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How to know if your child should switch unis

So, your child has made the all-important decision of where to pursue their tertiary studies… but as quickly as it came together, as a parent you can sense it might be falling apart. First things first, don’t stress – it’s easier than ever to make the switch and start at a new university with very few, if any, consequences for your child.  

There are a number of reasons your child may lean towards switching, whether they’ve self-identified this desire already or it’s something they’re still trying to figure out. Just like in life, not everything works out the first time – it’s better they take the time to consider a better fit rather than persisting at something that’s making them downright miserable.  

If your child is going through any of the below, there’s reason enough to consider switching universities.  

They seem disengaged with their studies 

University is meant to be an enriching experience: socially, developmentally, but in particular, intellectually. If they’re not enjoying their studies or seem to have switched off, this could be a solid reason to make a change. Some students work tirelessly throughout high school to procure amazing grades, only to enter their university degree of choice and realise it’s not for them. If this is the case, they may be feeling the pressure to live up to the expectations they’ve set for themselves or to stick it out in case things get better.  

Instead of the stress and mental toll this can take, encourage them to consider their options. Maybe their degree could be delivered in a way that suits their learning style better at a different uni. Seek out options and speak to people from different institutions to see whether there’s a better fit for them out there.  

They’re unwilling to get involved with the uni community 

The social side of university has been chronicled and sensationalised on screen for decades – it’s heralded as this transformative time in a young person’s life where they’ll meet new people, learn who they are and begin building their independence. While all those things can be true, it’s harder for some than others to make friends and feel at ease within their new community. If they’re feeling disconnected, isolated, or out of sorts in general, it might be worth evaluating whether moving to another university could help. Perhaps that uni is closer to home, or has a smaller, more tight-knit student community.  

Homesickness or FOMO are taking over their lives 

We urge our children to make their own decisions and be their own people, but sometimes, other people have to be factored into the equation. If your child is feeling the strain of being out on their own, away from family and friends, make sure they know there’s no shame in coming home. Living apart from your loved ones isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay! Although we treat feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) and homesickness as temporary, this isn’t always the case, and could be reason enough for your child to reconsider their choice of university. 

Their mental and/or physical health is suffering  

Uni can be a shock to the system – in many cases, you’re away from your support system, are struggling with the demands of adult life and on top of all that, are expected to pour everything into your studies. If this is resulting in mental health struggles for your child, or affecting their physical health, it’s time to think about an alternative. There’s absolutely no need in suffering through something that’s slowly destroying their health – in the words of Jim Rohn, ‘if you do not like where you are, move. You are not a tree.’  

They’re considering dropping out 

Finally, if things are feeling pretty dire and your child is toying with the idea of dropping out, consider another university. They may not be able to communicate or even pinpoint what exactly is wrong, but they just know that something feels off – sometimes things just don’t work out the way we expect them to. However, the situation may be salvageable by a change of scenery. If they know what they don’t like about their current uni experience, seek something different out and see whether this suits them better.  

Although changing universities might feel overwhelming or exhausting, it’s in your child’s best interests when they’re not enjoying their university experience. Encourage them to trust themselves and make the right decision for their wellbeing, even if that means starting over. 

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