DS afraid to leave home for college - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 09-19-2009, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello, it has been a long time since I have posted here, but I always feel I can turn to Mothering when there's a thorny problem with my kids.

My son is 17 and will be applying to colleges this fall. He has told me that he is absolutely terrified of leaving home to go to college. We live in a city that has a well-respected university and he wants to go to school there, simply because it would mean he could continue to live at home. I have no objection to him going to the university near us, but it's not an easy school to get into, so if he is not accepted, he'll be devastated.

I did a quick google search and learned that it is very common for kids to feel traumatized when it is time to move away from home. My son tells me that he feels like no one will accept him in a dorm. He's also worried that he will never feel ready to move away.

I have told him that we would never kick him out of the house, and that he can stay home until he is ready to move out, but I don't want him missing college over this. We have discussed the possibility of taking a year off to live at home and work and then go to college.

Anyway, he is really distressed about this and I'm wondering if other parents have had kids with an extreme fear of leaving home.
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#2 of 17 Old 09-19-2009, 10:58 PM
 
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Hey, how are you?

Would he go to college near other family, and maybe live with them? Would that ease it for him, if he doesn't get in to the hometown uni?

Otherwise, as you know, mine are younger than yours, so I have no other advice.
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#3 of 17 Old 09-19-2009, 11:07 PM
 
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Has he been to visit any colleges? Of varying types? Spent the night even?

Speaking from my own experience, if I had had to go to the big, State school with its reputation for parties, I would have never left home! I found a school that suited me to a tee and it was so easy to go.

Maybe he just hasn't come across the right school for him.

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#4 of 17 Old 09-20-2009, 12:10 AM
 
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Are there no other options near you besides the selective university? Community colleges, etc?

I lived at home for 1.5 years. Then I felt ready to move on and transferred to another school a few hours away.

There's a community college in our town and it's quite common for students to go there for 2 years before moving on. Now, I'm thinking this is probably more due to financial constraints rather than a not wanting to move out issue but the point is that you can go to more than one school. I did! (And let's not even begin to discuss how many majors I had...)
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#5 of 17 Old 09-20-2009, 08:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies.

Hey, Irishmommy, I'm doing fine. I finished nursing school and I start my new job as a nurse on an ortho/trauma unit tomorrow. We went to Rome this summer with the kids and rented a little house in central Rome and just tried to live like an Italian family and that was fabulous.

Anyway, we have talked about a college in the city where I grew up, where we lived until DS was five. Right now, that is his safety school, but it doesn't offer the major that he wants. I do need to take him on some college visits. For what he wants to study, the College of William and Mary has a great program, and that's only three hours away. You're right Woodchick, that if he actually visited some colleges he might feel better about going to them.

The community college idea is a good one, except that he is already going to community college. I removed him from public school in tenth grade and homeschooled for half a year and enrolled him in the community college, full time, when he was in eleventh grade. It's great because it's like he skipped the last two years of high school and he has done well there and there are some other high school kids there who are doing the same thing.
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#6 of 17 Old 09-20-2009, 10:31 AM
 
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Maybe he could even work and take on-line courses until he is ready?
I would try to provide him with experiences of visiting other schools as well, though.

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#7 of 17 Old 09-20-2009, 11:42 AM
 
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I don't think it's unusual for students to want to live at home while attending university, for a variety of reasons. They want the familiar support systems in place, they don't want the distraction of residence life or maintaining their own apartment (grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.) while they are studying, it's less expensive to live at home. All very wise reasons.

From your post, it sounds like he has other reasons ("terrified of leaving home", "feels like no one will accept him in a dorm"). If he's terrified of being on his own and not being accepted in social groups, I would explore that a little more. Assuming that he is capable of the tasks of daily living - he can cook, do laundry, etc., it sounds like he is afraid of loneliness. That's something that I would want to address further with him.

Are there out-of-town schools where he has some social network already existing, no matter how thin right now? Relatives in that town, older friends who are already attending those schools, or perhaps a branch or chapter of an organization that he's active in your home town.

I would encourage him to apply to other universities, and then make a decision when he finds out where he has been admitted. In the meantime, I would explore his hesitation at leaving home a little more. He may not be ready at 17 y.o. - nothing wrong with that - but if he has some social fears and concerns about loneliness, that deserves some attention. OTOH, if he just wants you to do his laundry while he hits the books, it sounds like he's got it all figured out, lol!
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#8 of 17 Old 09-20-2009, 12:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
He may not be ready at 17 y.o.
But he may be in a year when he's 18. In the meantime, perhaps it would be wise to help him find some social activities where he'll be able to see that he can make friends, people do like him, etc. Sort of allay those fears of his.

I think it's normal to be afraid of the unknown. I also have a son going to college next fall. He's admitted that he's scared. But he's also excited to be taking that step. He wants to stay w/in a couple of hours of home, and there are plenty of options. He does want to live at school, and I think it's a good thing. While I'd love to have him home, I think it's an important step towards independence.

My 15yo, on the other hand, is ready to go tomorrow. She can't wait to be on her own.
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#9 of 17 Old 09-20-2009, 01:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mtiger View Post

My 15yo, on the other hand, is ready to go tomorrow. She can't wait to be on her own.
Same here. At least that's what she says.
Although, I do think she will be a little scared and nervous when the day comes.

New endeavor coming soon...
Raising Alice in Wonderland (DSD, 17), and in love with a Superman
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#10 of 17 Old 09-20-2009, 02:22 PM
 
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Same here. At least that's what she says.
Although, I do think she will be a little scared and nervous when the day comes.
While I'd like to hope she is... I'm pretty sure mine won't be. She's already very independent and on point. It's pretty cool to watch.
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#11 of 17 Old 09-21-2009, 04:58 AM
 
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Wow, I can't remember even one tiny moment of fear when I went to college (turned 18 the day I started). I was just so excited to get out of the house! Maybe this says a lot about the kind of relationship you have w/him compared to how I felt about my parents....

(FWIW, I was very responsible, loved taking care of myself, didn't go wild and was a good student from the start. I knew nobody there and looked forward to making new friends.)

I think visiting more campuses is a great idea, and also being flexible about his choices for the next year or two. Does he have any friends going to college too, who might go to the same one? If he does stay home, perhaps you and he could look into a short program (a camp or seminar of some kind?) that would have him away only a week or two -- how much time has he spent away from home like that in the past?

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#12 of 17 Old 09-21-2009, 09:33 PM
 
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Every kid has his or her own timetable.

I agree with the previous posters about exploring many options.

While a 17 year old often knows what he doesn't want, he may not know how to find what he does want. Finding out involves a lot of effort, and a lot of teens are not especially fond of putting in a big effort.

I'd say do a bit of research and then offer three options that work for you. Once he's chosen, help him work out a way of carrying through so that you are both happy with the outcome. It doesn't have to be graduation... it just has to be happy.
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#13 of 17 Old 09-22-2009, 09:57 AM
 
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I'd say do a bit of research and then offer three options that work for you. Once he's chosen, help him work out a way of carrying through so that you are both happy with the outcome. It doesn't have to be graduation... it just has to be happy.
I have to disagree. If he was 5 and trying to decide what extracurricular to be involved in? Sure. But at 17? This is not about Mom and what works for her. It should be about the young man and what will (hopefully) work for *him*.
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#14 of 17 Old 09-22-2009, 03:14 PM
 
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mtiger is right... it has to work for the 17 year old first and foremost!

However, what I meant was "works for the whole family". I wanted to emphasize that parents have a lot of wisdom and when they see their child making a bad decision (like applying to just one university for which he doesn't have the qualifying marks) that might impact everyone else (he's living at home for another year, not sure about what he'll do or how to do it) then it makes sense for them to provide a limited selection of well-thought-out options that they believe are in the best interests of the kid and everyone else.

Thanks, mtiger!
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#15 of 17 Old 09-27-2009, 11:50 PM
 
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At 17, I was terrified of going away to college and living in a dorm. I did not like the idea having to live with a bunch of other self centered immature people. I'd heard stories of getting a room mate who listened to music until 3am every night, or the room mate who brought people back for sex every night. I was worried about trying to sleep and being disturbed all the time, about trying to study and not getting any peace.

I was, however, happy to live in my own tiny 1 bedroom appartment in a quiet building. I was content to have friends over and take the bus in (rather than living with friends and walking to class).

Is it possible that he has a similar worry? That finding an alternate to dorms could help?
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#16 of 17 Old 09-28-2009, 12:25 AM
 
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My youngest D was also " absolutely terrified" of going away to college. She really was. My H and I were very worried that it would be a difficult adjustment for her. In the end, she chose a college that is 5 hours away and she left (in tears) at the end of August. We didn't know what to expect. We wondered whether we were doing the right thing. But she's been happy. I realize every child is different. All I'm saying is that my D was also terrified and so far, it seems to be working out. I don't know about your son and how it will work out, but sometimes the outcome is much better than you might expect.
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#17 of 17 Old 09-28-2009, 10:35 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daylily View Post
My son is 17 and will be applying to colleges this fall. He has told me that he is absolutely terrified of leaving home to go to college. We live in a city that has a well-respected university and he wants to go to school there, simply because it would mean he could continue to live at home. I have no objection to him going to the university near us, but it's not an easy school to get into, so if he is not accepted, he'll be devastated.

I have told him that we would never kick him out of the house, and that he can stay home until he is ready to move out, but I don't want him missing college over this. We have discussed the possibility of taking a year off to live at home and work and then go to college.
Both of these also sound like good options. Maybe he should apply to the university in your city, and think about taking a year off, in addition to applying to other schools. Also - he still has a year to go, and maybe by next September he'll feel differently. Good luck!!!
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