Visiting student at school?

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Visiting student at school?
By Kjofkw (Kjofkw) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 09:01 am: Edit

Originally we had plans for dad to bring son to school & mom to go up 2-3 weeks later for a short visit (due to scheduling conflicts on drop-off date). The conflicts were resolved, and were both able to go for the move-in. We dropped any plans of the second visit.

However, son seems to be having a harder time than expected (if we are reading between the lines correctly). So far, he has few plans for weekends. We assumed he would be involved in social functions, or exploring campus and environs, but evidently this is rare.

Is it a bad idea to visit for part of a day? Will this make any homesickness even worse?

One thought is that if we come (for 1/2 day only), that it could reaffirm that we are not "that far away" (approx. 9 hours RT), but also reinforce that he needs to make it on his own. 9 hours is a lot for only 1/2 day, but we don't think any longer visit is wise in this case.

We would also hope by visiting, that it would "celebrate" the new place --have him show us what he has discovered, etc. His sister has yet to even see the campus. I assume that is what parent weekends are for, but theirs does not occur until November!

On the other hand....we can also see it stirring up additional homesick blues.

Any thoughts?

By Scma (Scma) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 09:20 am: Edit

Go! I went to visit my son last year (his freshman year) in October for a few hours. I had a 16 hour round trip, but did have other relatives in the area that I saw at the same time. My "spin" on my trip was that it was for me, not him - I wanted to see him in his new environment. I took him and his roommate out to lunch, made a trip to the bookstore with him, walked around a bit, and left. I don't know that the visit did much for him, but I felt better!

By Marite (Marite) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 09:24 am: Edit

How long has he been in college?

I would say don't visit. If his time is taken up entertaining you or even looking forward to your visit, he will not direct his energies toward finding things to do on campus or meeting other students. It's possible that he in fact is doing all that. There's lots to do on campus. My S's standard answer when I ask them about what they did all day is "nothing much."

Around here, Parents'weekends tend to be in October (probably to coincide with fall foliage and not with Thanksgiving).

BTW, when I went to college, I was thousands of miles from home. I was homesick but had to stick it out. I was fine. He will be, too.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 09:33 am: Edit

my inclination would be to give him a chance to devise his own solutions before trying to "fix" it.
While reading between the lines gives you the impression that he is homesick, he may be not actually feeling that way.
Didn't he just arrive?
I think it is like summer camp, it just takes a while to get acclimated, but having family there interferes with that process. You can still call, and perhaps have the bookstore send some sort of a care package that he could share, or maybe even send an email to an HA to let you know their impression, but I would hold off on the visit till parent weekend, any earlier and it looks like you think he cant cope.
( Reeds parent weekend was in Nov, right before a major paper was due, so we hardly saw daughter at all, last time I went for parents weekend)

By Emptynester (Emptynester) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 10:11 am: Edit

It's a hard one to decide and depends on the individual student imho. Some are pretty fragile at this time. Go with your gut feeling?

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 11:39 am: Edit

We IM with our son most every day. A line or two, then I let him off the hook. He's been in his dorm two weeks today, and we last spoke to him two weeks ago next Monday. Last Monday would have been my Dad's 73rd birthday, and my mom was feeling down, so I IM'd him and asked him to call her. He did, and she was so excited. She is a chronic worrier when it comes to her only two grandchildren, so I figure if he had sounded one bit unhappy, she would have said something since she and I talk every day. I tell him to call, and he says he will, but he is busy with class and meetings. He also is developing a social life, but when you ask him, his answer is a cookie cutter answer to Marite's son. "Not much." We'll probably call him this weekend. I really think he is establishing his independence right now, and I am left wondering if that is what your son is doing. Homesickness is a given at school. Unfortunately, we can't eliminate if for the them.

But certainly, if you believe that it is beyond homesickness, you may want to see for yourself.

By Thedad (Thedad) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 03:38 pm: Edit

D's School has Parents Weekend in mid-October. The school made it clear (somewhere) that they really don't think it's a good idea to come before then...the students need to adjust, bond, come to terms with, etc. They have a whole formal program for 10/15-10/17 but I suspect we will improvise, doing some events and creating our own for others.

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 03:47 pm: Edit

I think there is a real tendency by us parents to read more between the lines than is really there. Keep in mind that communication from kids at college is a lot like asking what happened that day at high school over dinner and the predictable response, "Oh, not much..."

"No much" doesn't really mean that the kid spent all day leaning against the locker all weepy and sad.

By Mstee (Mstee) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 04:03 pm: Edit

kjofkw--I don't remember which school your S goes to. Some schools, such as state schools, where most of the kids are local, empty out on weekends, (esp. the first few weeks) and don't have a whole lot going on on weekends at first, and it takes awhile to get a handle on how to spend the weekends. Other schools where a large percentage of the kids come from other areas have much more to do. So that can make a difference. I personally don't see anything wrong with driving up and taking your son (and maybe another student or two?) out to eat, visiting for a little while or exploring the area with him, if it is okay with your son.

In my own case, my son can't wait to get away--a week and a half to go! I asked him who he wanted to go with him, me or his dad and he said it would be "less embarrassing" if his dad went (ouch!). I guess he's afraid I'll do something inappropriate like try to kiss him or something. I do plan to make a trip to see him at some point during the year, probably the spring.

By Katwkittens (Katwkittens) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 04:05 pm: Edit

DS#1's school has something every weekend for the parents! No joke. Especially the football team stuff, they had a banquet last weekend, a bar-b-q next and for their first away game in IL (he's in MN) the parents all called each other to set up arrangements to all travel and stay in the same hotels. I sent him up on a plane (we live in NC) and have not seen him since (8/20). There was a big shindig for Orientation weekend (this past weekend) for all the parents, supposedly was a blast from all those that called me to ask me to please come visit!!

Made me feel like such a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad mama!! But with his 4 sibs at home, and I'm the only parent, the visit isn't going to happen for a while. Son's roomate parents have taken to him and they did stuff together and he did stuff with his coach and his family, so it all worked out. Son is totally fine with it, he says he knew it would be this way, if he wanted to see me all the time he would have gone to Duke or Carolina!

Doesn't make me feel any better though. He did say it would be neat if I went to a game, said he'll see what coach can do. I know I am much more homesick for him than he is for me. But that's my job, so pout I will!!!

If my son was only 4 hours away, ohhhhhhhhh I'd be there in a heartbeat!! But that's me, and that's probably why he went thousands of miles away!! He calls almost every day to check on things (oldest son), and yell at sibs for junk, but took care of his move-in, financial aid paperwork, football stuff, got a part-time research job on campus, got his books, and his room is immaculate according to his roomate's mom, ALL BY HIMSELF. I am sooooo not needed.

Heck if my son even hinted at missing me, I'd be running out the door, hair flying, kids yelling. But that's not happening so here I stay.

And that nasty Friday night football GAME DAY is rolling around again!!! UGH!! When I miss him even more!

Kat REALLY missing my one kitten

By Garland (Garland) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 04:10 pm: Edit

I think it's a parental judgment call, with kid approval, of course. I don't think, as some do, that there is a right or wrong answer. For some kids, it might, as has been suggested, mean that they will be less connected. For others, it might be the refueling that gets them over the hump. I think you should go with your instincts.

(OT: Kat, I love the image of your hulking(I imagine) football player son as a "kitten"!)

By Katwkittens (Katwkittens) on Wednesday, September 08, 2004 - 04:24 pm: Edit


You are so right! He is a hulking football player, offensive lineman. He wasn't "allowed" to loft his bed as his roomate did, too BIG! But to me, (all 5 feet of me), he seems as little as he always did. I know he's not, but........
DS#2 is also a hulking football player (a hs junior) and is trying real hard to fill big bro's cleats. He is more academic, even though big bro is a physics major on a full-ride (academic, turned down athletic), quieter, not as loud. DS#2 is more ambitious, less social, but more academic. Hope that makes sense.

But nobody sits in DS#1 spot at the dinner table every night, it just remains empty. DS#2 is actually contemplating Duke so I won't be so heart-broken when he leaves. (he had Duke ruled out for whatever reason!)You'd think with 4 more at home it wouldn't be like this, but we all miss him terribly. And the kids hate being apart.

Good luck to the original OP Kjofkw, go with your heart and ask your son. You'll be able to tell.


By Musicmom (Musicmom) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 03:26 am: Edit

It's a tough call.
Like Katwkittens (great name!), we miss our S #1 so much! In our case, he is only 75 min away but it might as well be 3000.

He is showing no signs of homesickness and would not like us to visit just because we can.
He is very social and enjoys telling us of his exploits: he and one new friend dropped by the campus radio station and demanded a one hour slot for their rock program; auditions for various music ensembles; a "group sleep" in the dorm common room to suck up some A/c.....

We're glad he's adjusting well,,,,,but, you know, we do miss him around here!
I did tell him to expect us on parents WE in Oct, though. Pick a restaurant and a few parentless friends to join us. He seems fine with that.

Ask your son and listen carefully. You'll know what to do!

P.S. Katwkittens-
I enjoyed your posts. It is so clear how close your kids are. I am a bit envious. Our two haven't really gotten past the "He's looking at me. Make him stop" juvenile relationship yet. Will they ever? Sigh.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 04:16 am: Edit

The thing is, a visit from Mom doesn't help a boy devise some socializing strategies. I talked to my S today and he mentioned he is playing pick-up basketball every day. He moaned about the distance to the gym and I, (Miss Why Don-cha), suggested he ride his bike.

Can't do that, he replied, all the guys walk down together.

Pick-up basketball became S's friend builder this past March in London after S decided to move to a dodgy neighborhood with 3 French women. Shortly after the move, he decided he needed a reason to stay out of the apartment. haha.

So he bought himself a basketball and went and stood at the edge of a city court until the mostly North African players invited him to play three on three. Because he had this brand spankin' new ball....After that, he stopped in every day for a few hours of 3 on 3.

He has also honed his pool skills and a number of his emails mention how he is going to go find a table and kick some '___'. Pool is a great friend building strategy for guys.

We asked my S if he is still meeting people and he said he is--because every day 'people' approach him and ask him if he was in such and such a class with them. Then they get to talking and then the 'people' volunteer to walk him to that class the next day.

H asked him, "Are these 'people' guys or girls?

Girls, he said. Ahhhh. The benefits of the 60-40 ratio. Girls volunteering to walk my 6'-2" boy to class.

Hoepfully, your S will devise some friend building strategies and start feeling connected K--but you do what you feel is right.

By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 08:11 am: Edit


I love your story. Girls as your S's body guards, or honor guard (sounds like a parade), LOL. But it looks like he is having a ball (bad pun!)Isn't it wonderful?

On another note, there's an article in the NYT Home section today about pre-college programs for future architects. Soozie may be interested in it, too, when she gets back from NYC.

By Kjofkw (Kjofkw) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 11:55 am: Edit

We've decided to go...but not quite yet. Since family weekend is not until November, we'll probably visit sometime late Sept./ early Oct. We mentioned to him that "mom" just can't wait until November. He just laughed and said that's fine...just no surprise visits.

Many mentioned that especially boys just don't share everything. You're correct, that he may be giving vague responses. However, he is (was) a VERY talkative child -- even as a teen. And we were not hearing much more than "ok I guess" to our questions of how things are going (in the dorm, in class, at social events, etc.)

He is (was?) also very social in high school(although he typically waits for others to approach him rather than taking the initiative).
From his descriptions, it appears that all the school social type functions have been HUGE affairs. He doesn't like those, so he doesn't go. He's at CMU. It is not a huge state school by any means, but even the events at parent's weekend made me feel like I was in a very large school, rather than a mid-sized one. His friends in high school were primarily girls, and unfortunately he is in CS (male dominated) at CMU (male dominated) in an all-male dorm (which he specifically did not want).

He was hoping the school activity fair would open up some opportunities, but because of the torrential rain, they moved in indoors, and he said it was such a zoo, he could not (or would not), visit the booths.

It is just sounding like such a tough start (socially). And I know it is just TOO easy for him to go back to the dorm room to AIM his former friends, rather than make the additional effort to get out.

Fortunately he seems to like his classes, but even those were a surprise. On our college visits, we were led to believe freshman classes were relatively small, although sophomore classes could get large before they became small again in Jr. & Sr. year. It turns out all if his classes (except 1) are about 100 students!!!!! Not exactly what I consider small!
He doesn't seem to mind -- but I'm sure it was a disappointment.

I think a lot has to do with "expectations". I don't think he is as homesick, as discouraged at this point. That's why I'm hoping our brief visit to "celebrate" the school with him, might get him over the hump.

We'll see.

By Mauretania (Mauretania) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 02:20 pm: Edit

I just read the NYT article titled "Before College, After Treehouses." Interesting! My daughter did a summer architecture course at the University of Texas - Austin between 10th and 11th grade.

I spoke to D last night and she made a point to say that she was grateful to have taken the various summer art/design programs as she feels completely prepared for her design classes. Specifically, the UT Arch course will help her in her 3-D Design, and she's already using what she learned at RISD/Emily Carr in her Drawing Fundamentals class (gesture drawing??). She sounded very excited:)

By Mauimom (Mauimom) on Thursday, September 09, 2004 - 05:55 pm: Edit

I didn't see within the prior posts one of the usual "gems:" kids call (or otherwise communicate) with the "down" news -- I'm having a tough time with my roommate; I don't think I can write this paper, etc. Then, after your appropriate listening and support (expressing confidence that they can do it)they work things out -- but they never call to TELL you about their success!!

So perhaps you can view whatever you are reading "between the lines" through this prism.

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