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unhappy child

mamanalamamanala 0 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1 New Member
edited January 2011 in Parents Forum
I have a kid who got into an elite school. She is doing very well academically but is struggling socially. She is staying tied to a high school friend and is not really making friends at school, which is causing her to want to come home (3000 miles away.). she says she has tried, but I am not sure if she even knows how, having been at a small all girls school. She feels very lonely and wants to look at transferring for sophomore year. I am concerned over many things:
- her even giving her school a chance when she goes back
- giving up on the only school she was really passionate about
- trading off one set of problems for another
Regretting down the road.

Is there advice on what I can do to help her find ways to make friends? Do I become insistent that she stick it help? Any advice would be appreciated
edited January 2011
28 replies
Post edited by mamanala on
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Replies to: unhappy child

  • qdogpaqdogpa 2357 replies60 discussions- Posts: 2,417 Member
    Feel your pain.... Your D needs to get involved with different activities,this will ease her into meeting people and potential friends..Perhaps a club or study group,or even some type of volunteering...Coming home will not solve the problem..Best of luck
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  • mamommamom 3642 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,666 Senior Member
    Has she joined any clubs or is she participating in activities outside her academic work? I would sit down with her and review wht is available and ask her to try a couple new activites of interest. What about volunteering? She needs to get over this shyness now before she goes out into the real world and starts working. I say this as an extremely shy person, although my kids would never guess that because I have forced myself to do things outside my comfort level to set a good example for them. So gently "ask" her to pick a couple of activities to become involved in, anything just to get her beyond her comfort zone. Ask her to form a study group in one of her classes. Tell her to say Hi to one new person everyday. All these little things help and over time she will become more outgoing.

    Let her know that if she transfers she will be the new kid on the block at the new school and have to face trying to fit in there. I hope she is able to overcome this before she becomes too isolated. Also, tell her that now is a good time to reinvent herself because she has no history with most of her classmates.
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  • sylvan8798sylvan8798 6626 replies139 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,765 Senior Member
    op, most campuses have campus ministry and hillel organizations. Even if D is not religious, she can meet a lot of nice young people who will be welcoming and invite her to join them in volunteering, events, etc. Also, if she has any sort of physical pursuit - skiing, swimming, etc., she can find people who are involved in those things as well.
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  • MarilynMarilyn 3573 replies120 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,693 Senior Member
    Sophomore year our son joined Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity on most campuses. They didn't have a house but did have weekly meetings and all sorts of events, both social and charitable. They had pledge groups who had to participate and initiate certain activities, but everyone gets accepted. I think students who aren't sure how to make friends are best starting out in formal organizations. Not all of them work out but at least you feel like you belong and get to know a group of other students.
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  • RiceOwlHopefulRiceOwlHopeful 85 replies26 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 111 Junior Member
    I am crazy shy as well. I moved the summer before 8th grade and had to start all over. I hadn't really had that many friends where i was from and my dad was worried about me, so he had me introduce myself to four people every day. I had to come home with four names and four interesting things about each of those people.
    It was painful at first, and somewhat embarrassing, but I got past it, and the first day, the second person I asked seemed nice so I asked if I could eat lunch with her. We ate with all her friends, and some of those people are still my best friends today. I would say just have her introduce herself. For a shy person it is a little painful at first, but its also painful to be alone all the time.
    I hope she finds some good friends soon!
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  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad 8506 replies67 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    People are people - she'll have the same issues regarding meeting people/making friends regardless of where she transfers. I've seen posts on CC by students who are making essentially ludicrous (but heartfelt - I understand) statements like 'all the people at this college are ...' or 'I can't make any friends here' or variants of those statements and this is sometimes at large state universities with many thousands of students - people all around the same age, intelligence, interests, and similar background to the student who all also have in common that they selected the same college, live in the same area, etc.

    Students need to come to terms that there's not an issue with every one of the thousands of other students but rather, they're just not making enough of an effort to meet people, be outgoing enough to smile, say hello, make small conversation, etc. and not, for example, walk around with the eyes downcast, with a sad sack expression on the face, and never respond to others (I'm not saying this is what your D is doing but some do). As the above posters mentioned there are lots of ways to improve the odds by joining clubs, organizations, volunteering, getting an on-campus job (which introduces co-workers as potential friends), do activities with her dorm people (most have some organized events), etc.

    If she's pinning it all on this one HS friend it's a recipe for a problem. That friend may decide to move on - especially if your D returns and becomes clingy if it's the only friend. It also doesn't solve her issue of learning to meet different people.

    There's sure to be some homesickness mixed into this and it's not at all unusual for new freshmen off to a college far away (or even close) to feel isolated, lonely, friendless, which will all make them unhappy. This is especially true in the first semester of the first year. Fortunately this often fades by the end of the first year and especially into the second year. Your D may just be experiencing the 'new freshman at a college far away' blues.
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  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay 19078 replies454 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 19,532 Senior Member
    I really agree w/ucsd. If she was shy in HS and was shy her first semester, she's not going to automatically become the life of the party next year wherever she ends up. And that's OK. But she can't blame the school.

    OP, you were right when you said "she might not know how" to make friends since she's never really had to extend herself thus far. I'd work with her on developing those skills.

    Is she rooming with this HS friend?
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  • 'rentof2'rentof2 4274 replies53 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,327 Senior Member
    My instincts would be the same as yours, to want her to hang in there and make it work. I will add however, that two friends of mine went through this with their kids and in both cases the transfer ended up being the right thing to do. One friend had a daughter at St. Olaf, which was a school both the daughter and the mother really loved when they visited. Getting accepted was not a forgone conclusion, but when she did they were very happy. She got some very helpful financial aid and headed off with happy expectation. But mid-way through freshman year she just wasn't happy there. It wasn't the Minnesota weather, it was a matter of just not feeling like it was a good social fit for her. She transferred after freshman year to another smallish private college and this one has really clicked for her and she's very happy there. It's not as highly ranked a school, and I think it's not academically on the same level, but her problem at St. Olaf's wasn't academic to begin with. Anyway, it turns out it was a good thing to transfer.

    The other kid I know transferred after freshman year from Northwestern to Middlebury. He was excited as a freshman by certain program offerings at Northwestern, but ended up really disliking the large school, urban, and Big-10 type environment. He's just as happy as he can be at Middlebury now.

    So I don't think it's uniformly true that the troubles a student has in one school will be the same troubles they have in another. Sometimes they just want something else, and they're not imagining things.

    That said, I'd sure try to convince your daughter to sincerely try to make it work where she is first, join some organized activities, and keep an open and optimistic mind about her college. I feel fortunate that both my kids settled in well at their initial choices and are in the middle of their junior years now.
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  • Youdon'tsayYoudon'tsay 19078 replies454 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 19,532 Senior Member
    'rent, you make a good point. My general opinion was based on the broad description of the problem -- "struggling socially," "not really making friends at school." If the OP had said, "isn't Greek and thinks there's too much Greek life" or "doesn't like sports and didn't realize this was an SEC school," then, yeah, it sounds like the wrong fit and a change would be in order. But without a specific to that school pinpointed, I went with what I had. ;)
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  • limabeanslimabeans 4649 replies105 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,754 Senior Member
    Some kids are just shy and it takes a very long time to begin to feel comfortable. Oftentimes, coming back after this winter break helps to determine if your daughter is s-l-o-w-l-y beginning to feel more comfortable or if she has built too big a wall to others. My first kid was much too far away and simply not ready to be away at college. His freshman year was a disaster. My middle kid had similar issues at first. But, evenutally he found his niche and now barely doesn't want to consider doing a study-abroad because he doesn't want to miss out. So, in a nutsheel, it depends on the student and other circumstances.

    Has she tried to join clubs, soroities, or religious groups? Does she get along with her roommate? That was an issue my oldest kid experienced. Then again, since college is a time to try out new interests, she should do that. My middle son never joined a glee club or music group when he was in HS, but he's now quite involved in a choral group, and loving it. One important fact for your DD to realize is that extending friendships beyond this one best friend is okay. Just because new acquaintances aren't "close friends" yet, that's how friendships get started.
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  • MyLBMyLB 1051 replies51 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,102 Senior Member
    Agree with several posters that this does not exactly sound school-specific and her problems might follow her to wherever she transfers.

    I think often of a CC post I read several years ago about first year adjustment problems. It was from a student. He thought if you could just get your kid to stick it out long enough to return his/her *second* year, a lot of the issues would have resolved.

    Is she willing to return for spring semester? I think second semester of first year often goes better--she "knows the ropes" of the school, she has a fresh start in new classes, she probably has more friends than she realizes, in most of the country the weather is getting better rather than worse. Rather than encouraging her to apply to transfer, which would have her mentally leaving her current school, what if you told her to stick it out for the spring, and if she really doesn't want to go back next year, she could take a semester or year off.
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  • allstarcheerallstarcheer 5 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I would agree with the suggestion that she stick it out for the spring semester. My daughter felt her first school was too small and decided midway through the fall to transfer. By the time the fall semester ended, I think she had begun to regret her decision but felt committed.... she had already filed papers to withdraw from school #1, applied to and accepted scholarships at school #2, told everyone she was leaving, etc.

    Long story short, she didn't end up feeling that school #2 was a fit either so she transferred AGAIN at the beginning of sophomore year. Thankfully, that school ended up being a good fit and she is now midway through junior year there. But she ended up being the new kid three times and it was always difficult. If being shy is the issue, starting over at a different school will be painful - it is definitely harder to make friends when everyone else has settled into the new school.
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  • stradmomstradmom 4934 replies50 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,984 Senior Member
    I'm not sure why people are assuming this girl is shy. That could be the case or it could be the culture of the school she's attending. It might well be the case that she would be happier somewhere else. But I do agree that she should join some clubs or activities, and give the current institution a fair chance.

    What is her major? There are often clubs associated with certain departments.
    Does she have a hobby or an interest? Did she play a sport in high school that she might like to continue as an intramural? Would she like to try something new? Community service groups can always use an extra hand.
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  • garlandgarland 15868 replies197 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 16,065 Senior Member
    So I don't think it's uniformly true that the troubles a student has in one school will be the same troubles they have in another. Sometimes they just want something else, and they're not imagining things.

    I agree that this is often the case. my D wouldn't have said school A was "this" or "that", she just wasn't making friends and was highly unhappy. The school she transfered to was much different; but she didn't think that the difference would make much difference (if that makes sense) till she got there, when she realized how the specifics of a place really can change how things feel socially. She was deliriously happy with school B.

    I also would suggest that it's sometimes easier for a socially unsure student to adjust knowing home is closer than 3000 miles away. That space between can yawn as a really large chasm at her back, increasing the feeling of alone-ness which might be easier to deal with if she knew that the familiar wasn't so far away.
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  • shoot4moonshoot4moon 1101 replies177 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,278 Senior Member
    I read a book called Happiest Kid on Campus that had some good ideas - one I don't see mentioned that might be less threatening is getting involved in a work study program on campus. When I look back on my own college career, I was ready to transfer in my sophomore year until I did a work study job in the activities center, where I met a good friend/boyfriend. Later, I did another in the deferred giving portion of the university, which actually turned out to be the very best training I could have done for my current job. Just another idea....
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