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Parent's Weekend is here!


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DH and I are heading out tonight to go visit DS.  This will be the first time DH visits the campus.  We are both excited.  I have a small care package to take with us and am including a pumpkin and apple cider from our local orchard.

 

I have been struggling with DS"s absence more than I thought I would.  I think part of my heartache is due to DGD. She misses Uncle more than anything and has been speaking about him daily.  I have found her sitting on his bed and holding his pillow. We ran errands the other day and she wandered the card aisle until she found a card she wanted to send to him.  It was a birthday card but that doesn't matter.  She told me that she needs Uncle to come home so we can be a family.  It breaks my heart. 

 

I can't wait to see him.  1000 miles seems so far away.

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It's all so hard. My mom remembers being furious at 6 when her aunt didn't take her along on her honeymoon.  It's awful having children so far away even if you are excited for them. Enjoy your visit !!   :grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

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It,s heartbreaking, isn,t it? When oldest left for college, not only did I have to deal with my grief, but I had to deal with his baby cousins (I babysat for years while my sister taught) and even worse, the grief of his dog. That last was a double grief because I knew that oldest was missing her badly. Among other things, he was having trouble sleeping without her on his feet. Adjusting to college was a huge challenge for him and I knew he was miserable. Family weekend was a big event. We brought grandparents, siblings, and the dog. It was fabulous to see where oldest was, meet his friends, and be together again. I hope you have a wonderful time and the weather is good so you get to see the campus at its cheeriest.

 

Hugs,

Nan

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Nan - DS's dog has adopted DGD as a surrogate.  He sleeps with her now and whines whenever she leaves or returns home.   He is off his feed, though, and I have noticed him slowing down a bit on our walks.

 

I giggled at your wish for good weather.  DS is in VA and it's rained for three days and Joaquin is promising more rain throughout the weekend.  We've packed our galoshes and rain coats.  I wonder what will happen with all of the outdoor activities that are planned.  

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Lol... Pretty horrid! We,ve been eyeing the weather map for that area for awhile now, since whatever they are having is coming up the coast to us. It is all pretty colours, between the flood watches, Joaquin,s track, and the storms. Are you flying?

 

Nice that the dog has someone else available for comfort. Nice for both of them.

 

Nan

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Lol... Pretty horrid! We,ve been eyeing the weather map for that area for awhile now, since whatever they are having is coming up the coast to us. It is all pretty colours, between the flood watches, Joaquin,s track, and the storms. Are you flying?

 

Nice that the dog has someone else available for comfort. Nice for both of them.

 

Nan

No, we're driving. It's the only way we can afford for both of us to go.  We're looking forward to the car trip.

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Yes, long rides like that are nice. Lots of time to talk or listen to a book or just watch the world go by. It should be a pretty drive, too, given the terrain. And gas is cheap at the moment. We,ve had some years where the price put a severe crimp in the 200 some odd mile drive down to see our sons. I really appreciated it when I was retrieving friends, too, for a holiday and the friends pooled their money and filled my tank. And bought me a cup of tea. : ) maybe you can watch a basketball game instead of football. Lab and workshop and art gallery tours are inside things. Youngest,s school always has student concerts. We,ve heard some wild things that we,d never normally consider buying tickets for that way.

 

Nan

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I hope you have a great time!

 

It's parents weekend for ds too, but we're still waiting for him to decide if he wants us to come. We're only 45 min away and have seen ds almost every weekend. He went to church with us once, to lunch with us twice and came home overnight one night during Labor Day weekend. I totally relate to how hard it has been to have him gone. For the first week I was a mess. I've gradually done better. Dd misses ds, but she stays busy and doesn't pine. She has gone to lunch with ds on campus and taken him a care package. The pets have missed him too. Our dog has been edgy ever since he left as if she is constantly looking for him. Ds's pet ferret was depressed for a couple of weeks, but has latched onto me now.

 

They really leave a big hole behind don't they? 

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We visited older son at Freshman Family Weekend a couple of weeks ago.  We had a great time, and younger brother was able to stay in dorm room with older brother.  Now younger son wants to go there also!  We had to explain that college is more than hanging out in dorm and going to a football game.

 

It was good to see son happy and settled In. It was also nice to meet his new friends and students in his dorm.

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I hope you have a great weekend in spite of the weather.  At least they're saying the hurricane will stay further away.  That's a plus.  Glad your dh is getting to see the campus!

 

We're off to see middle son this weekend too.  I'm really looking forward to it.  It's his fall break.  Parent's weekend is next weekend, but it's really more of a homecoming for alumni (IMO) at his school.  We're rather whisk him away to spend time with him for a couple of days.

 

I think we may get rain too.  Time will tell.

 

Next month we'll be flying down to see youngest in his play.  It'd be nice if they get the weather committee going on that one for us!   :lol:

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Have a wonderful trip!!!!!!

 

We are going down to DD21's school next weekend for her senior music recital.  I actually saw the school this summer on a whirlwind trip (2 days) with her when she had to go back and take a test, but this is the first time the rest of the family will see it.  She is pretty excited to show us around.

 

You would think we would be used to it by now - but she left the first of August and it seems like it has been SUCH A LONG TIME!

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DS's school is only 2 hours away, and he is a senior (transferred in last year as a junior). We had fun going up for a day of parent weekend last year -- and after giving us a campus tour, DS actually wanted to do things OFF campus instead of the planned family events, so that was fun going out into the city.

 

This year, he's making plans to come home for the parent weekend. :) Yea! He's missing home and dog -- he's been gone for 8 weeks, as he had to go 2 weeks early for leadership training (special scholarship program requirement) before classes started, so he's ready for a visit home. :)

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Please do not quote - I will delete in a bit.  I just need to process.

 

Parent's Weekend was an interesting experience.  My emotions are in a state of turmoil and I am still processing the weekend.  

 

Part of me wants DS to transfer at the semester.  The other part wants him to stick it out and succeed.  The school is a fit academically.  This school was the second best financial aid offer DS received so we can afford the tuition and room and board.  What I worry about is the social fit.  It doesn't exist.  DS gets along well with his roommate but that's about it. In every other aspect of college life DS is alone.  He studies alone, eats alone, hangs out on the weekend alone.  

 

The school is a school of privilege. The majority of students are from the 1-5%.  Partying, sex and looking the other way is standard. The school's on campus email system is used to advertise frat and sorority parties (one claimed drunkenness and sex were guaranteed).  The school is aware of the email and does nothing to curb its use for this purpose. Secret societies are well known and encouraged.  You can see the tags all over campus.  DS has not been approached by one on-campus organization for possible inclusion.  Not one.  He's signed up for general clubs and the like but the social life of this school is based almost exclusively on frat, soror and society affiliation.   We had no idea it was like this.  

 

As for PW in general, everything DH and I did was wrong.  We arrived early Friday evening after driving for 14 hours.  It took longer than expected due to construction and weather.  As as result, we missed every academic presentation and meeting.  We arrived just in time for dinner which we could not attend because we weren't dressed appropriately.  We ended up taking DS out for dinner and to Walmart for some shopping.  The nearest mall is an hour away and Walmart is the only box store in town.  We completed DS's shopping, helped him reorganize his side of the dorm room, and left.  His roommate and his parents had received invitations to the late night ceremonies by frats and societies so we had the room to ourselves.

 

For Saturday, we wore clothes like we would wear to church or work.  We were not dressed up enough and it was obvious we didn't fit in. While we were on campus, people looked right through us.  Only the school employees acknowledged our presence.  It was quite uncomfortable. We ended up not attending any of the offered activities and instead went off to do the tourist thing - museums, graveyards, Civil War sites - and took DS to a movie.  

 

I cannot recall the last time I felt so obviously out-of-place.  I fought back tears the entire weekend. I am left wondering how these top level schools anticipate the social success of first generation students when the gap is so wide.  There is so much we didn't know we didn't know.

 

 

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I realize it's silly for me to be sad but I just don't know what to do.  

 

Here's an example of what I am concerned about:  Each student is to have an appropriate outfit for school ceremonies and such.  We took DS to the mall in the city and bought a charcoal grayblazert, lighter gray slacks, a white Oxford shirt, and multiple ties (burgundy, black, and bright blue (school color)). I think he looks handsome and well put together.   He said he is the only one wearing gray to the events.  The other males all have navy blazers and tan/khaki pants. There is a pic of the students in a processional during orientation,  Yup, they are almost exclusively in blue and tan.  Indeed, this appeared to be the outfit for Parents weekend. Almost every male we saw was in a gold-buttoned blue blazer and tan slacks.  

 

Is this common knowledge?  No one dresses like that here in our small midwest town.  Well, the old Dean of Students at the local LAC did before he left.

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Big huge hugs from me, too. :grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

 

Yikes! Sometimes it takes kids a while to find their "tribe" and sometimes the "tribe" just isn't there to find. Do you think he can stick it out long enough to have his transfer applications done and find a good place to go? If he's really miserable, yes, you should pull him sooner rather than later.

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I went to a university with a bunch of wealthy kids. Initially it was difficult because I was not used to being around people who had much money at all. Everyone at the university seemed so *with it* and I was just a bumpkin from Montana. What I came to find out was that many of the wealthy kids had other problems in their families.

 

The group of friends I eventually bonded with were all well off but they were also kind and a lot of fun to be around. They accepted me and my frugal ways. LOL. Maybe your son will eventually find a group of buddies who like him no matter what.

 

As for the suit, maybe you could get your son a used navy blazer and a pair of khaki pants. The outfit you put together sounds classier and more professional and could be something he wears for future interviews or other events. Btw, the formal dress I wore cost me a dime from Goodwill. I wish I would have saved it. It was blue silk and all hand sewn and no one knew (or cared) that it was from Goodwill. My friends eventually went *thrifting* with me for fun. I am still a thrifter at heart.

 

My vote is to give your son a bit more time to find his buddies. Your son has a caring family and that may be a lot more than some of the other kids have.

 

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More  :grouphug: . I just wanted to echo what MBM and JanetC said about sometimes it takes time to find your place and your "tribe" -- we were also told that at college orientation session we attended the summer before DS started at college.

 

 

The most important thing right now:

- Will DS be okay emotionally and mentally to finish out the semester?

- In other words, is he "safe" in dealing with the isolation and being a "foreigner" to the culture, in order to stay for 2.5 more months? 

- What did DS say or express about all of this? What kind of impact does this have on him? (It might be this was harder for you than it is for him…)

 

 

For helping now (and to make staying through spring semester a possibility if that is what your family decides is best):

- Is there a mentoring program at the school that DS could participate in -- an older student paired with a new student and they spend time together regularly?

- Can DS be looking for another "foreigner" (lol) in one of his classes, and befriend them?

- Can DS join an intramural sports team?

- Is your family part of a faith or church? If so, could DS join the weekly Bible study or on-campus denomination group? He might also be able to learn some of the "culture" and "expectations" and "code of dress" informally by asking questions from this group, which would hopefully be more inclusive and less judgmental.

- Is there a campus counseling service or student life office DS could go to and ask for help? For example: "I'm very new to the culture of this state and to this campus; I can see that I dress differently and don't understand all of the social culture; what helps can you provide or point me toward to help me learn how things work here, how to dress, how to fit in, etc."

- Is there an off-campus church, or group, or "tribe" that DS can connect with to help him bridge the cultural divide?

- Is there a WTM family living in that area who can "adopt" DS for the semester/year, so he has family/friend support and people he can ask for help with these cultural divide questions?

 

 

It sounds like a discussion needs to happen at the Christmas break:

- Is this something that just needs more time for DS to find his place and tribe?

- Is the "cultural divide" too great to be bridged?

- If so, can he manage to finish out the year, or will that be too painful, stressful, and difficult?

- Is there an option through this university of doing a semester abroad, so he finishes the year -- just not on campus?

 

 

If DS were to leave after this semester, he has lots of options:

- treat it like a gap semester (see: "Revisiting the Gap Year Concept" -- Jenn's idea in post #10 might be perfect!)

- take a break from college and work full time

- participate in an internship or apprenticeship

- live at home and knock out gen. ed. credits at the local community college

- study at home and do CLEP tests that will transfer as credit

- transfer to a different university

 

 

And for right now, maybe something positive you can work on is to start investigating other colleges, just in case:

- pull out all your research from last year

- look into Colleges That Change Lives (Pope)

- ask here and research online, for colleges that will be an *encouraging* place and a good *social fit* as well as have a solid degree program -- college is NOT just about career preparatory academics, but also about the opportunity to explore identity, ask the big questions and have late night discussions with peers, and develop social relational skills for adulthood

 

Don't let money be the main determining factor; but if transferring would cut off all financial aid, look into some of the MANY alternative ideas for funding college in this thread: "s/o Cautionary Tale/high college costs - a brainstorm $$ ideas thread!" -- things like:

- tuition-free colleges

- college tuition exchange program (go out of state for in state tuition)

- SMART scholarships (tuition reimbursement -- work for tuition)

 

 

:grouphug:  Hugs as you grieve, and work through this weekend. :( And, when you're ready and it's time, BEST wishes for working together with DS to find the solution to this situation. Warmest regards, Lori D.

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I'd love to know what college we're talking about...

 

Based upon your experiences, I'd probably pull my guy with what you describe.  When a school revolves around frat/Greek life, it truly revolves around it and it's not going to change.  That was never a thing my guys wanted, so we purposely looked for schools without a huge Greek presence (some was ok).

 

However, there tend to be outlier students who want something different in pretty much any school.  If your guy can find some of those, his life could be different.

 

Youngest attends a school that ranks #3 in Reefer Madness and # 16 or 17 for Hard Liquor.  He likes neither.  His first semester he felt he wasn't fitting in at all.  His second semester he got involved in acting (something he loves) and more involved in a church group (ditto).  He now has plenty of friends, loves it there, and is getting the wider college education/experience we wanted our guys to have and love (no weed or hard liquor needed).  Finding one's tribe really can make or break an experience.

 

I wish you wisdom.   :grouphug:

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ScouterMom - I am so sorry to hear this.

 

As I read your post, I was thankful that you are able to come here and share how you are feeling about this. However, as I *re-read* your post, I noticed that these were all concerns and sadness that *you* were expressing. How does your ds feel about the school and the atmosphere? Does he seem sad/regretful about being there? Is he stating these concerns as well?

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(((Scoutermom)))

 

I mostly lurk, but I just wanted to give you a virtual hug.  I'm sorry the weekend was a bummer for you!

 

I believe I know which school your son attends but I won't mention it here.  It has a reputation for being as you described, but it also has one for being a place of academic excellence and wonderful opportunities.  From what I have heard your son is doing well in avoiding the frats there.

 

Yes, the social life is dominated by Greeks at that school, and there are a lot of ribald parties.  Yes, he is feeling out-of-place.  But, yes, there are probably MANY students at that school who are feeling the same way.  He just needs to find them. 

 

I hope he gives it a year-long chance, and that it works out for him.

 

Blessings,

GardenMom

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:grouphug:   I'm so sorry to hear about your weekend experience.  Unfortunately his school does have this Greek life rules reputation and has less SES diversity, and other types of diversity, than other top schools.  At the same time, there is the potential to get a great education.

 

I would encourage your son to do his absolute best in his classes as this will give him the best chance of a good transfer if he should choose to do that.  Unfortunately financial aid is generally less for transfer students, so instead of just running NPCs, you'd likely have to contact the financial aid offices of potential colleges to find out what his aid would likely be.  I would not rule out other top schools as most are much more accepting than he's finding there.  The Fiske Guide might be helpful in reading about the culture and vibe of different schools so he can choose ones which might be a better fit.

 

In the meantime, if at all possible, I would try to help your son get the navy blazer and khaki pants so he has the right "uniform".  Again other schools are much more diverse and probably don't even have dress requirements.  I'd also encourage him to get involved in the clubs which are open to everyone.  He doesn't have to wait for an invite, but simply show up at a meeting.  As his school is part of Questbridge, they should have a QB Scholars group.  That group would be where he'd find other students who are there due to generous financial aid and he might find his tribe or at least a friend or two.  He should be able to join even if he wasn't involved in QB.  If this group isn't active, he might consider starting a club which promotes social activities for students not involved in the Greek life.  Clubs are often well funded by the college and this would give these students the ability to host the types of events they'd like to attend. 

 

Obviously he should also be in volved in clubs revolving around his major areas of interest.  When the focus is on academic interests, it should matter little what frat one is or isn't involved with.  I hope he finds his niche there or that he finds some good transfer options.  :grouphug:

 

Adding that on campus jobs are another great way to meet other students.

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I am going to toss out one issue one of ds's friends faced.

 

He had narrowed his choices down to two LACs. Had waited until the VERY last minute to decide. Started at the first school, and it was NOT the fit for him. He and his family were trying to figure out whether he should transfer at semester or wait it out a year. The parents were inclined to have him wait it out a year UNTIL they found out that the second LAC would still honor the MERIT scholarship money they had offered him but ONLY if he transfered at semester (while he was still a freshman). At that point, they decided for him to transfer at semester so that he could still "claim" those scholarships. The second school was abundantly clear that he had to transfer at semester and that they would not give the scholarship money to him if he transferred after a year.

 

This was totally MERIT-BASED scholarship money. These were both private LACs. This family does not receive any need-based financial aid. So, I have no idea how or if this might work, but you *might* consider going back to some of his other options where he had been offered mert-based awards to see what their policies would be if he were to transfer at semester.

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Thank you so much for the encouragement and the kindness.  The issues are mine.  DS tells me he is happy (content was his word of choice) and that he wants to stay.  He is not ticcing so the stress must not be bothering him.  Invariably, the choice is his and I will respect that.  I just ache for him.  He never had a tribe in high school.  His way of thinking, life philosophy, and how he approached things varied greatly from the typical boy at his school.  I naively hoped that it would change when he went to college.  I also realize that 6 weeks isn't enough time to find one's place but to hear that he eats alone and hasn't been invited to join groups breaks my heart. He has met a couple of other Eagle Scouts and he said they talk and have hung out a couple of times.  

 

He loves his classes and is dong well.  He has been approached as a candidate for a scholarship to study abroad this spring.  His largest class has 12 students in it and he says he enjoys being able to discuss issues with people who are knowledgeable and don't tease him for his vocabulary or desire to debate.

 

I just have to trust his judgement.  In the meantime, I will drink a lot of chai, continue planning my thru hike, and try not to make trouble where there isn't any.

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I'd love to know what college we're talking about...

 

Based upon your experiences, I'd probably pull my guy with what you describe.  When a school revolves around frat/Greek life, it truly revolves around it and it's not going to change.  That was never a thing my guys wanted, so we purposely looked for schools without a huge Greek presence (some was ok).

 

However, there tend to be outlier students who want something different in pretty much any school.  If your guy can find some of those, his life could be different.

 

Youngest attends a school that ranks #3 in Reefer Madness and # 16 or 17 for Hard Liquor.  He likes neither.  His first semester he felt he wasn't fitting in at all.  His second semester he got involved in acting (something he loves) and more involved in a church group (ditto).  He now has plenty of friends, loves it there, and is getting the wider college education/experience we wanted our guys to have and love (no weed or hard liquor needed).  Finding one's tribe really can make or break an experience.

 

I wish you wisdom.   :grouphug:

I remember your DS's experience and have actually discussed it with DH as a way to soothe my fears.

 

I admit to having to look up Reefer Madness and Hard Liquor rankings.  I was not familiar with those.  

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