 05-Jul-12 13:51:53

Another university lecturer here.

I agree with the others - I simply would not be allowed to speak to you as her parent. I could only discuss the situation with your daughter. I would recommend that she email her course leader rather than try to telephone. I am in and out of the office at the moment and in a lot of research meetings. Therefore I am easier to contact by email.

Note that there is a time limit at my university on appeals - 20 days after the receipt of the notification of results.

I would base any appeal around mitigating circumstances - it might be possible for her to resit the year.

But I also agree that university may just not be her thing at the moment. There is nothing worse than a reluctant student who does not want to be there and is failing to achieve. She might also feel that she is being compared to her sister and, if she is unlikely to get a first, it would be better not to get anything at all.

Good luck, but you need to let her sort it out (or not sort it out) herself.

albertswearengen Thu 05-Jul-12 13:55:56

I agree with the others who say she needs to sort it out herself. If you do this for her and get her into second year I suspect the same thing will happen again. She has to really want to be there and the fact she doesn't seem bothered means she doesn't care or just expects someone to sort it out for her.

It happens to lots of kids -both my sister and my cousin failed their first year at University and a couple of years out working in rubbish jobs and watching how their friends and siblings were moving on to better things made them realise they needed to go to back University for a reason.

I know you want your dd not to mess up her life but she is still young and this is not the end of the world. In this economic climate a poor degree is just a waste of money and more of a hindrance.

OliviaSvelteMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 05-Jul-12 13:56:19



I failed my first year. Immature, lazy, too caught up in the going-out-socialising side of it all (I had been in a convent to be fair). I knew it was going to happen and I lied to parents because I didn't want to disappoint them.

Incaminka are you me? blush
OP, it does all work out in the end.

NoComet Thu 05-Jul-12 15:08:08

I failed my first year, just doing the wrong course.

My Dad did write a letter for me, can't remember the details, it's a very long time ago.
I resat and failed my exams (I shouldn't have done resat but I'd never failed an exam in my life).
After failing again, I took a year out and went back to do the course I should have done. (And would have done if I'd got my A'Level results before applying.)

I Ioved it and got a 2i

I'm guessing in these days of helicopter parents, universities want to deal with the student directly. However, they only know who signed the email not who helped draft itwink

Please be supportive, it's not a nice thing to go through.

cory Thu 05-Jul-12 17:41:24

Another university lecturer here and I agree with everything fluffyanimal said.

If she hasn't got the basic maturity to organise such things as doctor's letters, then she is unlikely to have the required maturity to cope with Yrs 2 and 3 too, so it is doubtful if letting her stay on the course would do her any favours.

And really, for you to see her tutor to discuss her marks would be absolutely out of the question- it would be like your husband asking to see your employer to discuss why you had been sacked from a job. You just can't do that with another adult's life.

But she should try emailing her tutors- email rather than phone as they are likely to be away on research trips and conferences at this time of year.

Brightspark1 Thu 05-Jul-12 20:05:17

Are you sure she is just putting on a brave face? She may have realised that she was doing the wrong course, at the wrong uni, or not ready for uni and may be relieved that she is not going back after the summer. Step back and give her some space to work it out for herself. Oh and have that celebration for your other daughter- that sounds a bit harsh

bebemoose Thu 05-Jul-12 23:13:05

Thank you for all your replies. I have had a talk with my daughter and it seems that when she was sent the email about poor attendance she had not missed any lectures up to that point. She also had a tutor report at that time which listed attendance as 'good', so she was very confused. She was actually ill when she received that email and was so worried she went into class poorly. Her grades were all Bs and C's which would lead anyone to believe they were doing OK. However, at the beginning of the year she also had 2 F's in one subject, and at the end of the year the last assignment in the same subject was not handed in, as she went several times to the lecturer at the appointed place and time and could not find her. We, of course, said she should have contacted her tutor and explained the situation, not just left it, which is probably evidence of her immaturity in dealing with this sort of thing, and so she had 3 Fs and one B in that subject in the end.

She does like the course and wants to stay on if possible. It seems that she is not very good at standing up for herself when tutors do not help when asked, and the whole class repeatedly asked for a marking scheme with assignment weightings which was actually denied them - as they would be 'chasing marks'. How on earth were they supposed to know which assignments to spend the most/least time on without a marking scheme?

I'm sorry I didnt make it clear in my OP that I did not expect that anyone at the uni would talk to me about her marks etc. I was merely trying to get someone to make us an appointment so that we could go together to discuss it. There is no way I could let her sort this out by herself - she wouldn't be brave enough or ask the right questions.

I do take the point that if she is not mature enough to be able to organise her uni life without parental input she may benefit from a year or two out of uni. Unfortunately I have no idea what she will do instead (her job is seasonal, so only for the summer), but I can see that this may well be what has to be done.

Yes I did cancel the celebrations for my first daughter - she understood - we were all feeling very miserable and not in the mood. It's just a shame that it put a damper over her day too.

Again - thank you for the input - She has emailed her tutor asking for a meeting, so we will see what happens.

OP’s posts: |
OliviaLMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 06-Jul-12 01:04:55

Good luck to her. As per my post above. I just also didn't really know how to deal with university/how to study/what the tutors/lecturers wanted. I thought it was great that I only had 8 compulsory hours of lectures a week but I was not mature enough to get what I should have been doing for the rest of the time. (I went age 17) and just buried my head in the sand in a major way.
I realise now that tutorial style would have been better for me (I like talking, ask Justine grin). <overshares>

Anyway as I said Best of luck.

SmileItsSunny Fri 06-Jul-12 05:09:57

I have a similar story to Olivia and Inca. In retrospect I was just not ready at 18. I worked through the summer then applied for the same course at a different university, through clearing. The second time round I was petrified of missing any lectures! I have now been working in my field for 10 years. Keep lines of communication open with your daughter, she may be embarrassed, ashamed, disappointed in herself - she needs to know that you love her regardless.

Chubfuddler Fri 06-Jul-12 05:25:37

You need to let her sort this out herself. The fact you say "there is no way I could let her sort this out herself" speaks volumes. Its also telling that you e posted on teenagers - yes by the skin of her teeth she's a teen but she's over 18 and has to take some responsibility for herself. Words fail me about just not handing in an assignment because she couldn't get hold of the tutor - something about that doesn't stack up I'm afraid. When I was at university all assignments had to be handed in to the faculty office. I believe many now accept submission to a secure email. Sounds like she's struggled to keep on top of her work and that's just an excuse.

I know it's hard to see her "fail" but it could be the best thing for her. My brother dropped out of university at the start of his second year, worked as a hospital cleaner and then an auxiliary while he sorted himself out, then went on to do his nursing degree. Fifteen years on you'd never know he'd had a shaky start.

cory Fri 06-Jul-12 08:01:27

I see how difficult this is for you all and I do see how these things can happen.

But this sentence is still a worry: "There is no way I could let her sort this out by herself - she wouldn't be brave enough or ask the right questions."

You do realise, don't you, that at university you are expected to take the same level of responsibility as in a real job or on an apprentice program.

Supposing your dd had decided not to go to university but had taken a full-time job instead- would you really be saying that you had to be present when she spoke to her employer because there is no way she could manage it on her own?

There is no getting round the fact that your dd is now an adult and has to live her own adult life.

Again, see what you're doing here: "Unfortunately I have no idea what she will do instead (her job is seasonal, so only for the summer), but I can see that this may well be what has to be done." You think of finding her a job as something you have to have an idea about, something that has to be done for her, not she has to actively do.

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