The rose colored glasses have come off, and my greatest fear has happened....my S believes he made a mistake with his college choice, and has already spoken the "transfer" word. This is what has happened in the last week....
Move in went well, but it was apparent early on that S had little in common with his roommates other than the fact that they are all OOS. The other 3 boys have spent most nights drinking and partying, to the point where the RA came into the suite the night of the Nelly concert and told the kids to quiet down and dump the liquor. My S was in his room mostly, but did attend the concert with everyone at my encouragement. S doesn't mind others drinking, but he doesn't tolerate the "out of hand" partying that is going on. I wish the RA planned some floor activities for these kids....in fact, I have encouraged my son to talk with his RA about the struggles he is having.
He has been to the rec center twice, and has attended all of his classes (at least the ones where the professor showed up!) He goes to the dining hall with his roommates, and last night he was at a neighbor's suite to watch a movie. He hasn't been able to "click" with someone that he feels comfortable with. He is part of the Engineering Mentor program, and they have a dinner scheduled for tomorrow night. I am hoping a kindred spirit is in that group! I wish Get on Board Day happened sooner in the transition process!
His comments to me are that he misses home, family and friends much more than he ever thought he would, and he feels that "everyone" he meets is only interested in getting wasted. He is stressed, not by his classes, but by the fact that he feels SO ALONE! I am so glad that he hasn't completely retreated to his room, but knowing his personality, I think the window of opportunity for him to turn around his feelings is closing fast.
I told him that I wouldn't entertain the idea of a transfer until he truly gives UA an honest effort, which I know he is doing. HOW do I find someone at the university to contact who can help my S plug into the "non-sloppy drunk, fun, confident" kids that he thought would be coming out of the woodwork of UA? Does anyone else have the same issues? I don't want him to be so unhappy, and of course he doesn't want to feel this way either.
I know nothing about U of A, but I also went to a big state flagship. One of the things I noticed is that the guys especially had that "wow, I'm on my own and can party whenever I want!" syndrome the first half of the first year. Your son needs to give it time and see if he can meet people in his major, who I bet are more studious than your average freshman. The first week or two is always insane. It's not necessarily an indication of how all four years will go.
It's true that at first, many kids party a lot when they first go away to school. No one is there to tell them to go to bed, get up, give restrictions, etc.
I think relying on roomies to be your friends isn't a good idea. My older son rarely had things in common with randomly chosen roomies. He found his friends thru classes, clubs, etc.
Classes only began on Wednesday. Sounds like he's an eng'g major. He'll meet more like minded kids in his classes. The Freshman Eng'g Program has a lot of group hands on projects which helps build friendships.
Is Get on Board Day this week or next? That will also help.
My son has already plugged in with the St. Francis Catholic student center. He has been to at least 3 events and has even gotten friendly with some young ladies. I don't know if you're Catholic, but if not, there are other churches on campus with vibrant student ministries. Even kids who aren't ultra-religious tend to latch onto these groups sometimes because the are an outlet for involvement and making friends.
If by chance you are Catholic, tell your kid to go to 7 pm mass tonight. There is a pizza party and info fair after mass.
Being homesick is very common among students going away for college. Some will readily admit it, but some won't. Leaving a girlfriend or boyfriend behind can make this worse.
Making new friends will take time. I agree with M2CK, that it isn't a good idea to rely on roommates to be friends or for social interaction. Sharing a living space with strangers, or even with someone you've known, can be a difficult adjustment. Remember those childhood sleepovers when you simply couldn't wait for the guests to leave?
If the partying and drinking doesn't settle down and it is really an issue for your son, I'd suggest your son speak with his Community Director. If any resident of the room is under 21, which I'm guessing is the case, alcohol isn't allowed in the common areas of the room. That certainly doesn't mean it won't happen, but it isn't allowed. Switching rooms may be a possibility if the problem persists. It's important to realize this may not lead to a perfect situation either. I can assure you this....all of the kids are not partying or drinking on campus. In time, he'll be able to meet and identify other students who share his interests if he is willing to put himself out there.
There are many active church related activities for various denominations if he is interested. I would encourage him to visit and see if he finds a fit. If not, try something else. First Baptist Church has an active ministry for college students and the church embraces UA students. In addition to worship on Sunday, FBC college students meet for EPIC, a Bible study/social on Tuesday evenings. They also have optional social gatherings and trips for students.
As parents, none of us want to see our children unhappy. I think giving it some time is the right way to go. I would encourage your son to give it a semester or two before considering a transfer if at all possible. If you don't have a Skype account, try setting up one soon. I hope things begin to look up for your son soon.
With a year of high school for my daughter left to go, I don't have any sage advice but I do want to say I'm sorry your son's transition isn't the best at this moment. I am sure it will get better, though.
I do want to say I'm concerned about your statement that the professors aren't showing up for their classes! Hopefully that is a small minority! After a great visit this week, that does give us some pause.
next year, we need to remind new students and parents not to rely on roomies for friendships.
Some kids end up missing out on many of the WOW week activities because their roomies aren't going. Some think that they can't show up at a WOW activity alone, but the truth is, many students do and immediately meet others to share the Wow experience with.
Dent? Is your child in Honors? If so, there will be some Honors activities as well. I know that the CBHers have an Ice Cream Social today.
I will be contacting Dr. Sharpe soon about another issue, and I will include a question about the social plans for the Honors College.
When my older son started his PhD program (one of the elite schools), he HATED it at first. Didn't know anyone, everything was strange and different, there were a million hiccups with his grad school apt - including his being switched at the last minute to a pricier unit without consent AND then finding out the day before that the current occupant hadn't yet moved out and they would switch him again to an even pricier unit! He, too, was missing his friends and family that were now several states away. (BTW...anyone who thinks smaller privates have their acts together and give more personal attention, needs to think again. lol...I have more stories than this!)
Things have a way of calming down after a few weeks.
S is in a similar situation. 2 of his roommates are trying to get into frats and the 3rd is talking about pledging next year. Greek life is definitely not my son's thing. When I was there and met his roommates, the first time they met me, they were openly talking about looking for ping pong balls in front of me (beer pong). My S who has had beer before and like me, just really doesn't like the taste, has said that 'everyone' is telling him he just needs to get over his dislike.
His roommates are friendly and invited him to dinner one evening while I was on campus and he intially declined and I encouraged him to go and try to get along with them even if they weren't going to be friends.
My son was in OA and met a few kids that way that he's more comfortable with.
He hasn't met many kids in class yet becaues only about half his classes met last week - his lab was cancelled, his engineering class was cancelled, his Spanish class was cancelled.
I know the civil engineering department is doing a BBQ next week and that would make me think that other engineering departments might be doing something similar. Part of that event is to learn about and join the engineering department groups, which I've told my son he needs to do because apart from meeting people who are like minded, it demonstrates an interest that expands past the classroom on resumes later on.
I also wish they did get on board day earlier. I know last year WOW only lasted 1 week, so I assume Get on Board day was at the end of that week, this year they expanded WOW to 2 weeks and I think they should have scheduled Get on Board day between the 2 weeks instead of at the end of the 2nd week. Get on Board day is happening Thursday night (the 30th). I also know that after Get on Board day the video gaming club ABXY is meeting in the Ferg. I've encouraged my son to go to that first meeting because even if he chooses not to stay involved in the club, he might be able to meet more people that have similar interests to him there.
The religious groups are a good idea for students who are religious. And I noticed that many of the WOW events seemed to be sponsored by relgious groups, but for those like my son that are not religious, it would be nice to have a wider vareity of events during WOW. I did encourage him to go to the text message scavenger hunt, but don't know if he did or not. He did not go to the night at the Rec because he didn't know anyone else who was going and didn't want to go alone.
I think once the clubs and groups get going and students are able to find their niche and find the people that have their interests in the sea of nearly 30,000 that they will feel more comfortable there. Even though my son was able to meet some other students through OA, feeling like you only have 1 or 2 friends when your roommates are going out to parties every night, leaves you feeling like a bit of a social outcast. I'm really hoping that after the engineering clubs start meeting and Get on Board day happens that he's able to find where he fits in on campus.
Denthyg, I am so sorry your son is experiencing homesickness. It is an terrible feeling for him and you. Homesickness makes a parent feel helpless and the student feel lonely and unsure about himself. But you both have to hang on to the fact that these feeling are temporary the vast majority of the time. DS might be feeling a bit shocked and unfamiliar with how he is feeling. Many students do not realize that they can take steps to work on how they are feeling. Once they realize they do have some control over this situation, they make great improvement.
I've been in your shoes many times. Shoot, I have one daughter that still gets homesick everytime she leaves home (she is a senior and traveled abroad extensively). We still go through what we now call an adjustment period. I seem to always get a tearful phone call or two. But now, between the tears she talks about knowing the feeling is irrational and how silly she feels when the homesickness hits. Even though she knows it is temporary now, it doesn't change the feelings of homesickness she is experiencing at the time.. She gets through it...and goes on to have amazing experiences....always looking forward to her next adventure. But, at the beginning of the next adventure, I always know there will be a few tearful phone calls.
From our experience, I can only offer these thoughts (and a big virtual hug):
The best thing about your son's situation is that he admitted how he is feeling. Let him call and listen. But, try not to call him too often. Let him know that his feeling are normal (tell him if you have experienced homesickness) and most often temporary. During the call, ask him talk about at least one positive thing about his college experience. Encourage him to talk to his RA. In most cases, the RA will make special efforts to help him find a connection. If he asks about home, tell him what is going on. The everyday boring things.
Send a care package with a letter from home. Favorite cookies, pictures etc. Think things that comfort him. Home is still part of who he is.
Remember, he is looking at this as a four year jail sentence right now (my daughter's words not mine). Is he coming home for Thanksgiving or Winter Break? We always have a countdown and look forward to our reunion.
Make a deal with him that he will give BAMA an honest try for at least a semester (yes, he might say it is a long time, but much shorter than four years). Remind him how fast his last semester of high school went. During this time, encourage him to continue to try to find his place.
I also highly recommend that he does not study in his room. A quiet place in the library still includes being surrounded by other people. Isolation is his enemy.
Lastly, tell him not to be so hard on himself or the university. High expectations should be managed during this transition. My daughter expressed feelings of failure (that she made a bad choice in universities). But, I gently reminded her of a saying used around this house. Failing is not falling down. Failing is not getting back up. Encourage him to get back up...keep trying to make those important connections and to look for the positive in his situation...no matter how small at the beginning.
This talk of not getting along with roommates makes me sad, and should be a reminder to incoming families to use the roommate finder process that UA offers. (You cannot access until you've paid your housing deposit.) Although the initial questions will not give you enough info to get to know roommates very well, it can narrow down your student's search for compatible suite-mates from the start. Future families: encourage your kids to really use this tool as a way to get an initial list of possible roommates...then have your son/daughter contact each one and ask questions about their habits. If you aren't into greek, you should know that rooming with greek roommates might prove difficult - and please don't jump on my back about that comment, either - yes, some will get along, sure, but there is the possibility that some will not. It's no different if you know you're uber religious and your roommates are not. Yes, you might all get along, but there is the potential that you may not.
Your kids can tell a lot about a person's taste in music, books, hobbies, especially if they take the time to contact future roommates well ahead of room selection. If they can communicate about things they have in common and things they do not, they can head off a lot of conflict by doing so. Roommate Finder is not perfect by any stretch, but if you and your families invest time and effort into it, you can get fairly compatibly roommate matches that could avoid major clashes and conflicts.
I'm very sorry, Denthyg. Hang in there, as others suggest, and I'm sure things can be improved. PM me if you want.
OP, my son is not a partier and I am sure there are a lot more like him on campus. It has only been 2 weeks, and the kids haven't even attended all their classes yet. If your s is at all reserved like my s, it takes time to meet people and really "click". His expectations were high, and right now he is disappointed. He has to lower his expectations a little (after all every school has its good and its bad) and give UA and himself some time. I've only talked to my S 2 times and each time he said everything was OK. He also said he was going to the events he knew about (sometimes alone) so I am happy he is putting himself "out there." (His only complaint was he has a hard time understanding one of his teachers.) Random roommates are not instant friends, and you cannot expect them to be (although you hope.) The nice thing about UA is there are ALOT of students and groups out there, and given time he will find his niche. That is what I am hoping for my son and yours.
I don't know if transferring would make any difference. I felt the same way in college- it seemed everyone was going crazy... and it was a similar experience with my kids. None of us were partiers (thank goodness). This seems to happen in a lot of places. It is kind of a shock to serious kids, and to me, as a parent, a real shame considering parents foot the bill for kids to go off and do this nonsense..
Please encourage your son to hang in there and find his niche. He could transfer, but it is way too soon to tell, and he could end up in a similar situation somewhere else as partying is so common.
Encourage him to join his religious group- whatever one that is, an academic club, and any other group where he is likely to find like minded students. As to the room mate- they can live separate lives as long as they are each considerate of the other and designate the room as a no party zone. The room mate can go party in plenty of other places.
The most important thing is to get out there and meet new people. Students should try new things and continue to pursue anything for which they have an interest.
Just to be clear and not meant to be argumentative, when I suggest students consider looking into local church groups I'm not suggesting anyone must be extremely religious. I would think it would be a bit awkward if one has no interest in religion, but it isn't necessary to be ultra religious to attend church sponsored social events. While my D did grow up attending to church, she has friends who attend some of the events and didn't.
I agree, if not going Greek it might be best to look for roommates who also aren't going Greek.
It's great to be friendly with your roommates or even friends if it works out. Just don't be dependent upon roommates for social interaction or friendship. That doesn't always work out. It is possible to get along in some cases, but a few will find they ended up with incompatible roommates despite their best efforts during the selection process and since move in. We've experienced both situations and it can be tough. Sometimes the situation will be one that can be tolerated for a year, but occasionally it won't be. Fortunately, the year passes quickly and students will be better prepared to select roommates from those they've met during their first year on campus.
His only complaint was he has a hard time understanding one of his teachers.
Which class? Mine says this too but he also said he'll get used to it. In high school he had a native Indian teacher who spent her teens in the UK as his Spanish teacher - after that, I think he'll learn to decipher anyone given time