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Daughter at University not settling in

(46 Posts)
Rosirose Thu 13-Oct-16 08:50:38

I sure it's common but I'm so worried about my dd. She is very bright but has zero confidence. She insisted on doing 4 A'levels and nearly gave herself a breakdown in the process. She got 4 A*'s and has just gone to University. The reason I mention the grades is that she must be bright, (all her teachers had nothing but praise for her, two even saying she was the most talented person they had every taught) yet she has called me in tears for the last three days saying she can't do the work, university isn't for her and she doesn't know what work she should be doing. (Lectures only started this week!) During the summer she had two short romances (her first) and was like a different person, positive, bright and happy. I don't want her to stay at university and work all the time, I want her to enjoy herself. I also don't understand why she should find the work so hard when there are many people on her course who have lower grades than her and don't seem to be worried. She says university isn't for her and I have suggested she gives it a full term before she decides but if she stays in her
current mindset she will just go back into her shelI. I have also told her to join the gym and sign up for the hockey team as she loves sport. What else can I do to help. (She is also a long way from home so she can't come home for the week-ends although I have said I will go and visit her). Her course is science based so there is loads of contact time. I also told her that when the small tutorial groups are arranged maybe she can get together a study buddy group which hopefully will make her realise that she doesn't need to work quite so hard.

Bobochic Thu 13-Oct-16 08:53:57

Maybe she needs a gap year to recharge her batteries?

Aliveinwanderland Thu 13-Oct-16 08:57:13

It maybe isn't the level of the work she is struggling with, its the structure of it. She would have been set tasks and exercises at school whereas now it's lots of independent study. She may just been feeling that she needs to work and yet doesn't really know what to do.

Can you encourage her to ask her tutor for a tutorial so she can get some guidance on what she should be doing? Most students at this point in term will be doing very little outside of lectures unless there are guided tasks to do.

cookiefiend Thu 13-Oct-16 08:58:06

Look at her student union/ association online. They usually offer loads of support in different ways so you may get some idea there. It sounds like this is just a leaving home wobble.

Sport is good and also societies- so find one she might like- there are some thjngs whichv will attract people more reserved like she is. Encourage her to go. Send a care package.

Also try not to tjjnk of it as the whole term, it came be very long. Even through she is far away can you break it down a bit? You visit her after three weeks, then her dad or a sibling or friend or something. It is a bit less daunting that way.

AndShesGone Thu 13-Oct-16 08:58:08

She needs to stay the first term, it's confusing for them the first few weeks of learning as the style is different and its so much more self directed.

Ohtobeskiing Thu 13-Oct-16 08:59:26

Is there a society associated with her course? Maybe talking to 2nd or 3rd years would reassure her about how she is feeling but also help her with what/how she should be working. My ds has just graduated and they had a facebook chat group for their course (it was quite a small course) where they would seek help and advice from each other on work - as well as chat and make social arrangements!!

Didijustgetwinkpointshitcanned Thu 13-Oct-16 08:59:28

I agree about structure. School and college is very much "learn all this stuff and regurgitate it for the essay/exam". University is different and it can be hard to adjust.

Lancelottie Thu 13-Oct-16 09:01:47

That's hard for both of you, but so, so common -- dare I say it, especially amongst the very bright ones who are used to being at the top of the class.

DS (also brandishing multiple A*, though not quite so many!) had a hellish start last year, to the point that he has restarted the first year just this week. (hmm, wonder if they're at the same place!)

Help will be available, but getting a despairing teenager to go and find it can be very difficult.

Actual tips: does she know her timetable? DS was permanently behind or lost because it took him weeks to work out where he should be (or rather, should have been). Do the lecturers have something like 'open hours' where bewildered students can drop in for help? Again, DS didn't realise this existed till rather too late.

And if she recognises any other students from her hall/course/walking route, can she nerve herself to suggest a coffee/cake/beer together? The place will be crammed with anxious teenagers barely holding it together under the surface.

IminaPickle Thu 13-Oct-16 09:03:36

Bloody freshers week knocks them for six. Even if they're not partying all hours they're surrounded by anxious zombies. Agree with pp to give it a term.

juneau Thu 13-Oct-16 09:11:04

I agree with all the above - the change from the rigid structure of school to the much looser, self-guided study at university can be a horrible shock. Your DD sounds like a high achiever who is used to being on top of everything, so if she's feeling like she doesn't know what to do or what is expected of her and when, its easy to see how she might be feeling as she does.

I would advise she contacts her tutor immediately and books an hour with him/her to go through her timetable, make sure she knows exactly where she's going for what and when, and all the deadlines she'll need to meet this term. I'm sure all this information is available somewhere, but perhaps she just doesn't know where to find it and isn't familiar yet with the layout of the campus.

There will also be student support services available for those feeling lost and overwhelmed. You could probably google it yourself (look on the students' association website - there is bound to be a link), and then give her the relevant number to call or place to drop into and speak to someone. If lectures only started this week its normal to feel all at sea. Reassure her that many others will be feeling like this too, even if they're putting on a brave face, and urge her to a) stick with it and b) reach out for support until she feels like she's got the hang of it.

hellsbells99 Thu 13-Oct-16 09:14:56

Op, my DD2 wanted to come home in the first week. She is now in week 4 and very settled. She would still rather be in her own home but that is her nature. She is enjoying her course and her flat mates. She has joined the gym and some societies so is keep busy which I thing is essential. We do FaceTime a few times a week and I know she facetimes her old friends. The best time we have found is around 5.30pm as lectures are finished and everyone is apparently just in their rooms. She has been home once and I have arranged to go and visit. As pp has said, she has also joined chat groups for her course and they are asking each other for help. Hope your DD starts to feel more settled soon. All you can do is encourage. DD1 had problems last year and did not end up completing the year. But the course and uni were not the right fit - she has started again this year and is loving it.

hellsbells99 Thu 13-Oct-16 09:20:25

Also, not sure if you have seen an existing thread about our first years? Quite a few had problems in the first couple of weeks but most are starting to settle.
It is under Higher Education but unfortunately I can't copy the link.

hellsbells99 Thu 13-Oct-16 09:20:59

museumum Thu 13-Oct-16 09:26:04

If she's that bright with those results she probably doesn't need to be working very hard in the first few weeks. It's a levelling time - some students in the class will have Bs in some subjects.
She needs to make sure she really understands her timetable (where, when, lectures, tutorials) and chill out a bit about the work and as you say establish some pastimes sports etc.

Lancelottie Thu 13-Oct-16 09:30:40

...aaand right on cue, DS has just messaged me to say oops, missed a lecture, must have got timetable confused.

YouMakeMyDreams Thu 13-Oct-16 09:41:11

I started as a first year mature student a month and I get how she feels. It is a huge change and I felt so overwhelmed you wouldn't believe. I had serious doubts about whether I'd cope. I felt totally in over my head. A month in I can't say I'm finding it easy but I am feeling differently now. I have a better understanding of my subjects and what I have to do. Tbh some of the lecturers are better than others. One in particular really remembers we are first year students and is great at helping us get to grips with what is expected of us. But we have one that is the polar opposite and I used to feel very very lost in his lectures. But I do feel I'm getting there. I do feel that I'm not the only one in the same situation. Try and keep her calm and suggest she looks for some support. Find that one lecturer she likes answer get her to approach them. Hopefully she will join the sports teams and gym. She will get there and a few weeks in she will feel much better.

Rosirose Thu 13-Oct-16 11:15:20

Thanks for all your messages. To Bobochic, I did want her to have a gap year both dh and I really tried to get her to take one but she didn't want to but yes, we think it was what she needed.

There were so many good suggestions from you thank you. Aliveinwanderland, she has emailed her tutor and is waiting for her to come back to her. She only emailed her yesterday afternoon but hopefully she will reply soon.

Ohtobeskling, I did ask her if there was anyway she could find a 2nd or 3rd year student who she could possible talk to but she said she didn't know how to find one. I'm sure there is a society connected with her course, I will get her to look at that.

Lancelottie and Museumum you both mentioned the timetable. You are right, she is confused by it. She spent 2 days last week during freshers trying to sort it out but as the small tutorial groups haven't been sorted yet, she has no idea when she will be in labs, small group sessions etc. (I did tell her that everyone would be in the same boat but it is doing nothing to alleviate her stress. I will also ask her about Open Hours for bewildered students that seems like a brilliant idea.

and thanks hellsbells99 I will def look at the freshers thread.

All I want is for my dd to be happy and to gain some confidence. She has so much going for her, she is pretty, bright and sporty yet she see's none of it and tells me I'm only saying that because I'm her mother. She also doesn't see herself as a high achiever and spent last year constantly telling me she was the worst in her class at everything and often in tears because she said she didn't get things and everyone else did.

Peebles1 Thu 13-Oct-16 13:06:00

Poor thing, she's really hard on herself isn't she? Maybe remind her of how she felt last year, and yet she got all A stars so was obviously wrong. That might (possibly) make her see that this is probably exactly the same, and if she feels she doesn't understand it then others will definitely feel the same. I warned my DD (has anxiety - but not at all a high flier, scraped in to uni) before she went that she may well not understand her first few lectures (I'd done a recent work related degree so knew the feeling), but that everyone would be the same.

She also didn't understand her timetable and missed two days through illness. When I told her to email her tutor she said: 'should I bother them with stuff like this?'!! They think they're being a bother, that's the trouble. I reminded her how much she's paying, haha!

Agree with all the PPs have said, lots of good advice. Student support sometimes have drop in sessions - sounds like she would benefit from talking to someone. Good luck, hope things improve.

Rosirose Thu 13-Oct-16 13:33:53

Thanks for Student support tip, I will mention it to her. Her tutor came back to her and she saw her this morning although she wasn't very helpful. When my dd asked her whether all the information was in the lecture notes and was there anything else she could be doing her tutor told her it was up to her. My daughter now thinks she needs to make revision notes on every single lecture. She has 6 hours of lectures everyday apart from Wednesday when there are none in the afternoon and Thursday when she only has a couple. Can this be correct?

Rosirose Thu 13-Oct-16 13:36:48

Sorry Peebles1 I'm so caught up in my DD situation and she sounded crap when I just spoke to her. Is your DD in year 1 also and has she settled? I do hope so. It seems that everyone I speak to though of my friends all have kids who are having a "wonderful time" I'm pleased for them but so sad for my DD!!

thesandwich Thu 13-Oct-16 13:43:56

Oh Rosie you must be so worried. I am sorry her tutor wasn't the most helpful- some are not the most people people. Do they have a structure of buddies f older students? Or subject" parents" my dd is meeting hers today- second year's allocated to freshers.
Student support should have info on the website- is she in hall? There should be pastoral help- your dd probably feels she is the only one but they all are in their different ways. Have a read up on " fragile perfects"
Encourage her to reach out- she will get there but it is tough. Timetable sounds right- some sessions might not always happen.

Lancelottie Thu 13-Oct-16 14:11:33

Oh god, is she doing engineering or physics, by any chance? That sounds like the expected kind of workload for those, yes. Sorry.

Rosirose Thu 13-Oct-16 14:14:52

Thanks thesandwich, I really hoped the tutor would be useful. They do have a structure of buddies for freshers and we were advised they try and give them someone doing their course from the year above, but hers is a 4th year maths student and she is doing Biological sciences! I am encouraging her to reach out but everyone seems so much more settled than her (according to my DD) and I also don't want her to alienate any potential friends by being too anxious.

Squirrills Thu 13-Oct-16 14:16:50

Rosie what a worry. Six hours a day seems a lot even for the most intensive course. Is it medicine or maths at a top uni?
Is there a possibility that she is going to more than she needs to?
I ask this because for some courses there are duplicated support sessions for timetable clashes, or catch up sessions for those with knowledge gaps. For example Biologists without maths will have to do some maths sessions.

Making revision notes for every lecture may be a good idea, but she may well be able to get printed copies of lecture notes. DS1 gets these for a token cost and he then works through them after the lecture.

Come over to chat on the Uni freshers thread. Lots more people there. First thread has got to 1000 with lots of us posting about fresher DC -some good some bad experiences here

Rosirose Thu 13-Oct-16 14:17:19

Is that the workload for Biological sciences - please not!!!!

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