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verbsrule, Consultant
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 2833
Experience:  I have worked in education for over eight years, and I was employed as a retail manager for seven years.
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My son has failed his first year at exeter university doing

Customer Question

My son has failed his first year at exeter university doing maths with finance instead of economics with maths at bristol or bath as he did not reach the entry requirements. He has A in economics and french as well as B in maths and chemistry (1 point from an A). I am very concerned that even if he went to his second year he would not reach his full potential as he is not motivated and is in any case falling behind. He wanted to do combined honours in his second year ( with economics) but was turned down in view of his results ie 4 modules failed out of 8 . What is your advice ? Could he start again his first year and change his course ? My son is not very good at asking questions and exeter being a maze, he did not know who to turn to as it is a big factory. Also,he saw his tutor once and questions were
raised to which my son is still waiting for answers. My son did a resit for his A level in maths to change his grade from B to A (hopefully) What is your advice ? The education in France is completely different and I am at a loss. Many thanks
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  verbsrule replied 4 years ago.


Hi there,

I would be careful from here on in -- and would consult with your son at every opportunity.

My first instinct, and I think that you'll agree, is that this problem has nothing do with your son's potential ability, nor any lack of intelligence on his part. He sounds very bright.

You mentioned two things which struck my attention:

(1) He is not motivated.
(2) He is not good at asking questions.

Before I continue, let me say -- one of the predominate reasons that many fine, young students drop out of post secondary education is not lack of ability, intelligence, or rather aspiration, but simply because they have not yet decided why they are there. This is not a measure of parenting, education or ability by any means, but rather a product of a failed societal notion that the next logical step from high school is to attend higher education. This, we are learning, may be a failed notion.

I may suggest that you strongly consider asking a tough question -- is your son ready for Uni?

That's not to say that he's not "cut out" for University, but there are several factors necessary to be in place for a successful University experience, and you do very much want to ensure that those factors in place before making any further decisions.

For example, has your son decided on a career decision, and if when I ask that, please understand that I am referring to a subject matter that not only makes him curious, but more importantly, one that he digs into passionately. Truly, one attends higher education to study larger things, with an occupation being the natural following, yet, (1) this mindset is changing, and occupations are taking a precedence in choosing university and (2) Setting that occupation aside, whatever studies your son attends will only flourish if they captivate his attention.

Many parents (myself included) are fully aware of the advantages of higher education, and how fleeting life is. "If you don't go now, will you ever go -- will you lose the only chance you may have had?" is a constant and common wonder.

Yet, consider that more and more students are holding off on attending that expensive, yet most lucratrive opportunity that is higher learning. Some volunteer. Some enter the work force. Some travel. Some do all of that, while others spend their time reading.

The best result is that waiting pays off because we're right to worry -- few of us have the opportunity to attend the gift that is higher learning -- however, consider that most do only get one chance, and if that chance is taken before one is ready, then it is as lost as if it never happened. On the other hand, there are a growing number of students who have simply put the brakes on their academic pursuits, choosing instead to gather some life experience while seeking out their true passions.

When they return, confident that they are there for the right reasons, and fueled by the their newly found passion for whatever it is they've discovered that they absolutely must need to learn, then not only do they succeed, but they succeed "in spades".

It may be worth having a long, but likely, fruitful conversation with your son and maybe shifting course for a short time.


Gwyn -
Education/Research Expert JA

JACUSTOMER-150dps6d- : Unfortunately mywork does not accept chat rooms. I am usually back at 6 30 or my direct e mail during the day [email protected]
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for your reply. The problems with my son are his lack of maturity and concentration. He is indeed bright, a quick learner with a good memory but LAZY. He has never achieved his full potential trying to cut corners and is then disappointed with his results, for a short while. For ex, he reached 100 per cent in his As in chemistry and just believed that he could only study one part of his syllabus for his A2 and then failed to obtain an A by one point...
His father has decided that he should carry on his second year and just work harder and take a student loan to make him more responsible. Like you, i do not believe this is the answer. He is just going to fail and will loose another year. Without proper foundations, one cannot build. He likes maths but wanted a combination with economics. He tried to change at the beginning of the year to Economics but Exeter turned him down as he did not have 3 As. Then the combination honours maths + economics that he could have done in Y2 but in view of his results the Department said thanks but no thanks. Who can blame them ? The question now is what to do next. Unfortunately, as you are aware, competition is fierce even for good students. 40 per cent employees in London are foreigners. Work harder, speak languages and have more qualifications. I know it is tough on the younger generation but frankly there is no time to waste. My son is 20 in september and i think that he should either go through Ucas and then clearing, with hopefully an A in maths, and go to Leeds for instance where they do maths with economics or economics with Exeter if they accept him in other words retake a first year as he chose the wrong course or retake his first year in maths in exeter if his tutor accepts him and then change to a combined course in the 2nd year. However then if maths is not the right choice it is the same second time round. To be honest he is not interested in anything really apart from football and parties.... He wants to study economics but does not show a real interest .So, is it cut out for uni ? Probably not. There is no easy answer. You maybe right to say that he should delay his entry to uni and do something else but what ? He wanted to go to China last year to teach english to children but his father said that he would just loose a year. The irony is that he lost it in any case... And during this time i am worried and he has gone clubbing...
There is something wrong with both the education system and our society.
Many thanks for your time
Expert:  verbsrule replied 4 years ago.

Hi Isabelle,

I know you came here looking for an answer, and in my professional opinion, you are correct. The problem, it seems, is that you're really stuck, because doing the right thing is not easily available.

I can only tell you, and stand behind you to stick behind your instincts. Feel free to copy and paste this if you need to - an answer from someone with ten years, not only educating, but also researching education.

Sending your son to University now is an absolutelty BAD idea. Saddling him with a student loan to reinforce that bad idea is bordering on lunacy, sheer lunacy with a side order of Dad's ego.

The idea of setting your son up to fail, with the inevitable burden of debt to follow is completely insane. Why? It seems to be, with all due respect, to be forethought with some kind of bootcamp (I may be wrong) notion of, "Well, you're going to do this, and you're going to succeed and that's absolutely the end of it."

Wow. So, who wins? Well, when your son fails, whose fault is it? Oh, it's his, right? Nope. The way I see, from the viewpoint of the mediator that you're looking for, is if your son fails at something everybody (but Dad) knows he is simply not ready for and/or just doesn't want to do, then it sounds like Dad failed. Dad failed to listen. Dad was so stuck in his preconceived notion that he enabled his son to fail.

Dad should take his pride out of the conversation and join it. And that conversation should be..."'re not ready for University, and we're not going to force you into further failure. BUT that doesn't mean you're going down a path of productivity. Who do we see next? Is it a career counsellor? Is it a counsellor? If this is the wrong path for you, because we WANT YOU TO SUCCEED, then we'll help you find a path. You're not ready for this one...but that doesn't mean, there is none..."

The course your son should be taking towards Uni is not yet on the horizon., Pushing him down a blind path he doesn't yet want to follow does no one any favours.

Do all you can to follow your instincts and have that discussion your son deserves to have.

Let me know how it pans out.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Before writing to you, i contacted a life coach who was dealing with youngsters between 20 and 30 years old. I explained to my son that we thought he needed help (disorganised, lack of concentration and motivation, losing things all the time, etc) and being his parents,we were biased and consequently it would be better if he would talk to an outsider. He agreed to see her and went once. Then i asked him if he had been in contact and his reply was that she was too expensive. Had he been interested, it would have been an opportunity to discuss with her prices as well as his current and future life. Unfortunately, he just dropped it like everything else. The thing is that if he does not see any problem with his life and the wish to improve does not come from him, i cannot help. It is like a drug addict, unless he has the will to get out of his addiction, nobody can do it for him. You can talk, cajole, see doctors, go to rehabilitation and just die from it... When he was younger, the fact that he was losing items on a regular basis plus lack of concentration and being a follower ie mixing with 'losers', we thought it was dyslexia. We consequently consulted a specalist who d id some tests but found nothing. In fact, we were very much under the impression that he thought that we were these crazy middle class parents who see problems when they are inexistant. What he may not have realised is the fact that my son being clever, he could perfectly have answered what he wanted to hear or the tests were basic or may be there was nothing or again there was something but not dyslexia. We will never know.
I have now tried to talk to my son again without great success. He wants to go back to uni in September but not Exeter. He has not contacted them to let them know that he was not going back as if everything was going to be in order without any intervention on his part. It is not by ignoring the problem that it will go away . Certainly, he does not want to be thrown out of uni but he should explain to them that their maths course is not for him. Are they supposed to guess ? Also, instead of contacting people, he sends e mails ?? He has therefore forwarded an e mail to Bristol for Economics (complete waste of time in my opinion in view of their notoriety) and Leeds for Economics and Finance. A bit late when he had the whole month of June to enquire and react.. Apparently he can reapply though Ucas for clearing. I have frankly no idea.. When i speak to him about more clarifications, the answer is that he repeats himself and basically i annoy him by 'going in circles'.
So what s next ? I believe that for once i shall not get involved trying to sort him out and i told him so. I explained the options as desribed before to you plus introduced the idea of taking a year off (another lady who is in education and knows my son gave me the same advice), so it is up to him don t you think ?
By the way, in my opinion English universities are overpriced for what they offer. 12 hours of course per week which are rather discussions than courses. You never see your tutor who does not even reply to your e mails, poor lecturers, tests in economics were multiple choices online....Then no tuition at all on the third term. What do students pay gbp 9000 per year for ? (+clubs+accommodation+food,etc ). For the retakes, they have the
audacity of asking for a further Gbp 600.00... This is not further education but a very profitable business.
Best regards
Isabelle :)