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Mental health issues, freshman, any tips on how best to proceed?

bookgeekbookgeek 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
It's been a tough Thanksgiving break at our house. My daughter is a college freshman and we've just learned how badly she's been struggling, both with her academics and her mental health. Most important to us is her mental health, and we all feel good about our plan to deal with that. She will be moving back home in a couple of weeks to resume working with her local therapist as well as starting CC and work. This feels devastating to all of us as she's an Honors College student with a presidential scholarship, and overcame serious mental issues in HS to get to where she is. The university has not been a good fit in any way, but leaving will still be bittersweet.

On Monday we'll be driving her back to her university so she can finish the fall semester as best she can. We are planning to ask the registrar for an "administrative withdrawal" in 2 of her classes due to illness/circumstances. My daughter believes having to not worry about these 2 classes will allow her to finish as strongly as possible in her remaining 3 classes. How strongly she finishes remains to be seen. Her anxiety is very high right now, and she's having trouble concentrating on work. However, she currently wants to attempt to finish 3 classes instead of doing a complete withdrawal. We are willing to support her in this only because she's said she's not feeling suicidal.

She will eventually want to resume study at a different 4 year college, and merit aid will be necessary. Preserving her academic record is not as important as her mental health, but it IS important. Is there anything we're not considering, based on what I've described?

As far as meeting with the registrar and dean, any tips from people who have been in a similar circumstance? I've got loads of documentation re: her history of mental health issues. I anticipate the question of why she didn't take advantage of the university's resources to help with a variety of issues, and I feel like we can answer that easily.

Thank you in advance for any tips.



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Replies to: Mental health issues, freshman, any tips on how best to proceed?

  • bookgeekbookgeek 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @katliamom Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts in a kind and helpful way. Returning for next semester is not an option for my daughter because her scholarship is not going to be renewed. Honestly, I think we're all a bit relieved that returning is not on the table simply because she is not happy there and she wants/needs to return to her long-term therapy relationship.

    I appreciate your mention of a retroactive withdrawal. In your experience, that would mean that in future college applications it would be as if this semester never happened (so not even mentioned)? And she'd be applying with her HS & future CC credentials?

    A clean slate sounds really good to me, but in my daughter's mind, the semester DID happen and she'd like something to show for it. I'm inclined to respect her wishes since this seems important to her (and she promises that she is mentally stable enough to finish if allowed to withdraw from just a couple of classes).

    I so hope you're correct in colleges being willing to work with families in these situations. Thanks again for taking the time to reply!
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  • svlab112svlab112 623 replies7 threads Member
    If future merit is needed., much, I believe it is harder to get merit aid as a transfer student.

    As such, being able to apply as a freshman could mean more options and aid in the future.

    Perhaps more experienced posters can comment on this aspect.
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  • katliamomkatliamom 12859 replies169 threads Senior Member
    @bookgeek - I appreciate (and applaud) you wanting to respect your daughter's wishes r.e. retroactive withdrawal. Part of guiding a child through a crisis such as this one is really listening to them and allowing them to make decisions.

    In re-reading my post, I didn't make it clear that the reason my son's school agreed to a retroactive withdrawal was because his condition wasn't diagnosed at the time he started there. But your situation is a bit different, since your daughter did have a diagnosis... but for whatever reason decided not to pursue available help/accommodations for her illness. Depending what that reason was, you could perhaps leverage it in the event you decided to pursue the retroactive medical withdrawal avenue.

    But if she doesn't want that kind of withdrawal, I totally get it. After all, she's worked hard and it's understandable she'd want to salvage at least some academic credit.

    Yes, after a retroactive withdrawal, your daughter would apply as a freshman, with her HS grades. That's the way it works in all public schools in my state and in the state where my son went, you might want to double check with your daughter's school.

    The benefit, besides the GPA issue, is that, applying as a freshman, she's much more likely to get merit aid. Most significant merit aid is limited to first-year students.
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  • MAandMEmomMAandMEmom 1676 replies10 threads Senior Member
    The option for freshman merit awards will not be available once OP’s daughter attends her local community college. But, there are many, many students who are very successful and are awarded very generous transfer scholarships. The college where I work has had great success with our transfer students, including several Jack Kent Cooke Scholars. In the right environment, your DD can thrive.
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  • bookgeekbookgeek 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for weighing in, everyone. It's so helpful to consider different perspectives and experiences. And I really appreciate the encouragement.

    I'm understanding the benefits of a clean slate / starting over as a freshman. Being able to attend the local CC in January seems very important to my DD for many reasons, so we are definitely going to support that.

    I guess part of the deal with mental illness is striking that balance between what is best right now vs. what may or may not be best for the future. Her best friend goes to the same CC, my DD will attend, and this friend is being SO helpful at helping my DD see that this crisis is in no way the end. My DD wants to be doing what her peers are doing (going to college), and she needs to expand her circle of friends locally.

    My DD intends to eventually attend art school for graphic design, and is looking forward to the CC art classes to expand her portfolio for future college applications. I'm hoping that success at CC will help compensate for whatever academic record she may end up with from this freshman fall semester.

    Thanks again, @MAandMEmom, @katliamom, @svlab112, and @compmom.



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  • katliamomkatliamom 12859 replies169 threads Senior Member
    Attending school with his friends was also very important to my son once he returned home. He was much more successful academically when he was in classes with his buddies, who helped ease his anxiety.
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  • voyagermomvoyagermom 121 replies8 threads Junior Member
    I'm so glad to see both you and your DD are realizing that having her go back for the spring term would not be good. I hope that while returning home and attending CC that she will also be seeing a therapist. Without turning this into a long post about me and my DS18 I will just share that after some struggles both mentally and academically he moved back home after his freshman year and has been commuting this term. With living at home and seeing a therapist he is doing much better. The support at home makes a big difference for sure. I hope your DD does okay with her last few weeks at school, and reaches out to you if she does start to struggle.
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  • bookgeekbookgeek 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @voyagermom, yes, she will definitely be returning to the therapist she's been working with for years! I'm so glad to hear your son is doing well now; love these positive stories!
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  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited November 30
    If she is failing any classes, I believe she can still try to withdraw from specific classes and get the grade removed, based on illness. At least look into it. Or, she might be able to get extensions or incompletes. I would still try to protect the transcript even if it isn't a priority.

    That said, doing well at CC can show progress and stability and will perhaps counter any less than stellar grades is her mental health improves.

    Many kids resist seeking accommodations. It is a shame.
    edited November 30
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9045 replies79 threads Senior Member
    "Many kids resist seeking accommodations. It is a shame." - So true. Plenty of college parents (including me, long ago) can related to that frustration.
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  • IcegypsyIcegypsy 1 replies0 threads New Member
    My son was a Neuman and Presidential Scholar. This was the kind of kid who didn't have to study to get the high grades. The college he chose was all wrong, and so was his major. Unfortunately, WE INTERFERED WITH HIS CHOICE FOR A MAJOR. BIG MISTAKE.
    Going away to college as a freshman is not easy, and this kid was also in culture shock.
    Due to social anxiety, he did not use services of counselor, and this led to withdraw.
    Admitting to having difficulties is the biggest challenge.
    He withdrew and went right into Community. He works full time and studies full time.
    I stress the importance of critical thinking and analyzing skills over major.
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  • bookgeekbookgeek 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @Icegypsy, so true re: the acknowledging of difficulties. It's also very difficult to ask for help once you're in the midst of a mental health crisis. Going forward, we will be much more proactive as a family about having supports in place from the beginning, even if things are going well. We thought we had an understanding with our daughter that she would establish a relationship with a new therapist at her university, but that never happened. Ditto with having accommodations in place. Hindsight is hard-earned.....
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9524 replies511 threads Senior Member
    You said merit money is required. Very few colleges give that money to transfer students. If she attends CC, she will be a transfer student, even if she gets a medical withdrawal from her current college. You feel she should attend CC, so it seems that she should salvage the current classes that she can, start CC and transfer in a year or so.

    You can look at colleges that offer transfer students merit money, but they are probably all private, will be expensive, and might not be near you.

    Applying for highly competitive outside scholarships might also be possible, but getting a large one is like winning the lottery. I think it seems sensible for her to attend Cc and live at home until she is stable enough and mature enough to try moving away to college again. That doesn’t need to happen, btw. Many people just commute to college, myself included.
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  • compmomcompmom 10931 replies78 threads Senior Member
    @rubookgeek, once they are 18 it is out of your hands, at least legally. I am sure you are aware of that on many fronts. Your daughter may make some mistakes in judgment and may not seek resources now but over time I think there is a good chance things will work out. Wshing you all good luck.
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  • bjscheelbjscheel 605 replies5 threads Member
    I can't help with the mental health/withdrawal, but I will say that there are community colleges that offer an A.A.S. in Graphic Design. My daughter did this. We compared programs and the CC 5 semester program had as many graphic design credits as the Bachelor degrees. It is not meant to be a transfer program but more like a complete, trades program. For her, it fit- she had little interest in taking a bunch of gen eds and spending 4 years at it- she was ready to get it done and go to work.

    I don't know if this interests you at all, but thought I would mention it. I know there is also a question of whether employers will pass over an AAS, but a 4 year would have cost so much more (we paid nothing for tuition at cc after tax credit and scholarships), we decided to take that chance.

    Best wishes, this has to be tough.
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  • jym626jym626 56057 replies2918 threads Senior Member
    I agree with @LIndagaf. The funds for transfer students are limited, and if her transcript shows several withdrawals from first semester freshman year, even if it leaves her with a better GPA, it still has a tarnished component that will need to be explained,

    Was there a reason she took 5 classes as a first semester freshman with known MH issues? 5 classes is a heavy load for any freshman. When she transfers to a CC, please consider having her take the minimum number to be considered a full time student (if the plan is for her to be a full time student.)

    Best of luck to your daughter.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5972 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Good for you for being so responsive!

    If you don't have a copy of "The Stressed years of their lives", please get it ASAP. It is filled with great advice on managing mental health issues with your college student. Some advice is very practical and logistics oriented. There are several resources listed as well. It was written by mental health professionals who found themselves woefully unprepared when they were dealing with issues as parents. It sounds like you and the author share some experience!

    Best of luck to you and your D. This is hard.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4614 replies18 threads Senior Member
    A different perspective could be to withdraw her now. Not start CC but take graphic design or just art classes in your area. Many places to get classes for both depending on your locale. This way she can build her portfolio and then reapply in the fall for better chance of merit. Many online classes also for foundation of what she would need. It might even help her place out. She can take basic Adobe classes for design and take some drawing /art classes to improve her skills and make a better portfolio. She can stay engaged in her field of choice. Depending on what she takes could make her a stronger candidate when she reapplies. Hope this makes sense to you. She would be taking similar classes but she wouldn't be taking these for credit. Just to improve her skills.
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