My child doesn’t want to go back to uni

Jan 2, 2014 by

In the latest in our Parents in a Panic series, a parent wonders how to persuade their child to return to university

A parent asks:

Dear Abby,

My student daughter travelled home for Christmas after her first term at university this year. We had a lovely festive holiday, with all the family around on Christmas day. She also seemed to enjoy seeing her friends from school again. However, I’m worried because now she says she doesn’t want to go back to university. Is this normal? How can I help her to settle back in?

Abby says:

After the home-cooked food and comforts of the Christmas holidays, it’s not unusual for students to be reluctant to return to university.

The January blues can be magnified for those studying, many of whom may have exams in the second term or will be moving away from home once again.

It’s normal for students to suffer from homesickness or from bouts of sadness while at university. A recent study showed that the number of students seeking counselling has risen by 16% in three years.

The second term of the first year can be difficult. Students who haven’t yet settled in may notice that others have and feel anxious about that. Some may have concerns about sitting their first exams, others may be worried about where to live in the second year.

Counsellors advise parents to try to get to the root of the problem if their child seems unhappy. “Try to find out what’s at the root of the reluctance to return,” says Elizabeth Murphy, head of wellbeing services at Exeter University.

“It could be that a student is struggling with their studies, or that they haven’t gelled with their social group or with the people they’re living with, which is a common problem.

“Alternatively it could be homesickness. Sometimes it can take longer than freshers’ week to replace what you had at home. If they’ve kept it together until Christmas and then gone home and had a fabulous time, it can be hard to go back to university again.”

If this is the case, then encourage your child not to isolate themselves. “If a student is feeling like they wish they were at home instead of uni, then as a parent I would say to them to try and join in, see friends and socialise,” says Sara Doherty, director of student services at St George’s, University of London.

“Advise them to keep busy, to get on with their revision and to try and get back into the swing of it. Student unions often make sure that there are lots of activities on around this time to kick the term off, which can help.”

If you are worried, help your son or daughter find out where to go for counselling.

“Students can go and see their university counselling service if they’re unhappy,” says Patti Wallace, lead advisor for university and college counselling at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. “They may be able to help and if not, they will know what other help is available.

“A student doesn’t need to have a really serious issue to go to a student counsellor. And talking any problems through could help them to realise they’re not alone in feeling down.

“Often it’s hard for a student, especially someone in their first year, to know who to go to about what – their university counsellor can help them or refer them to the right person.”

Sometimes students do realise that university isn’t right for them and they need to decide what to do next. If your child has decided that their university or course is not right for them at this time, then you can help them to think it through.

“Parents shouldn’t panic, and should encourage their child not to rush into a decision, but to talk it through with people who can help,” says Murphy.

“It’s important that parents help students to make an informed decision – if they do decide to leave then they should do it in an informed or planned way.”

via A parent says: my child doesn’t want to go back to uni after the holidays | Education |

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