Academic Struggles with College

Archived Q&A and Reviews


The academics are proving difficult for college freshman

Jan 2014

My 18 yr old has completed one semester of college and is hinting that she might not want to continue. She loves the social aspect, the independence, living in a dorm and being away from home. The academics are proving difficult though. She has numerous issues with learning (ADD, slow processing/ reading and dyslexia) and has never been a top notch student but is very very bright in a non traditional way. Ultimately she should be in a setting that is very focused on kids like her---super smart but learning in a atypical way. She has an entreprenurial (sp!) spirit and is very confident in her skills. I want to support her but I also really really want her to get a college degree if at all possible. She is current at a large state college and, while I do hear that she gets individual attention by some professors, I cannot imagine this is her ideal setting for learning and being challenged. To add to it, I cannot afford a small private college that might be a better fit for her and at this point I think she is about 75% decided that college is not her path. any advice welcomed... anon

Hi, Does your daughter have ''504'' accommodations? The school should have an office for young adults with learning differences. She will need support during this transitional time of her life. In the event that this school proves to not have adequate resources, there are other programs and schools that specifically work with these issues. Lori

My niece is in a similar situation. She has a learning difference and is at a small liberal arts college. She is not getting the support she needs--perhaps a little more recently and actually did very poorly one semester when she received no support. She loves the college though and her parents don't know whether to let her finish with a low GPA or have her go to a college closer to home. Is it possible to start again and wipe out previous poor performance? concerned Aunt

Now What: Not Even Junior College is Working

May 2013

Our very articulate, cute and charming 20 y/o dd has just withdrawn from all her junior college classes rather than get Ds. This is not the first time it's happened. Yes, there are reasons: multiple documented learning disabilities (she qualifies for support), no peer support (friends have gone away to college), no specific goal or certificate in mind and trouble doing the work she considers difficult and boring. She has been working part-time since high school and has a strong work ethic and gets to work on time. She has no hobbies or passions.

Things we have considered: only paying for one class per semester or making her pay, therapy for her situational depression, the military (decided against), meeting with her teachers to find out what's up (she refused), standarized interests testing like the COPP etc., cell phone sales job.

Were any of you or have you parented someone who doesn't fit the mainstream academic path? What has been your overall strategy? Do you have a planned move-out-of-parents-house date? Looking back, what was the turning point? Anything we should consider? Concerned mom

Maybe your daughter is not ready for college yet and should work full time until she is? Sounds like she really gets the responsibility of working and it's something she's good at. Once she realizes that she has to have a college degree to succeed, hopefully she'll be ready for the demands of college. It's a risk and a gamble but the current situation is making her hate college so maybe the risk is worth it. Different drummer

Don't give up hope yet! I went through this exact same thing with my son, who is now 27. He was a poor student in high school, probably LD and/or ADD, and he dropped out after failing the CHSPE. He is smart, but he always hated school and never cared about failing classes. Between ages 18 and 24 he started community college 4 times and never made it to the end of a semester. Usually he would just stop going to class, and end up with F's. Meanwhile, he had a series of low-pay low-skilled jobs, lived with friends in a big warehouse in Oakland, and hatched plans that never panned out such as being a musician or going to bartender school. I'd help out with new shoes, cell phone, medical insurance. Mainly I just worried. Constantly.

When he turned 25, something clicked - maybe brain maturity? or he was tired of years of discouraging, boring jobs? The recession hit and he couldn't find work, couldn't pay rent, had to move back home and listen to me worry and nag. He convinced me to give him one more chance. I reluctantly agreed to pay his rent on a shared subsidized apartment in Berkeley if he would maintain a B average at Berkeley City College. He did all the paperwork for his housing, and for financial aid. He started out taking only one class a semester and gradually built up to a full load. Now, two years later, he has made an A in every single class he's taken, including challenging math and science classes. He is very fired up by his classes, and works very hard. In Fall he will apply to UCB and UCSC as a transfer student. I can see him going on to grad school just because he is so excited by learning. I'm so proud of him!

If you had told me 5 or 10 years ago that things would work out like this, I would not have believed you. There were so many disappointments with this kid, starting in middle school. He's just a late bloomer, I guess. I am thankful that I was able to help him when he finally bloomed, because it has been such a joy to see that.

Good for your daughter that she has a job. Maybe it would be a good thing for her to work for a while and gain independence and responsibility and better insight into where she wants to go as a young adult. If you can just hold on for a little while and be as supportive as possible you might get your reward down the road! local mom

I just responded to the post above from ''Frustrated with Teen... ''. If you care to, read that and you may find some similarities with your daughter. My daughter is now 21 and after withdrawing from classes so that she wouldn't have a D or an incomplete on her record, I told her that I would no longer pay for her classes. When she was ready and serious about working in college, we'd revisit the issue. She actually agreed that she wasn't ready and I think she was relieved. She is also now working and through experience is realizing how important education is if she wants a fulfilling job, since she doesn't really like what she's doing and how small her paycheck is. It sounds like your daughter is very responsible in her work and that's great! Brains of kids with learning differences mature more slowly that kids without those differences and my daughter is developmentally more like an 18 year old. I'm assuming that your daughter is also immature and it just may take her more time to make the commitment to school. Regarding moving out, I had an advantage since I was moving to a smaller house and she definitely didn't want to share a room with her brother! I gave her lots of notice, however, so she had months to get used to the idea and prepare for it. I also told her how much I would pay for her rent and was clear what the limit was. Having that time helped a lot and she found a place that had 2 other girls. It wasn't ideal but she learned a lot and was much more responsible than she had been at home. You might want to start talking to your daughter about moving out and any worries that she has about it (if she'll tell you) and set a date that's several months away. You mentioned that she's depressed about what's going on and it might be a good idea to get her into therapy with someone whom she can connect with for more support. Jan


Son depressed about dropping out after 2 years of college

Dec 2012

My son has dropped out of college after 2+ years, and after failing multiple classes at UCR. After coming home, he said that he felt like a failure, and will not even discuss his future. He often sleeps during the day, plays video games, does not want to leave the house. He is very resistant to talking about how he feels, what he wants to do, etc. We think he may be depressed and we think he would benefit from some therapy. We would like a therapist who is very familiar with young men, who are not in touch with their feelings, who have lost their way in life. Please send recommendations for therapists in this area. Thanks! Concerned Mom

Sorry to tell you, you are not alone. A lot of my son's friends came back after 2 years in college. I have no idea what is going on.We read all around that there is a problem with boys, etc but I don't hear a totally different story with girls.. My son is seen Dr Frank Davis in Berkeley (510) 496-3470. I think he is great with young man and pretty helpful to the whole family. I know how you feel, hopefully our boys will be able to figure it out. good luck! mgr

I have dealt with exactly this situation. It's a very difficult issue, but you have to get your son to face it without shame or guilt.

Many people find UC extremely competitive, and failure is a real possibility. Failure also quickly cascades at UC. Most UC students are top high school students (many 4.0+ GPA, top scores), so going from A's to C's, D's or even F's is traumatic and they don't know what to do. The shame of failure can become so consuming that a student stops going to class, refuses to talk to counselors, friends or professors and spirals deeper into depression. It's tragic.

You don't say how long your son has been home, but he needs to work through these issues, so a therapist is a good idea.

However, you are neglecting the biggest elephant in the room: did he simply ''drop out'' in good standing? Was he on probation? Was he dismissed from the university? Do you even know the true status? As long as this is unresolved, he will feel agonized.

Many students assume the worse, but there are many paths back into the university when a student is ready - even if he has been dismissed. One young man I counseled submitted an appeal letter explaining his medical issues and dismissal was rescinded. He then received a formal leave of absence to pursue work opportunities. In his case, UC advising made it very clear they would love to have him back when he was ready and outlined the procedures through which this could be accomplished. They said they wished more students would come and talk with them instead of running away.

This may be the crux of the agony for your student as well. Find a good college adviser with experience with UC to aid you and your son to deal with his academic issues immediately. Frankly, there is *no* shame in going to UC advising. Even the best of us fail utterly at times in our life - and a few of them are Nobelists.

Your son is *not* stupid. UC doesn't make mistakes like that. But no one is perfect, and at times we all need help. With the careful guidance of a college adviser advocate, UC advising can help your son. Good Luck

Hey There, We too have a bright son who dropped out of college in Jan 2012 after failing classes, came out feeling like a total failure and slipped into a deep depression. While we still are not on the other side of this hard journey, we have made progress. He started seeing a therapist 2 x week, had an neuropsy eval and ended up with a dx of ADHD, depression and anxiety. He has continued with therapy, meds and started taking classes at Laney. We also do weekly family therapy. I suggest Samuel Tabachnik, PHD who does a lot of work with young men. There is also a parents group for this specific issue run by a woman named April Wise. I think a new group will start in January. I have felt very alone and at a loss how to help him and ourselves at times. My advice to you is therapy, patience with yourself as you struggle with the stress this brings and with him as well. Good luck. anon