Opinion Reader Contributed Schools

Freshman Faceplant

Submitted photo

When the novelty wears off and the reality sets in.

By Susan Schaefer, M.Ed., M.A.T., Academic Coaching Associates

Is your child having a 'Freshman Faceplant'? [Note this is a submitted photo but it NOT a photo of Susan Schaefer's son.]

Is your child having a ‘Freshman Faceplant’? [Note this is a submitted photo but it NOT a photo of Susan Schaefer’s son.]

[Editor’s note: West Hartford resident Susan Schaefer will be writing for We-Ha.com on a regular basis. The following is a reprint of an article previously written by Schaefer and first published in December 2011. It is reprinted with her permission.]

My college freshman texted me that he wanted to Skype with me.

I found this unsettling because he had never asked me to Skype before. My mind went straight to the obvious: he was failing, he was caught with less-than-legal substances, he was going to be a baby-daddy, etc. I knew it had to be bad because he never seems to want to burden me with the good stuff; he’s very considerate that way.

So I braced myself in to watch the badly-dubbed movie that is my son telling me in sort-of real time what terrible thing happened. Ready? In between inhaling Pringles, he tells me he’s bored. I just know your heart is bleeding for him at this very moment.

It took some questioning, but I finally got to the crux of the situation. He is studying harder than he ever studied before, but getting worse grades. He has made some nice friends, but misses his friends from home. The frat parties, that he lived for when he first got to school, aren’t as much fun anymore. He swears everyone else is smarter than he is and thinks it’s a mistake that he was accepted.

In essence, the novelty has worn off and reality has set in. He also said there is nothing to do on weekday evenings because everyone is studying. Hmmm, what could he do at night when everyone is studying? Study perhaps?

It seems this is not unusual. The “Freshman Faceplant” usually hits after Thanksgiving break, after kids go home and get to hang out with all their friends for the first time since the summer. They are so happy to see one another! It’s a love-fest!

They begin comparing notes, then several talk about transferring and the others think, “Hmm, transferring may just be the answer!” because the grass is always greener. Then they go back to school.

So what do you do when your child tells you they are unhappy at school? Listen, reassure them you support them, and then do nothing.

For some of us, it’s pure torture to do nothing. After all, we want to help them solve their problems. We want them to be happy. However, if we swoop in like the Fairy Godmother/Father every time they hit a roadblock, how will they learn to rely on themselves?

The reality is, this low point will most likely blow over. Often, once they have dumped this on your head, they feel much better. So, after your sleepless night, check in again. Odds are they will be back to their version of normal.

Sue Schaefer is an academic coach and certified teacher. We encourage you to visit her website Academic Coaching Associates. You may email Sue at [email protected], Like her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter at @sueschaefer1.

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