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How to recover from a bad beginning of the semester


Jen in NY
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OK, Ladies --- help me with some triage for my niece:

 

The long and short of it is she needs to pull off some passing grades this semester. She's depressed, and there's one week until "W" is no longer an option. I think her parents are flirting with the idea of letting her take the "W"s and walk away.

 

The thing is, this entire adventure is funded by loans, and if she walks away she'll have to start paying loans in 6 months and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Nothing to transfer somewhere else ... no credit for this semester.

 

My idea at this point is that she should go into each profs office and ask each one what she needs to do to pass. If there's no hope for the majority of the classes maybe "W" is the way to go, but if she can pull off at least 'c's it's probably worth more to her than she will make in any job for the next few years. (ie: 15,000 in loans for this semester.... so 3000/class for a month of work at this point.)

 

Any tips?? She is in my town. I am willing to do anything to help her. In fact, I think she may come here every day to study next week. (She has 8am and 5pm classes.... nothing in between except Fridays.) I think she's been hiding in her room watching Netflix during these hours for the majority of the semester.

 

Best advice, please!! I really want to show her she can succeed at this or at least give it a 'college try!'

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The first question would be: how bad exactly are her grades? She needs to have a clear idea of her standing before making any decisions. Ideally, a student should keep up with her grades and have this information at any point during the semester; if she really does not know, she needs to make appointments to see her instructors as soon as possible.

Second: what is the benefit of withdrawing over taking a D or F? Normally, students with D or F grades are allowed to retake the class and replace the failing grade. The only reason somebody would drop a course at this point would be the need to maintain a certain GPA for scholarships (do NOT get me started on this - it is one of my pet peeves).

Third: what are her long term plans? Even if she had  a bad semester and flunked everything, she could still return to school in the fall and do better.

 

I am not entirely sure I understand the situation.

 

ETA: If her low performance is actually caused by acute clinical depression that prevents her from completing her work, she may qualify for a grade of Incomplete. The school will have rules in place for that. Typically, however, the student must have had  a passing grade up to the point of the illness. With an Incomplete, students are given a list of things they have to complete and a year to do so to earn their credit. It is intended for students who get sick at the end of the semester.

 

2nd ETA: If she decides to go ahead and try, she should make sure to use all offered learning assistance on campus. There should be learning centers, writing centers, tutoring, office hours... nowadays colleges really offer a lot of resources. She should try to get together with other students and work in a group on homework and studying; that will be the most effective, and more effective than working at your house.

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Agreeing with regentrude.

 

Could you sit down with her and each syllabus and help her figure her grades?

A lot of schools have online grades now as well. Students in my classes can see their current grade online.

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Hmmm... OK I hadn't thought of the Inc. option... but I am not sure that the school would go for that at this point, because it's not a sudden onset problem.

 

The idea of her coming to our house came up because I know she has been unmotivated to seek out help in any form... really unmotivated to attempt the work... and since most of what we are doing here at the house right now is fairly quiet AP Prep type stuff I thought it might be a good atmosphere - and a change from her room. (plus we have awesome wifi and healthy, homemade lunch!) I have suggested tutoring, counseling center, study groups...etc in the past. I don't think she's willing. She is talking to a counselor from her hometown on the phone and sometimes in person when she is home... which is most weekends.

 

I am sure this sounds terrible, but I don't think she's blowing it off because she's being lazy. I have come to think that she's deeply unhappy and can't get herself out of her situation enough to see that it doesn't have to be that way. Or to see that taking advantage of the help available will be of any use to her.

 

She is considering withdrawing because she doesn't want to be at school anymore, and I think her parents think it would be better in the future if she decides to apply somewhere else to have W's as opposed to bad grades. Maybe we are not understanding that part correctly. She's not going back to her current school next year, and in fact she's dropping her major. I still think that if she can possibly pull off these classes it is worth (a lot of) money to her in the end, because she could potentially transfer the credits as electives into another program in the future. It saddens me that she will have such a debt burden to pay with absolutely nothing to show for it. I also think it could be good for her to dig deep and pull it off... even just passing... to see for herself that she can do it. Then no matter what happens down the road she will know that she can pass a college level class, even if it's hard.

 

Really though, I just hope she's mentally and emotionally safe... and that is what I am invested in ... it really makes no difference to me personally if she doesn't stick it out in the end. We'll still love her, lol. :)

 

Anyway... I think they are coming to the end of this particular part of the journey, and I was just hoping there might be something I could do to help. I appreciate your thoughts and suggestions very much. If there are any more I'd love to hear them.

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The first question is whether she is still going to class.  If not, then she has a bigger problem than just bad grades.

 

Does she know where the syllabi for the classes are?  Can you look at them together?  That would help, probably.

 

Sounds like the stress is causing her to freeze up.  The solution to this, we've discovered, is for someone (like you) to help her to start moving forward again.  It sounds like nagging when you do it.

"What are you going to say to the prof's when you see them?"

"Have you figured out Prof X's office hours yet?  What time today are you going to go talk to him?" (Or her.)

"Call me when you are headed there so I know you remembered."

"Call me when you get finished and tell me what he said."

"What is your plan today?"

Etc.

 

You can explain the frozen part and how this is what it sometimes takes to get someone un-frozen and ask if she is willing for you to help walk her through all the steps, then try to figure out the friendliest prof and send her to see him first.  The situation might not be as bad as she thinks.  In my experience, once she has figured out exactly what she needs to do and has a plan that will help her to do it, and a plan (like studying with friends or at the tutoring center) for keeping it from happening next time, the she will become unfrozen and able to move forward.

 

You can help her figure out exactly what it takes to flunk out entirely and what it takes to be put on academic probation.  It may well be that she can flunk everything this semester and still be able to return in the fall on academic probation.

 

I agree with Regentrude that W's aren't really much help for this sort of situation unless she has to get a certain gpa.  If she is planning to retake the classes, then probably continuing through them so she knows more and will do better when she retakes them is a better plan than withdrawing now.

 

I think your idea of having her come study at your house is a good one.

 

Helping her to decide what to do every day, or even step by step through each day, is probably what you are going to have to do.

 

If she is taking gen ed classes at this point, and it all just seems the same as high school, then it probably would help to help her find some classes she is excited about for next fall.  Otherwise, she may do this again.  It is hard to slog through college classes with no direction or goal, if you don't particularly like studying and would rather be doing something else.

 

Does the school have a counselor?  (I probably mangled that spelling - sorry.)  If so, one of the first things I would do is get her set up to meet with him or her.  They can be really helpful.

 

Good luck!

Nan

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Ok - we posted at the same time.  : )  Some of what I wrote is applicable and some is not.  Just hearing that "frozen" is one way of dealing with stress might help her to feel a bit better about herself.  My doctor says that researchers are now thinking fight-or-flight is really fight-or-flight-or-freeze.  It also might help to talk about late-bloomers and gap years.  The idea that she might have been better of waiting a year or two and that many, many people try college, give up, and then try again a few years later and find that it is "suddenly" do-able, perhaps even fun, might be helpful.  I think you are on the right track, and finishing up the semester, even with a flunked class and poor grades in the rest, would be better for her than quitting outright.  On the other hand, if she can't do it, she can't.  I'd first try to find out if she has been going to class, and then try to look at the syllabi with her and figure out how many assignments she's skipped entirely, and then I'd help her to go see her prof's.  This might require walking her to the prof's doors and being there to hug her when she emerges.  I'd be worried about letting her "cop out" by quitting without going through this step, at least.  If all her prof's say she will flunk no matter what, then you can reassess and consider withdrawing.  It isn't really a good idea to let kids just quit when they aren't successful.  It doesn't really send a good message.  Instead of sending the message "You might have made some bad choices but you are strong and we believe in you", letting the quit without investigating says "We know you can't do this.  We know you've messed up so badly that things can't be fixed and you are too weak even to wind things up properly."  She needs to hear that you have confidence in her and even if she decides she never wants to go to college, you are sure she will find something wonderful to do eventually, that it just takes some people awhile longer than others, and that you will love her no matter what.  And that she is still young and plenty of people don't know what they want to do at that age and aren't contributing members of society, taking care of themselves, at that age.  That last part is especially important, I know, because I, too, left college at one point and felt like I was the only person in the world who was my age and not self-supporting, despite tons of evidence to the contrary.

 

Good luck and hugs,

Nan

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Does she know where the syllabi for the classes are?  Can you look at them together?  That would help, probably.

 

Sounds like the stress is causing her to freeze up.  The solution to this, we've discovered, is for someone (like you) to help her to start moving forward again.  It sounds like nagging when you do it.

"What are you going to say to the prof's when you see them?"

"Have you figured out Prof X's office hours yet?  What time today are you going to go talk to him?" (Or her.)

"Call me when you are headed there so I know you remembered."

"Call me when you get finished and tell me what he said."

"What is your plan today?"

Etc.

 

You can explain the frozen part and how this is what it sometimes takes to get someone un-frozen and ask if she is willing for you to help walk her through all the steps, then try to figure out the friendliest prof and send her to see him first.  The situation might not be as bad as she thinks.  In my experience, once she has figured out exactly what she needs to do and has a plan that will help her to do it, and a plan (like studying with friends or at the tutoring center) for keeping it from happening next time, the she will become unfrozen and able to move forward.

 

I think your idea of having her come study at your house is a good one.

 

Helping her to decide what to do every day, or even step by step through each day, is probably what you are going to have to do.

 

Good luck!

Nan

This is what I was thinking. And another good reason to get her here at the house, at least for a couple of days. I am not really a touchy-feely-in-your-face kind of Aunt, but if she's willing to accept help from me I am willing to dig deep myself and go against my nature to help her get'er'done. There have been times in my life when I needed a little shepherding... I think that's where she's at.

 

Thanks for this.

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Shepherding.  What a GREAT way to put it!  I've needed that at various points, too.  It doesn't seem to be a very popular option in our culture today.  People think it means that you'll be stuck needing to be shepherded forever.  They can't somehow see that it is just a way out of a bad spot.

 

I think at this point, you are going to have to try.  You'll never be able to live with yourself if you don't.  If she decides it isn't helpful and tells you to go away, then at last you'll know you tried.

 

Are you going to start right away?  Unfortunately, with school, every day that goes by makes the situation worse.

 

Nan

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Well... today I already have the day booked with stuff we can't change, and I wouldn't be able to get her back to campus for her night class. Tomorrow she has more class time than any other day, her parents are coming in the middle of the day to take her to lunch, and then they'll take her home after her afternoon classes. We'll all be together Sunday for Easter, and we're bringing her back to school Sunday evening. That's when we'll make plans for next week. I am going to call my SIL and talk with her about it all again. We've been chatting, and I asked if she thought it would help for dn to come here to the house to study (she said yes...), but I am going to try and get more specific info about each class if I can.

 

Thank you!

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Has she got any Executive Function issues?  Difficulty with organizing and implementing her day?  Perhaps while she was home there were enough external structures in place that she could just flow through her day but at college she no longer has that scaffolding in place and does not have the skill sets in place to create them on her own?

 

Your plan to "shepherd" her sounds like her best option under the circumstances but if she has EF issues and those are not addressed she may not be able to function long term without continued external assistance.  I found the following book quite helpful.  You might look at it to see if anything in there speaks to you regarding your niece...

 

http://www.amazon.com/Smart-but-Scattered-Teens-Executive/dp/1609182294

 

Good luck!  I applaud you for wanting to try and help her.

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Has she had an assessment for depression? The National Institutes for Mental Health has a good article with information about depression in college students with suggestions of how to help. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-college-students/index.shtml

 

Realistically if she's not been going to class and is facing significant depression, it probably is going to be more than she can do to talk to each one of her professors. It may work better to start with her academic adviser and/or the disabilities office.

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The very first thing I would do (I teach at a university, FWIW) would be to figure out whoever is the person at the school in charge of dealing with students in trouble.  Usually that person's title is Dean of Students, Dean of Student Life, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, something like that.  I would then have her send an email to that person along the lines of, "I am in serious academic and personal distress and would like to make an appointment to talk with you as soon as possible."  Hopefully they will get back to her right away, and then she should just go in and tell the dean what is going on.   IME, most schools really want their students to succeed, and they will work with her to get back on track as much as possible.

 

I hope it all works out.  You sound like a really good aunt.  

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Talking to the professors to see if there's any possible way to pass is a good step. At this point in the semester, the professors should have enough information to give her an honest assessment. I have had several conversations this week where I explained to people that at this point, there simply was no way to get a 'C'. I think withdrawing from the ones she can't possibly pass is probably a better option than taking the 'F', and maybe it will be less overwhelming than a full slate of classes to try to complete just a few. I doubt an incomplete would be an option if she hasn't been there yet, but a medical withdrawal could be a possibility, even late. 

 

I'm going to continue with a personal story that I don't usually share. I went away to school as a freshman and ended up in a very similar situation to your niece. I didn't go to class for weeks and failed out. After that I went and got a rather menial job and worked for a few years. I saved money, got my stuff together, moved out for a while, moved back in, and decided that this wasn't the job I wanted to work in for the rest of my life. I went back to school, did my undergraduate, then my master's, then my phd, and now I'm a professor at a university.

 

Failing out of college is not the end of the world. 

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I'm going to suggest first, then read.

 

If she is depressed, can she get a counselor's letter and take medical incompletes?

 

If she had a physical ailment, it'd be possible. I think the same SHOULD be granted for mental and emotional issues. Depression is a debilitating as something like mono.

 

We are dealing with something similar with a family member (not with my college student.)

 

(((Jen))) you are wonderful to be so helpful. Sending good thoughts!

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Not an expert, and I haven't read all of the replies, but I love that you are willing to help her! Having someone who cares so much can only be a good thing for her, especially since you're right there.

 

I'd want a physical checkup, including a check for depression. Thyroid, other hormonal issues, and I'd want her exercise and diet checked -- maybe she's not eating well, or sleeping well, or getting enough sunshine/exercise, or all of it. And it can feed itself and spiral out of control fast. Can you take her to your doctor (assuming you have a good relationship with yours)? Can you take her to the store and get her stocked with fruits, snackable veggies, cheese sticks, water bottles, nuts, and other healthy snacks that can be stored in a dorm? Or do things like hard-boil some eggs or cook some chicken breasts for her a couple of times a week so that she can store them in her dorm fridge? (I'm thinking that sugar and caffeine are so easy to consume when you're living in a dorm, and maybe she needs some serious nutrition for a bit.)

 

I think talking to her profs is a great idea. I'd be sitting her down to see what she knows about their office hours/contact info, and then I'd be pushing her to talk to them. Was she a good student in high school? I know that for some students, if they were at the top of their class in high school, with little effort and little need to study, college can be very overwhelming, but "you're so smart" and people expect that you'll do just fine, but suddenly, you're trying to acquire executive function skills that you never needed. She may just need some help to break things down into manageable bites. Also, is she in the right department? I watched my husband go through engineering and political science majors, while struggling, before he found the department that really clicked for him (American studies -- very different from the other two), and then he thrived.

 

Taking Incompletes sounds like a good plan too. But she needs to talk to people. I can understand where she's coming from -- sometimes having so much on your plate is completely overwhelming and you can't hit any of it. Help her make small steps -- eat a good meal, talk to this one prof, get a medical note. And then you can sit her down with whatever info she's gathered and help her figure out the next steps.

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I agree with the advice that's been given to explore all options at her college with the appropriate faculty.  One thing that seems strange is that she had class at 8am and at 5pm.  Neither of those would be recommended times for a residential student.  Many students struggle to get to early classes, and those aren't even usually as early as 8am.  Likewise, 5pm should be the time to have classes done and preparing to join other students for dinner. Yes, there are many exceptions, but I'm speaking of her situation.   I know that people who work full time and are commuting to a community college might choose these times to work around their schedule, but for someone living on campus, especially someone struggling and likely to isolate, it doesn't sound like the best idea.  Whether she's able to return to that college in the fall, or attends classes elsewhere, it might be good if you could help her with scheduling.

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I have dealt with this with my daughter one semester.  She withdrew from one class in which she had missed too many assignments, and kept the others.  Three of the classes she knew she could pass as long as she did ok on the final, but the fourth one required a lot of effort on her part to catch up.  So here are some issues from my perspective.

  • She was still severely depressed.  Don't underestimate how much paralysis this can lead to. (I underestimated this a lot!) She knew what she needed to do, and she wanted to do it, but that didn't make it any easier for her to actually do it.  When her depression was the worst just leaving her room to go eat when she was hungry was a huge effort, let alone writing a research paper.  Depression medications can take up to 6 weeks to start working, so there is no quick fix.
  • In the final weeks of the semester I think all the assistance/reminders about assignments and studying started to make her feel like we were more concerned about her grades and the tuition money we'd spent than about her health. Someone who is depressed is already so down on themselves that it is easy to make them feel worse without meaning to.
  • She passed all her classes, but if she hadn't it would have been much worse than if she had withdrawn.  That is something I didn't think about when we made the decision for her to keep the classes, but if she had tried and still failed it would have made the depression worse, and harder to overcome.  From her perspective there is a huge difference between withdrawing for medical reasons and trying and failing.

So that all sounds kind of negative, but I wanted to give you my experience.  It worked out ok, but it was very, very difficult, and if we were faced with the same situation again I'd be much more likely to go for an incomplete or a withdrawal.

 

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That's an interesting observation about the schedule. I certainly agree that's a less than ideal schedule. I will say though there is a lot of variation from one school to the next. At our state university growth in enrollment has put classroom space at a premium so they are really using every classroom all day long. First year students get the last choice of registration so it is quite common for them to be stuck with classes at 8 a.m. and then labs that start late in the day. That can be a tough situation for students who need more downtime or bigger blocks of time to study.

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I agree about the schedule... terrible, in a way.... especially for someone who has not had a good track record managing time. Here's the scoop. First semester she was a Bio major. She did poorly... her GPA was somewhere around a 1. She dropped that major and switched, but it was after class registration had opened, so the prime classes were already full. She basically got what was left. IMO, and if it had been my daughter, there's no way I would have advised registering for semester II. But that's not what happened.

 

This particular school has massive resources for kids that are struggling or need accommodation. I am really sad for her that she hasn't reached out to grab the help that's available there to her, free for the asking. But I do understand how debilitating depression can be. I am not judging her harshly that she didn't reach out... I just wish she had. They are professional counselors, tutors, etc... not to mention peer tutors and support groups.... that are trained to help. I am just 'Aunt Jen' --- and there was no certification test for that. :)

 

PS You guys must have been lucky... I had 8oclocks almost every semester I was in school!

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I have dealt with this with my daughter one semester.  She withdrew from one class in which she had missed too many assignments, and kept the others.  Three of the classes she knew she could pass as long as she did ok on the final, but the fourth one required a lot of effort on her part to catch up.  So here are some issues from my perspective.

  • She was still severely depressed.  Don't underestimate how much paralysis this can lead to. (I underestimated this a lot!) She knew what she needed to do, and she wanted to do it, but that didn't make it any easier for her to actually do it.  When her depression was the worst just leaving her room to go eat when she was hungry was a huge effort, let alone writing a research paper.  Depression medications can take up to 6 weeks to start working, so there is no quick fix.
  • In the final weeks of the semester I think all the assistance/reminders about assignments and studying started to make her feel like we were more concerned about her grades and the tuition money we'd spent than about her health. Someone who is depressed is already so down on themselves that it is easy to make them feel worse without meaning to.
  • She passed all her classes, but if she hadn't it would have been much worse than if she had withdrawn.  That is something I didn't think about when we made the decision for her to keep the classes, but if she had tried and still failed it would have made the depression worse, and harder to overcome.  From her perspective there is a huge difference between withdrawing for medical reasons and trying and failing.
So that all sounds kind of negative, but I wanted to give you my experience.  It worked out ok, but it was very, very difficult, and if we were faced with the same situation again I'd be much more likely to go for an incomplete or a withdrawal.

 

Thanks so much for sharing this. I am going to try my hardest to support her without seeming invested in the situation... which really, other than caring about a good outcome overall for her... I am not. I just figure if they are sticking with the plan and she is going to stay in school, I don't mind working with her if she chooses to let me. I am going to keep your words in mind as this unfolds.

 

ETA: I read your post more closely, and I think you would recommend taking the Withdrawls at this point, right? I know they are talking things over today. Maybe that is the conclusion they will come to as well.

Thanks again.

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That's an interesting observation about the schedule. I certainly agree that's a less than ideal schedule. I will say though there is a lot of variation from one school to the next. At our state university growth in enrollment has put classroom space at a premium so they are really using every classroom all day long. First year students get the last choice of registration so it is quite common for them to be stuck with classes at 8 a.m. and then labs that start late in the day. That can be a tough situation for students who need more downtime or bigger blocks of time to study.

 

 

 

I agree about the schedule... terrible, in a way.... especially for someone who has not had a good track record managing time

 

Actually, I think it is not a bad schedule, especially if the student has issues:

having an 8am class forces the student to get up and going, and having a long block of uninterrupted study time between classes means that a lot can get done before the afternoon class, and less is left for the late evening. This is much more effective than starting with a 10 am class (most students will not get up early and use the time to study) and have only hour long breaks between classes that are spread out over the entire day - a student with poor time management will not get anything done on such a  schedule.

 

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I agree about the schedule... terrible, in a way.... especially for someone who has not had a good track record managing time. Here's the scoop. First semester she was a Bio major. She did poorly... her GPA was somewhere around a 1. She dropped that major and switched

 

Was she depressed back then already? Or did she have different issues?

Why did her parent let her re-enroll without intervention?

 

 

PS You guys must have been lucky... I had 8oclocks almost every semester I was in school!

We started at 7:30am. Every single day.

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A depressed student would likely find it hard to get out of bed before 8am for breakfast let alone a class.  But she had little choice due to late registration.  Any college with a 7:30am mandatory start would never have made it onto dd's list.   Military academies were definitely out.  lol

 

Jen, hoping all works out well for her in the end.

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Honestly, I don't know when the actual depression started. Of course, I know this person's history pretty well, but I was really hoping (before school started last year) that if they were really going to send her to a private 4 year school on loans that this particular school would be great for her - because of all the support available. No dice.

 

I am not really sure why her parents let her re-up without intervention! That was my biggest question at the time. No idea. Also, I didn't know just how bad it was at the time - not that it was any of my business. But had I known I would have made more of an effort to check in over there with her on a regular basis (it is about 30minutes each way to go there... so it eats up school day....) and try and talk her into signing up with student support much sooner than this. Like the minute she checked in in January. :(

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A depressed student would likely find it hard to get out of bed before 8am for breakfast let alone a class.  But she had little choice due to late registration. 

 

I know that a depressed person has a hard time getting up at all and may need an actual reason to do so. My thinking was that having a fixed reason to get up will make it more likely that it happens than the vague notion of getting up to study before having to be at mid-day classes - that is not going to happen.

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I am not really sure why her parents let her re-up without intervention! That was my biggest question at the time. No idea. Also, I didn't know just how bad it was at the time - not that it was any of my business. But had I known I would have made more of an effort to check in over there with her on a regular basis (it is about 30minutes each way to go there... so it eats up school day....) and try and talk her into signing up with student support much sooner than this. Like the minute she checked in in January. :(

 

So what about her parents? Do they not see the need for this? Will you have their support when you try to help?

 

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Yes, I think so. They have been asking (begging?) her to get help all along. I don't understand how their relationship with dn functions at this point, but I know that if dn will accept help from me they will welcome that. I had already offered to bring her here to the house on the days she has long times in-between classes when I realized that I might be able to do more. So while she is here the first couple of days (Mon, Tues...) I hope to get the lowdown on her work, see if I can get her to set up appointments very quickly, and then maybe take my kids and their schoolwork over to campus on a couple of days (Weds, Thurs....) and get her working in the library and talking to her profs. Of course this will all be more complicated than that, but I can only do what I will be able to do for her at the time. I am afraid it's too little, too late, but I think it's worth at least trying, if she's going to stay there. Then we will see what kind of support she wants/needs for the rest.

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I know that a depressed person has a hard time getting up at all and may need an actual reason to do so. My thinking was that having a fixed reason to get up will make it more likely that it happens than the vague notion of getting up to study before having to be at mid-day classes - that is not going to happen.

 

Yes I understand your reasoning, but I think that skipping the class altogether would be a more likely outcome.   I guess I look at it differently, and assume that someone who is depressed wouldn't be getting up early just to study, but would be more likely to attend class if it was at a more reasonable time than 8am.   I know 8am is usual, or for some even late, for high school, but it is generally considered very early for college.  Two different ways of looking at it, but It all comes down to what would work best for each individual student.  You may be right and it might have worked out well if she had been better connected and supported on campus.

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I agree about the schedule... terrible, in a way.... especially for someone who has not had a good track record managing time. Here's the scoop. First semester she was a Bio major. She did poorly... her GPA was somewhere around a 1. She dropped that major and switched, but it was after class registration had opened, so the prime classes were already full.

 

 

She needs to talk to an academic advisor or Dean of Students quickly, and understand what all the options are.  At many colleges, a GPA under 2 puts you on academic probation for the following semester, after which the student is subject to being dismissed from the school if they don't bring their GPA up.   I don't know what the implications of dismissal are on student loans, or applying to some other school, but those are things she needs to consider.

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She needs to talk to an academic advisor or Dean of Students quickly, and understand what all the options are.  At many colleges, a GPA under 2 puts you on academic probation for the following semester, after which the student is subject to being dismissed from the school if they don't bring their GPA up.   I don't know what the implications of dismissal are on student loans, or applying to some other school, but those are things she needs to consider.

 

Usually suspension rather than dismissal. But yeah, it will cause issues applying to other schools. One way back in that many have used is: Step 1) part-time enrollment at community college and some good grades there. Step 2) reapplying for admission to a college with an application that basically says "hey, those grades, yeah, that was a while ago and I was depressed, but I've been holding down a job for a while and here's some good grades from community college and recommendation letters from my professors there". 

 

With respect to student loans, that boat has sailed -- she won't get a refund at this point in the semester, so assuming the student loan money has already been spent, she IS liable and will need to start repayment in about 6 months after leaving. 

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Hi All,

 

Thank you for all the great advice. This weekend, I talked with her mom and she told me that the ball has to be in dn's court. If she contacts me for anything I am going to be available to her (for rides and whatnot) but I am not going to be academic advisor in any way. (This was all very amiable... I hope it doesn't come across any other way.) At this point, it looks like what will be will be.

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I understand that it is probably too late for your DN... but;

 


ETA: If her low performance is actually caused by acute clinical depression that prevents her from completing her work, she may qualify for a grade of Incomplete. The school will have rules in place for that. Typically, however, the student must have had  a passing grade up to the point of the illness. With an Incomplete, students are given a list of things they have to complete and a year to do so to earn their credit. It is intended for students who get sick at the end of the semester.

 

 

 

Our regular multi-year summer babysitter is a delightful lady(I love how that lets me blur the girl/woman divide). She is currently a  junior at a highly regarded southern LAC, honor roll, decent school year internships in NYC, etc, etc... overall someone who I would be very proud to have as a child/relative/friend, etc.

 

This Fall she was clinically depressed and withdrew from all of her classes in November. She took incompletes and has until August to clear those without failing. This Spring she is taking a very light load to allow her to resolve those issues. Overall, she will either need to take Summer courses or add a semester to graduate. This obviously sucks. But, it sucks a lot less than either withdrawing or just failing.

 

Now, admittedly she started dealing with this somewhat earlier. Drug side effects didn't help her academics. But either way, stuff happens. There is no shame in acknowledging health issues(mental or otherwise) and asking the school for help. This isn't a free ride. You have to deal with the underlying mental health issue and then clean up the mess that it caused. This is alot of work. However, it can be done and with support and hard work can salvage a very bad situation.

 

I sympathize that this doesn't seem likely for your DN. But, I want other people to know that there are processes in place to deal with this sort of situation.

 

ETA: I just wanted to add that you have to seek out this help. Universities as a whole do a really bad job dealing with these issues. However, most student counselling or student health groups do a pretty good job. Once you get beyond the stigma, they have the resources to help you get back on track(if that is what you want to do).

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I have a niece that did this; left school in her junior year and 1 year from her degree because a semester of room-mate issues had gotten her down.  There was, of course, a much bigger hidden problem, and that problem was that her mother had pushed her into a degree that was unsuited to her, at a college that was unsuited to her.  She was in the wrong field for her talent and desires.  I think it's important to find out why she is leaving; perhaps the location or major is really not for her.  A mistake of that magnitude is hard to watch (it was hard for me to watch my niece go through it), but if that's case, maybe she is better off walking away.  If this is not the situation, though, I agree with Regentrude about the possibility of an incomplete.

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  • 4 weeks later...

She's doing OK, thanks for asking. :) She dropped one course, took an inc. in another, and planned to give the three other classes a shot. She's not returning to college next year, but has some changes coming on the horizon which I am thinking are going to be very positive.

 

I know she's going to be just fine in the long run.

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