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Dropping Out of College

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Son feels like a failure after dropping out of college

Dec 2012

My son has dropped out of college after 2+ years, and after failing multiple classes at UCR. After coming home, he said that he felt like a failure, and will not even discuss his future. He often sleeps during the day, plays video games, does not want to leave the house. He is very resistant to talking about how he feels, what he wants to do, etc. We think he may be depressed and we think he would benefit from some therapy. We would like a therapist who is very familiar with young men, who are not in touch with their feelings, who have lost their way in life. Please send recommendations for therapists in this area. Thanks! Concerned Mom


Sorry to tell you, you are not alone. A lot of my son's friends came back after 2 years in college. I have no idea what is going on.We read all around that there is a problem with boys, etc but I don't hear solutions...is a totally different story with girls.. My son is seen Dr Frank Davis in Berkeley (510) 496-3470. I think he is great with young man and pretty helpful to the whole family. I know how you feel, hopefully our boys will be able to figure it out. good luck! mgr
I have dealt with exactly this situation. It's a very difficult issue, but you have to get your son to face it without shame or guilt.

Many people find UC extremely competitive, and failure is a real possibility. Failure also quickly cascades at UC. Most UC students are top high school students (many 4.0+ GPA, top scores), so going from A's to C's, D's or even F's is traumatic and they don't know what to do. The shame of failure can become so consuming that a student stops going to class, refuses to talk to counselors, friends or professors and spirals deeper into depression. It's tragic.

You don't say how long your son has been home, but he needs to work through these issues, so a therapist is a good idea.

However, you are neglecting the biggest elephant in the room: did he simply ''drop out'' in good standing? Was he on probation? Was he dismissed from the university? Do you even know the true status? As long as this is unresolved, he will feel agonized.

Many students assume the worse, but there are many paths back into the university when a student is ready - even if he has been dismissed. One young man I counseled submitted an appeal letter explaining his medical issues and dismissal was rescinded. He then received a formal leave of absence to pursue work opportunities. In his case, UC advising made it very clear they would love to have him back when he was ready and outlined the procedures through which this could be accomplished. They said they wished more students would come and talk with them instead of running away.

This may be the crux of the agony for your student as well. Find a good college adviser with experience with UC to aid you and your son to deal with his academic issues immediately. Frankly, there is *no* shame in going to UC advising. Even the best of us fail utterly at times in our life - and a few of them are Nobelists.

Your son is *not* stupid. UC doesn't make mistakes like that. But no one is perfect, and at times we all need help. With the careful guidance of a college adviser advocate, UC advising can help your son. Good Luck


Hey There, We too have a bright son who dropped out of college in Jan 2012 after failing classes, came out feeling like a total failure and slipped into a deep depression. While we still are not on the other side of this hard journey, we have made progress. He started seeing a therapist 2 x week, had an neuropsy eval and ended up with a dx of ADHD, depression and anxiety. He has continued with therapy, meds and started taking classes at Laney. We also do weekly family therapy. I suggest Samuel Tabachnik, PHD who does a lot of work with young men. There is also a parents group for this specific issue run by a woman named April Wise. I think a new group will start in January. I have felt very alone and at a loss how to help him and ourselves at times. My advice to you is therapy, patience with yourself as you struggle with the stress this brings and with him as well. Good luck. anon
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