Dear Barb—The Usual Meaning of Distance Learning

Dear Barb:

My son has just moved away to university.  He is a six-hour drive from home, so it’s not that easy to hop in the car and visit.  He’s always been a good kid and did well in school and never caused his father and me any problems.  However, I noticed a change in him within the weeks before moving away.  He seemed anxious and somewhat withdrawn.  When I asked him if there was anything wrong, he said no.  He has always been a homebody and we are not a family that has travelled a lot, so I’m wondering if he is fearful of such a big change in his life.  Are there things I should be watching for in my son that would indicate there is something more serious going on, or should I assume this is just normal behaviour for someone going away to school? Looking forward to your response, Dana. 

Hi Dana:

Congrats! As a parent you must feel proud that your son is continuing his education, as so many young people begin work and get used to having money and lose sight of long-term goals so never return to school.  Your son is experiencing many changes, and most are new and unfamiliar.  I wouldn’t be too concerned about the change in him prior to moving away.  It’s a big step and the first year will be difficult, but as long as he has a good base he will be able to get through it just fine.

I have included some of the most common problems students face during their first year as posted on  First is time management – students need to know their own limitations.  They may mess up initially and need to adjust their course load to accommodate.  Learning to manage their own finances is another major hurdle for students.  Often when they get their student loans or grants, they don’t think ahead and realize this money has to last through the whole semester and they often ask mom or dad for help when the money runs out.  As mentioned on the website, a visit with a financial advisor may be able to offer some initial guidance as far as budgeting or managing debt.  A part time job will help, but students have to make sure their schooling is their priority, so it is necessary to limit their hours at work.  Homesickness is one of the top ten problems first year students face.  Many universities and colleges offer support groups to help students get through the rough spots.  Another issue is making new friends.  Many students move on to university along with their high school friends, but others are going alone and may find it difficult to make new friends.  Making connections by joining social groups or clubs on campus can be beneficial.  Some other problems that are addressed in this article are partying, relationships and health.  My suggestion is to send the link to your son as I am sure he will find it helpful.  Thank you for your email.

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