23 answers

College Student Who Hates Her College

I have a 18yr old who just started college. Its been a rough start to say the least for her. She is attending a very Large college (33,000) and Its considered the number 12 party school in the u.s. Needless to say she picked this college for the writing program and not for the party part but is having a hard time fitting in because she doesnt drink. She also says she hates campus because it is so hard to get around. (busing is the only way) Well I understand her dislikes, I dont just want her to give in and not try. On the other hand she is so unhappy. I incouraged her to get out and meet people and so she decided to go to a meet and greet with another floor from a different dorm. They were to all meet in the caf. and get something to eat and sit together. After she got there, got her food and was walking over to the tables she fell on a wet floor and all her food ended up on her head. She had to leave and shower and after would not go back because she was embarassed :/ My question is should I help her look into smaller colleges so she can transfer at the end of the semester (told her she HAD to at least give it a try for that long)
or just keep pushing her out there? She doesnt ask to come home and says she is not homesick but just doesnt like the campus :/

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Just an update on what I've done so far. My daughter is still attending the same college and has started working two jobs (about 25 hours total per week) one on campus as the desk clerk at her dorm and another at a mall. This has helped a little because she is busy and not complaining :p she still hasn't met any friends or found her group (prob. cuz she is going 24-7) We have talked about her wanting to move to a smaller school where she can do cheer leading and choir and other stuff of her interests. I told her she could go to a expensive local college if she lived at home (her response was NO WAY am I moving back home lol) so I am going to take her on a couple of smaller college visits and wait for her to fill out the application and start the process if she decides it something she wants to do. In the mean time still encouraging her to get involved on campus as much as she can in hopes that things will get better where she is :)

Thanks to all of you for the great advice!

Featured Answers

I personally do not think college is for everyone. Maybe she should take a break and get a job in the field that she likes and see if she even NEEDS a degree......

If she hates it that bad, I think you should let her step out of it. Sit down with her and have a heart to heart and see what SHE wants to truely do. It is her life. If she quits, she can always start up again. My sister went to college when she was about 25. AND her JOB PAYED for part of it!!! So she may be better off waiting.

Good luck.

Have her rush!! In other words have her look into the Greek houses on campus. I was not really a drinker, and I wasn't really a fan of being around a bunch of girls but it was an amazing experience for me and many of my friends. I got to know many other 1st years and we did a lot of volunteer work and I skipped the big parties. Many of the houses are dry now so you can't drink in them unless they have houses outside of campus. Don't believe all the stuff you see on TV they help with grades because you have to keep a GPA to stay in the house, they will help with jobs and housing. It will make her stay a little more fun. It was what saved me from leaving campus early the first year! Lots of luck and have her try to rush even if she doesn't like the idea she will meet friends and she doesn't have to pick a house to rush it's a great way to meet people w/o getting into a house.

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As hard as it is to allow her to figure this out herself, that is what you need to do. She is the one who is going through the experience and needs to take control of her life.

Just listen, supportively. With you as an understanding soundboard for her struggles, she WILL figure it out. Settle in with the phone when she calls. Listen for ways that you can show support and faith in her abilities to handle this regardless of her decision. Validate her feelings. Empathize. Ask questions that encourage her to use resources like, "what does your advisor think about that?" or, "has your RA been helpful?"

If your daughter asks you directly what to do, just help her think through everything by gently asking her more problem-solving questions.

I know this is difficult, because I have two children in college! It's quite a shift from our role when they are living at home. At this point, though, they are adults and bear the responsibility for their own decisions. It's kind of nice, once you get used to it, to see how they really can do this, and to no longer be the decision-maker for anyone except one's self!

1 mom found this helpful

Years ago I read a quote that served me well as my daughters were growing up. It was "A mother is not to lean on, but to make leaning unnecessary." At this point in her life it is time to listen and love, but not make decisions for her or try to direct her. Assure her that you trust her to figure it out, even if it's rough for a while. If she asks you what to do, ask her what she wants--and encourage her to trust her wants and follow them.
Find some other interests of your own, too, so you can model independence and moving forward for her. Love, guide, and let go. Take a deep breath and celebrate how far you've come in your mom-journey!

1 mom found this helpful

I think you should help her look into smaller schools, especially since the commitment is already made through the semester. There is no harm in the looking and it communicates clearly to her that you are on her side and working FOR her, not against her wishes. That is so important at these ages when our children are really becoming very independent, but still need us to support them. The harder she feels you are working for her own cause, the more apt she will be to listen to what you have to say in general. And in the meantime she will be meeting people, learning the bus routes/schedules, etc..., getting used to all of the details concerning her classes and campus life, and moving that meet and greet episode farther and farther back in history! (You and I know that time will eventually change it from mortifying to funny--but don't tell her that just yet:))

It is so difficult to be 18 and in a new situation like she is. I would say have her hang in there for at least a semester. She will find friends as she goes to classes and just hangs out on campus. If this school has the best program for her then she needs to stick it out. She will be fine.

I would let her decide how seriously she dislikes the place by leaving it up to her to apply to other schools, find out when/how she could transfer, etc. In other words, don't discourage her, but don't help either. If she really does not like it there, she will take the initiative, transfer and hopefully end up in a place more to her liking.

It sounds like she is having trouble finding the kind of people she wants to hang out with -- people who are into writing and not drinking. Is there an Honors College, or a writing club / newspaper etc that she could explore joining? Once she finds "her" people she might be completely happy. But she needs to do a more focused search, not just meet people from another dorm. Unfortunately freshman dorm life can indeed be dominated by the desire to fit in, which most often translates into accepting the culture of partying and drinking. If you are not into that, it's easy to feel like an alien. I am not sure that smaller colleges are any different in this aspect -- I just really don't know.

Just one more note: Great unhappiness your freshman year can really cause havoc on your academics. For this reason alone, and in order to support your daughter's writing aspirations, I would suggest being supportive of her efforts to change schools, if that is what she decides to pursue.

But again, I think the best measure of how seriously she wants to go will be the amount of time and effort she will put into finding a different school. Support her in that.


You know your daughter best. Was she outgoing in high school or more of a homebody. My youngest is now in her second year at school five hours away. I remember hoping that she would "fit in" and find her place. Luckily she was one of the few who had a great roommate and they were friends right off the bat. You say she isn't asking to come home so maybe she could just try it for this first semester while she figures out somewhere smaller to go to school. If she starts sounding totally depressed, etc. I would no doubt bring her home. The money would be wasted but really if she is miserable how can she focus? I've always been a stick-it-out kind of mom but if she's is miserable, she's miserable.

It sometimes takes quite a while to make it feel like home. One thing I'd like to say about the drinking - I had friends that never drank, but you wouldn't really know it - a glass full of 7-up is ambiguous - it doesn't mean you can't join in the fun.

I went to a large college, too (large # of people AND a large campus--bussing required, unless you had a bike). It does take some time to get adjusted, but I would give it a year, actually--usually by the end of the first semester, you are just finally getting into the swing of things so the 2nd semester goes better. And one thing you can do as a mom that my parents did was send me cards and a "care package" on a regular basis full of little treats and goodies. She'll start meeting people from her classes and it'll get better!

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