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Forcing reluctant daughter to go back to ‘perfect’ college not a perfect solution

Sad lonely student sitting on stairs in collegeDear Harlan: My daughter is finishing her freshman year at what we thought was the perfect school for her. She has had a great year academically, but has not enjoyed her experience and wants to transfer. She has made efforts socially in various groups, but has not “clicked” with anyone and is very lonely. She really feels like she doesn’t belong (she is at a state university as an out-of-state student). We told her she must return for her sophomore year, because we think much of what she is experiencing is typical freshman adjustment issues (albeit perhaps tougher than normal). She is willing to do this, mainly because she doesn’t know where she would want to transfer and cannot nail down what it specifically is that she wants from a different school. Any advice on how to help her pinpoint what a transfer would do to help her? – First-Year Father

Dear First-Year Father: A year is a valiant effort. She might need a fresh start. Transferring isn’t failing.  Approximately 1 in 4 students do it.  I transferred from one “perfect” school to another.  Why not give her the freedom to figure it out?  Let her take ownership. Even if she goes to the same school it will be her decision.  Then she will have to be the one to make it work for her — not you. Wherever she chooses, encourage to find people and places on campus.  Encourage her to get a job (perfect to meet people and find a place), participate in a group experience outside the classroom (sweat, play, and pray), and to do some volunteer work (more people and places). Also, encourage her to talk to a therapist or counselor at school.  As soon as she finds her people and places on campus, she will find the perfect campus wherever she lands.

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