Help - options for unhappy freshman

My son was diagnosed with OCD in his freshman year. It seems that the stress of an Ivy college and the loss of his friends (he finds it difficult to make friends) was too much pressure on him.
He is looking to transfer colleges to a place where he has friends ( that would be Chicago, UCI or BU). He has very close friends in these schools and he was previously accepted at both UCI and BU.
My question, is how would he go bout applying as a transfer student considering that he is still in history first semester. Also, would BU or UCI be willing to accept him directly (i.e. since they accepted him few months ago and he declined).
Would it be better for him to finish the semester and apply, or drop the whole semester and request re-consideration into these schools.
Would appreciate any informed views.

UCI only accepts Junior level transfers with 60 semester/90 quarter units. Since he has already enrolled in another University, he will be considered a Transfer and cannot apply as a Freshman.

Many students have difficulty the first semester or two in college so I personally would make him complete the first year at the college he is now and then re-evaluate his options.

For UCI, he could withdraw at his current university and attend a Community College for the next 1 1/2 to 2 years and then transfer. Not sure if you are in-state, but for UCI priority is given to in-state CA CC transfers and depending upon major he could TAG (Transfer Guarantee admission) if he meets the required courses and required GPA.

Edited: Wanted to add that UCI does not accept Winter/Spring Quarter admits as Freshman or Transfers.


I’m so sorry to hear your son is struggling. I don’t know if transferring to be with friends is the answer though. One of my daughter’s friends, who doesn’t have OCD but an anxiety disorder, chose the university he attends based on where his best friend was going to attend. Long story short, they are still friends but don’t see much of each other due to a variety of circumstances. By the time your son ends up joining his friends at whatever college, there will be social structures already in place and navigating them might not be easy. I suggest finding a school for him that suits his personality and academic needs if he decides to try transferring. Freshman year can be very tough. I hope he is being kind to himself and keeping his expectations reasonable.


This past year, a number of students have had a very hard time, socially, at their schools so, he is not alone. For now, he needs to go to the counseling center to talk to someone because he needs support to get through the year. He needs to understand that this is very common now.

As for transfer, each school has different requirements for transfer. The UCs accept Junior transfers, as noted above. Private schools have different requirements that you need to check. Good luck!

1 Like

My son transferred mid-freshman year from one school to another school where he had previously been accepted, but in his case they were both public universities with relatively high admit rates. He reached out to the Admissions Office first to see what steps he had to take and to confirm his credits would all transfer. I recommend you call each school he is considering and see what they say.


Thank you. I think this is good advice in terms of finding out what options are available before he can decide what is the best choice for him. We all want him to continue where he is, at least try. But, we also want to make sure that he is getting the support he needs, which is not always the case at very competitive schools.

1 Like

Is he registered with the Office of Disabilities? Does he have a therapist or psychiatrist who can communicate with professors and deans?

Once admitted to an Ivy, they tend to be very supportive and help with challenges. I would seek accommodations that can help him with the stress if he has not done so.

There may also be groups for new students experiencing loneliness. COVID has sent a lot of students into a state of depression and anxiety so there may be resources for that too.

I don’t know which ivy and whether there is a house system but housing systems may afford ways to meet people and have staff that help too.

For accommodations, you can write a letter for a professional to sign, after researching accommodations for OCD and anxiety. Just list them in the letter. We found professionals appreciated just signing and not doing the actual letter writing and research!

The Office of Disabilities gives the student a letter for each professor and then the student negotiates with the professor. But was also found that a doctor or other professional can communicate with a dean and the dean will tell the professor to accommodate.

Things like extensions on papers/projects, extra time on exams and tests, and even reduced course load can really reduce stress.


Thank you. He was recently diagnosed during this first semester. SDS did send a letter to all of his teachers. Some reached out and where very supportive, but not all.
A professor decided to ignore the letter and when he reached out, he simply told him to submit the assignments on time without further explanation. He tried to see the professor, but he refuses to see any student (he has no office hours, not even zoom) due to Covid. Even in class, he is not allowed to approach the professor.

The situation has been stressful for him. In his state, he does not have the energy to escalate and so forth, nor does he want to get on the bad side of a professor.
I am equally frustrated, about teachers not being present for students. You would think this is what they get paid for. I have also had to leave my job and travel from overseas to see him through the situation as it was very difficult to get timely medical support.
My conclusion, is that he needs a small school where teachers are willing to get to know the students and not see them as a nuisance leaving everything to TAs that may or may not care.
Anyway, he is trying his best to finish the semester rather than withdraw. After that We will go home for him to rest and reassess.

This professor is behaving illegally. Your son should tell the Office of Disabilities or a dean or perhaps it would be easier to get the professional who diagnosed him to get involved. This is horrendously inappropriate, to deny him support.

If he is not doing well and is unhappy he would be eligible for a medical withdrawal with this diagnosis and that would wipe the slate clean in terms of grades. I don’t know if that is relevant. He could also withdraw from that one class and NOT get a W. He should NOT get a W for any classes he withdraws from for medical reasons.

If he was just diagnosed, going home for treatment, meds and learning tools for handling his OCD, would be helpful for the long term. Often anxiety makes OCD worse of course.

A higher up needs to tell this professor to act legally and appropriately. Are you sure the professor got the letter?

Please don’t let this slide. It is appropriate for you to get involved with deans or other higher ups in a case like this.

1 Like

The professor may ignore the letter but there are at least three professionals who will not- the Department chair, the Dean of Students, and the Provost. You do not need to conclude that a transfer is the right answer- professors who ignore disability services are everywhere, and there are not guarantees that it will be better at the next U.

Forward the letter with a brief timeline- when your son was diagnosed, when the letter was sent to each professor, what this professor’s response has been and why your son has been unable to get 1:1 time to explain/clarify, etc.

One of these three will likely respond within 24 hours. The administration takes this stuff seriously even if each individual faculty member does not.

Hugs to you.


OCD has been triggered or aggravated by many due to the COVID situation.

The psychiatrist can write a letter w/letter head and date, as an attachment, to the student. The student can then send this letter to the professor directly. The letter should state that the student is having increased difficulty and requires additional accommodations, opportunity to make up work, and extensions on assignments.

This letter could also be sent to the Office of Disabilities, dean, chair or provost as mentioned above but a family member who teaches at university tells me that they receive letters like this directly. In fact, letters are sometimes sent in situations where accommodations beyond those offered by the Office of Disabilities are needed, or when a student not registered with the Office of Disabilities has a problem (concussion, acute illness etc.) requiring temporary accommodations.

It is true that accommodations are at the discretion of the professor, but often a dean will tell the professor to accommodate.