Son unhappy wants to transfer

<p>Hello,</p>

<p>My son told me today that he thinks he made a mistake in choicing Grand Valley State University. He says everyone leave for the weekend and his friends at other schools are having the time of their lives. He is not. He is having odd roommate issues -- The RA is getting involved now. Having to deal with this may be part of is problem. Since he has no car and the campus is rather rural he feels trapped and can't visit his friends at other schools either. </p>

<p>It is the beginning of November. My husband says just let him be and he will most likely change his mind. Do kids have second thoughts in the fall? I can't really stop him from looking at other schools, but I hope he is giving this school an honest try. On some level, I think letting him have his car up at school would help. So he could visit friends at other schools and maybe realize that it is not as great as everyone says. </p>

<p>So I worry.........</p>

<p>So I worry.</p>

<p>It can be difficult to distinguish what part of your son's unhappiness is due to the specific school where he is and what part is general transition issues most kids face their first year of college. FWIW, moms often hear the worst--when they're down, when they're homesick, . . . , and often to someone else they're saying they're really doing okay.</p>

<p>At this point I'd (1) encourage him to finish out the year while (2) telling him it's fine to explore transfer options and (3) remind him it will be easier to get into another school if he has good grades.</p>

<p>And if he settles down the rest of this semester, be forewarned that the return for second semester of freshman year can be tough--they've usually just had a very relaxing 3-4 weeks with family and friends in familiar surroundings and are often going back to not-great weather.</p>

<p>I've also heard that if you can get them to go back for their <em>second</em> year, the transfer talk often goes away. If his current roommate situation becomes unbearable, he should be able to switch. That might make him happier overall.</p>

<p>(And I think letting him have a car so he can escape might not be the best idea. Better to start to think of school as home.)</p>

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his friends at other schools are having the time of their lives. He is not.

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<p>This refrain is quite common. It comes from comparing other people's outsides to your own insides. And, very often, it's not true. Many freshmen probably feel the same way. </p>

<p>While it's ok to have your S look into the possibility of transferring, the reality is that it's a bit late in the semester to get in apps, apply for housing, etc, for January. Financial aid may or may not be possible at this point. How quickly could the new school get a package together? Circumstances may dictate that he wait until next fall, which would give his first choice school more of a chance. If he gets into second semester and still wants to transfer, let him pursue it in earnest.</p>

<p>A lot of kids transfer. What we don't realize when we look at those freshman to sophomore retention rates is that they include transfers. Kids transfer for many reasons - too far from home, made a mistake, changing a major to something not offered at school #1. It's not necessarily a bad thing.</p>

<p>Encourage him to send out a few transfer applications soon. This way, if things don't get better for him at his current school, he'll have options in hand for next fall.</p>

<p>Finding yourself at a "suitcase school" when you didn't plan on that could be a legitimate reason for transferring.</p>

<p>However, there may be a less drastic solution. Does he have friends who are living with their families or going to nearby colleges? Could his budget stretch (perhaps with the addition of a part-time job) so that he could afford a car? If he could afford a car and could use it to travel to meet friends on the weekends, then maybe being at a suitcase school would seem OK.</p>

<p>I transferred colleges at the end of my freshman year, and I knew by October that I didn't want to spend 4 years at my first college. It was a great school, and I was having a fun social life and great academic success, but I was living at home and commuting and not liking that aspect of it at all. There was little I could do (other than transfer) to change the living at home thing. Similarly, there's little your son can do to change a suitcase school. Having a car might help, but I don't think driving to other colleges on weekends is a good solution. If he wants to transfer, I'd tell him to go ahead and look at other schools and put a few applications in.</p>

<p>think there might be too much emphasis on the problem being "suitcase school"..generally most kids will end up with a group of friends, some will be local some wont...some will stay on campus some wont... he may need to make a bit of an effort to find kids that do stay on campus..but 1-2 would probably do the trick..depending on the school even if 1/2 left there is still alot of kids there... and even if some friends left for the weekend...we survive not seeing our friends for a few day at a time, or our work colleagues are still friends even if we dont see them over the weekend. Admittedly if everyone he hangs out with leaves it may be a problem.. but that is up to him to make a point of meeting kids that do stay on campus. you dont need the whole campus to stay there to find a friend to hang out with on weekends</p>

<p>Two years ago, I would have said that he should stick it out for the year, get good grades to facilitate a transfer and wait and see.</p>

<p>Now, with a college sophomore of my own, and having seen many friends whose kids have struggled for a variety of reasons, I've come to think life is just too damn short to be miserable. Transferring is in no way a failure or even that big a deal. I have a number of friends whose kids went to the same suitcase school I did, and they had no idea that that was the case on that campus. It's a state school with 30,000+ kids and housing for only 6,000 so I guess they shouldn't have been surprised, but they were. One kid already has moved back home after a month. I'm sure that feels like a disappointment for the family, but, hey, better to know now, IMO.</p>

<p>Only you know your ds and the extent of his unhappiness and whether it's a pattern. This summer, my ds1 talked about transferring from a LAC that he clearly loves. Thankfully, I was driving and concentrated on that rather than asking, "WTH are you talking about?!?!" By the end of the road trip, he already was back in the "Where will I do study abroad?" mode. For him, it was a bit of a crisis in confidence about getting a liberal-arts education and not being more practical/focused. He talked it out, and the transfer idea vanished. Maybe your ds will do the same. But if not, it's not a crisis. Good luck!</p>

<p>I'd encourage him to do both.. make a concerted effort to find happiness where he is right now as well as look into applications for transfer. my own son probably would have been happier had he tried to transfer after Freshman year, but after sophomore year ended, it really was too late. He's not unhappy, but I honestly think he might have found a better fit.</p>

<p>Another girl was all set to transfer but in the process of knowing she had this other option, ended up finding happiness where she was! Point is.. in being prepared to hit the submit button, it will be less a matter of "should have" and more of a "what if".... </p>

<p>Luck is preparedness meeting opportunity.</p>

<p>I would normally say give it time but I know this is a suitcase school. Kids either love it or hate it. My son's best friend spent a very unhappy freshman year and then transferred. Another girl was involved in a varsity sport and enjoyed it very much. But she had a built in circle of teamates who HAD to stay on campus to practice.</p>

<p>I agree that life is too short--I'd encourage him to get involved on campus, join clubs, etc...try to find people who stick around on weekends. Give it a go. But I'd also have him check his options, research a targeted number of potential transfer schools, make sure his classes will transfer, etc. Then make a well thought out decision.</p>

<p>If he isn't enjoying the environment at his "suitcase" school, then give him the OK to start the transfer application process now for the 2012-2012 academic year. If he puts in the effort to complete and submit the transfer applications as well as all of the supporting material, it means that he's serious about wanting to change schools. It's always a good idea to have options in place just in case things don't improve at the current school.</p>

<p>If he is really unhappy, he should transfer. It may be too late for January but you never know. He should get some apps in for Jan or next September and once he is accepted then he will have a decision to make.</p>

<p>If he has a car why not let him have it and see if that helps?</p>

<p>Tell him to look into other schools and what it would take to apply for transfer and get accepted - BUT to keep working at finding friends and things to do on the weekends at his current school. </p>

<p>The two kids of friends who recently wanted to transfer after only a few months at school both changed their minds and wanted to stay once it came time to actually leave. By then some the "Bozos" the kids were trying to get away from had turned into good friends.</p>

<p>"On some level, I think letting him have his car up at school would help. So he could visit friends at other schools and maybe realize that it is not as great as everyone says. "</p>

<p>I think this would be a very good idea, and I would let him have the car asap. He can also look into transferring, but may choose not to if he ends up being happier because he has his car there. If the car does not make enough of a difference, then he can transfer.</p>

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Encourage him to send out a few transfer applications soon. This way, if things don't get better for him at his current school, he'll have options in hand for next fall.

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<p>This is what a friend had her unhappy freshman son do. By the end of the first year, he had found friends, joined a frat and put all thoughts of transferring out of his mind. Good luck!</p>

<p>He should definatly finish the semester. And Spring too if he thinks he can and still be happy enough. He could start sending out transfer applications (remind him that those grades need to be good). </p>

<p>Life, however, is way too short to be unhappy. I believe in telling them the consequences and then letting them make their own decision. </p>

<p>A car to drive to other campuses might just produce a kid that parties a lot off campus (and doesn't study), but others will disagree, I'm sure. </p>

<p>Good luck. It's hard to see our children unhappy.</p>

<p>It is pretty common to have such feelings when one first goes to college. It might get better or it might not. Have him go ahead and submit some transfer apps, but be prepared to decline if he makes friends at his current schools and starts to have a good experience.
It good happen.</p>

<p>My son knew, from the first day, that he wanted to transfer. He concentrated on getting good grades and getting to know his professors. He had a car and made the best of a long year but transferred for the start of his sophomore year. It was on of the best decisions he ever made. Working on the transfer options made his freshman year bearable. We knew that his first school was a bad idea from the start. He was in a "suitcase" school, as well.</p>

<p>I think that one semester is adequate time to determine whether a college is a "good fit", and that remaining at a "bad fit" college isn't a character-building exercise in perseverance. Many students transfer, and many students drop out because of "bad fit". Is he only noting bad social experiences, or is academic fit also an issue? Ask him whether his roommate situation is most significant problem, and ask him to list all his concerns about current school. Discuss them with him without injection your own opnion. Encourage your son to visit several alternate schools which would fill requirements, and if enthused, apply for transfer. In life, a one-year or one-semester "bump" due to school transfer isn't significant. Colleges that have a large commuter or "suitcase" population don't develop a strong sense of campus unity, which does impact overall student satisfaction with their college experience. That sense of "belonging", and the friendships generated, are an important lasting component of college.</p>