College is supposed to be a time when young people have an opportunity to spread their wings away from home while unencumbered by adult responsibilities. They can have fun, make new friends, and do all the things they weren’t allowed to do at home, like drink and have casual sex.
For the majority of students, college is fun and an experience they will look back on fondly. But for some, it can be a nightmare. Here are some warning signs that your child is struggling at college.
They are Reluctant to Talk About College
Plenty of kids don’t want to tell their parents about everything they get up to at college. No parent needs to hear all about their drinking exploits or party lifestyle. However, if you have always enjoyed a close relationship with your child and they suddenly seem distant and less talkative, there might be an underlying reason.
Many kids struggle with mental health issues when they first leave home. It’s a huge adjustment to go from a loving home where mom cooked dinner every night to living in a dorm with a bunch of strangers. Be alert to the signs of depression. If you think your child is depressed, encourage them to speak to a doctor on campus.
Some campuses also have a culture of hazing, where younger students are subjected to bullying, beatings, and sexual assault. If you suspect your child is a victim of hazing, speak to them and consult a lawyer. Hazing is a crime and a hazing lawsuit will help pay for trauma therapy and medical bills.
They Don’t Seem to be Making Friends
It’s easy to assume all kids will make a bunch of friends the minute they go to college, but it doesn’t always happen. While colleges do organize lots of mixers to encourage students to mingle with their peers, it’s still difficult for shy and introverted kids to find new friends.
If your child is shy, keep an eye on them to see if they are making friends. Try to encourage them to join clubs that appeal to their interests, so they get to meet like-minded people. This is the best way to make friends in the early days.
Their Grades are Slipping
An unhappy child won’t feel like studying, so it’s likely their grades will start slipping as the semester progresses. Check in with your child and ask how they are getting on with the workload. If they are reluctant to report back about exam results, it could be because they are struggling with college and the workload.
They’re Not Spending Time on Hobbies
Does your child have some hobbies they are passionate about? If they don’t seem to be spending much time on their interests, it could be that they are too busy socializing. It could also mean they are depressed and not settling into college life.
College is something a lot of kids aspire to, but it doesn’t suit everyone. If your child is deeply unhappy with college life, give them the space to decide what to do next. It might be that college is not the best place for them. And if that is true, it’s OK. There are other routes through life.