A Nightmarish Experience at an Ohio University

I wanted to share with you today a comment that I received yesterday from a California mom, who shared the heart-wrenching experience of her bright daughter, who started college in Ohio. She was prompted to write after reading my college blog posts about students who desire to attend schools far from their homes. Here are two of them:

 Snobs, Pushy Relatives and Misinformed Parents

California Teen Gets Grief For Liking Southern Universities

Please read the mom’s story and after reading it, I’d be curious what you think. What advice could you give to students so they don’t encounter the same problems? Or what could students do when they encounter this kind of all-to-common behavior at college?  Just let me know what you think by filling out the comment box at the bottom of this post. I’ll share my thoughts tomorrow.  Thanks. Lynn O’Shaughnessy

One Mom’s Story

I want to share my daughters experience about leaving California and attending a well-know university in Dayton, Ohio. A year and a half ago my daughter graduated in the top 5% of her class, from a prestigious high school in a small town in California. She was able to get into every school in California that she applied too! She chose to attend the University of Dayton, Ohio. She picked this school because she wanted to go to a well attended university outside of California.

Nightmare Roommates

She didn’t know a soul in Ohio! She was placed in a quad room( 4 people) in freshmen dorms. She had done all she could to prepare her self for her new roommates. They talked on the phone, corresponded through Facebook, etc., but  nothing could have prepared her for the experience that was to follow. The first week, they had boys staying the night, partying all night long, blaring the TV and music. The final straw was a boy urinating on my daughters bed! The roommates stated wasn’t their problem!

We were able to get an emergency move after much threatening and many, many phone calls. A complete stranger that was an employee at the school finally took pity on my daughter and her inability to get help from the staff and she was able to facilate a move.

Emails phone calls to faculty and even the university president were never answered or returned!! This is a school, where the president addressing us parents and incoming freshmen, promised they would be “home away from home.” They would be there for our children!

Too Traumatized To Return

My daughter ended up going through 3 different sets of roommates in her freshmen year. It was so terrible that she begged to not go back, to her dream university! She gave up her scholarship and is now attending our local junior college and preparing to transfer next year, to a California school.

I share her story only to show there is another side to leaving California schools. I realize that my daughter’s experience was exceptionally bad and only heightened by the lack of communication, compassion, and help provided to us by the University of Dayton. It pains you greatly to hear your child cry everyday for over 9 months. To know that no one is able to help her! I can’t begin to describe the torture it was for our whole family.

When my daughter finally returned home to California, she was humiliated because she had a 4.5 GPA leaving high school and now her only option was to attend a junior college to get enough units to transfer.

I told my daughter, she should not feel bad for having followed her dream. At least she tried it!

What Do You Think?

Now that you’ve heard the mom’s story, what do you think?

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25 Responses to A Nightmarish Experience at an Ohio University

  1. Meredith January 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    This story breaks my heart and I feel terrible for the letter writer’s daughter. However, I don’t think this unfortunate experience has anything to do with the student choosing to go to college out of state. She could have easily gone through the same thing at a school in California, (or Virginia or Texas or wherever else she could have been from). Sometimes your roommates will be jerks. Sometimes the college isn’t what you think it wil be. I would like to know more about the decision making process and how this student chose University of Dayton. Did she visit overnight? And I don’t wish to sound harsh, but, three sets of roommates in two semesters? Without having any other information, it sounds like there was at least some compassion from Dayton in trying to find her a better living situation.

    • Lynn O'Shaughnessy January 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      Meredith — Those are all good points you made. You are right that the same thing could have happened if the teenager had attended a school in her same state. It’s also an interesting point you made about three sets of roommates.

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  2. libra99 January 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

    Hmmm this sounds strange to me. No offense to U of Dayton students/grads, but it’s not that great of a school. It’s ranked 101 by US News, which isn’t bad or anything, but if this girl was so smart and did so well in high school, why not attend an Ivy or Silver league school? Why U of Dayton? Did they rank well for her particular major?

    I was fortunate in college to have decent roommates but I know several people, including my own brother, who weren’t. However, they didn’t leave college because of it. I understand having one set of nightmare roommates, but I find it hard to believe she couldn’t get along with three different sets of roommates in one year. That tells me there was a problem on her end as well. Was there any way mom could have gotten her a single dorm room or even a studio apartment?

    Colleges are businesses. Of coures they are going to tell you this is their “home away from home.” You can’t buy their rhetoric. The only one that you can trust to look after a college student is the student.

    Finally, I think this mom and daughter need to adjust their attitudes toward community colleges. I winced when I read the daughter was “humiliated” to attend a community college. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking classes at a community/junior college!! I know several intelligent people who went to community colleges. Attending community college is a great way to save money. Students can also use the time they are in the community college to think about what major they want to pursue before wasting time and lots of money at a regular 4-year university.

    It sounds like there is more to this story than just bad roommates. Perhaps something else happened, or the daughter just didn’t like U of Dayton. This just sounds fishy to me.

  3. Denise January 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    I thought that when students sign up for college housing, they note preferences for the type of roommate they want, for example: very quiet, studious, likes loud music, very social, mostly party outside the dorm, early to bed, up late, and so on.

    It seems there must be some effort at making good housing matches to keep most students comfortable, or is this not a common practice? As the mother of a junior in high school, I know he would be miserable with a loud, partying roommate. I assumed he’d be matched with someone who has similar preferences.

    I agree that this has nothing to do with being out-of-state, but I wonder if they have a housing preferences questionnaire and whether that failed.

  4. Susan January 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    We were just having this conversation in our house last night with our teens in preparation for the oldest leaving (they haven’t even shared a bedroom for 10 years, so I think it’s going to be a culture shock).

    Tough experience and I hesitate to say that the daughter could have done anything differently. I do agree the same thing could have happened anywhere. It sounds like the emotional blow for both daughter and parents may have been the extreme obnoxiousness of the first set of roommates and then the school’s failure to help quickly. Once you’ve lost faith in the system it’s hard to handle any other emotional upheavals.

    Once parents get involved, and I know they might have to sometimes, then I think some teens might feel they can’t handle it (or anything?) on their own. Once the parent is stressed and unhappy on their teen’s behalf, then I think the teen might think the situation or school is unfixable and they HAVE to come home.

    “Sounds like you are at the end of your rope, do you think I can take any action that would help?” has been a good approach for us with high school. We’ve had one time where we got a “yes, I am too angry to handle dealing with the school”, and on all other occasions our help has been declined, with a certain amount of horror expressed at the very thought of our involvement.

    • Lynn O'Shaughnessy January 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

      I love your observations Susan. I’m all for empowering teenagers to make their own decisions. Sometimes it won’t work, but most times I think it does.

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  5. Kate January 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    I feel very sorry for this student and her family. Given the common morals of today’s society I am not surprised that this happened. I worry about something like this happening with our child. So far they want to attend a school close to home. If they abhor dorm life they could move home and commute. Not that I recommend staying that close to home but if the school is a fit (child is a junior so it’s not crunch time yet) I won’t fight it.

    Looking at the stats for the school (SAT scores at College Results Online and in the Common Data Set) it doesn’t look like Dayton was a good choice for such a scholarly student. Maybe Dayton is more of a party school than she expected.

  6. Keith January 18, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    1972 freshman.I am sure we all have roommate stories so i won’t share many of mine while I was attending a school 100 miles from home. I have taught some freshman orientation classes and hear about the bad roommates. Minnesota/ Kentucky. There are even some bad college students in Ohio. My sons who are in college have some similar stories to mine but not the one about the life sized crucifix on the wall or the pound of marijuana left in my drawer. Well a school can not be categorized by some bad seeds but only how it handles the situation.

    • Lynn O'Shaughnessy January 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

      Wow Keith. It sounds like you have some great roommate stories. Good for a laugh now, but probably not back then.

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  7. Paula January 19, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    I have 4 children who have attended different private colleges. During orientation at EVERY one, students rooming together were encouraged to talk to each other ASAP about what they wanted the room rules to be and then to draw up a contract which both signed. This could involve things like quiet hours, guests, sleepovers, drugs/alcohol, cleaning, etc. There was one instance – basically a bad match – that resulted in a roommate switch part way through the year. It was a mutual decision; my son did the moving and ended up with a much nicer room and a much more compatible roommate. No parents were involved; the students talked to housing and arranged everything. I think the lesson earned is to TALK first before incidents happen. In the case you mentioned I think that hundreds of school names could be inserted into the narrative; this kind of “problem” is not unique to U of Dayton by any means.

  8. Claire January 19, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    I feel for the mother-daughter in this story.
    It feels as if there are missing details. Bad roommates seem to be a right of passage for a lot of students. I also agree that bad roomies can happen instate, out of state, in college, post college. My daughter had a bad roomie situation. She handled it via the RA and the school process…..and told me afterwards.

  9. Peggy January 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I spent 25 years working as a student affairs administrator at six different colleges, and was the director of residential life at two. I did my master’s thesis on college roommate compatibility. Sadly, this is an issue that is rampant at colleges across the country, and across the different strata of colleges–elite to open admission. My daughter experienced similar at a small Roman Catholic college. Without writing a thesis here (which I could), I believe this stems from a convergence of two trends: First, students go off to college having had unprecedented luxuries growing up. They have never shared a bedroom. Many have never even shared a bathroom. They have their own cars, their own phones, their own credit cards, and have been given a great deal of personal freedom while still in high school. Their parents have leveraged their own lives to provide the financial support such that students have little concern for the price of attending college. Transitioning to a largely unsupervised residence hall just kick starts their desire to live a life like they have seen on MTV and in the popular media. And although their college may have asked them questions about their lifestyles to encourage roommate compatibility, too often, their parents filled out the questionnaire, or the student was afraid to be honest (“I smoke weed, I drink four nights a week, and my partner and I have been intimate since we were 15″) for fear their parents will see the questionnaire.

    Secondly, colleges, in their quest to recruit students, provide accommodations and amenities that are more like cruise ships. Free high speed internet, free laundry equipment, 24-hour a day food service catered to each student’s whim, free health club, free 24-hour a day medical care, free counseling services, free tutoring, non-stop activities, parties, movies, clubs. They have private rooms in suites with living rooms and kitchenettes and free cable TV. Additionally, legal restraints and a fear of losing enrollment have made colleges unwilling to impose strict discipline or oversight. Many parents don’t make it any easier by refusing to allow students to take responsibility for their behavior, calling constantly to intervene or plead for special consideration. I was even offered bribes to “overlook” issues, but more often I was threatened with lawyers.
    What will it take to change this? A fundamental shift in how we view college from a time of extended adolescence to a time for learning real-life skills for careers and adulthood. Instead, they graduate, deeply in debt, and wondering why they can’t find a job that will pay enough for them to be able to afford a private apartment, internet, health club, vacations, health insurance, and a housekeeping staff to clean up with vomit in the bathroom every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

    • Dallas Beardsley February 7, 2013 at 2:52 am #

      Ma’am, I’m sorry to say, but you obviously are not a student nor ever have been at UD. Let me clear a few things up for you:
      1) The internet here? Our tuition pays for. Doubt me? Where do you think the IT department gets it’s funding?
      2) The laundry is really freaking expensive. Yes, I have used laundromats outside of the university, and yes I do my own laundry. It costs 2.50 just to do one load of laundry. One load that is about half the size of a regular washer and dryer.
      3) The food. While I admit it is good, it is no where near 24 hour catering. We take what they offer, when they offer it.
      4) The health club, or RecPlex as we call it here, is free. Except for the classes. Like any gym, you have to pay to attend those. Our tuition covers our use of the RecPlex.
      5) Free 24 hour medical care? Yeah, that’s called the Miami Health Center Hospital about five minutes down the road. Students go there more often than the Health Center on campus.
      6) Counseling. You really think that students should pay for counseling? College now a days is stressful enough! A student should be able to have someone to talk to without having to worry about doing it at the expense of something else. Same thing goes for the tutoring. One of the great things about UD is that they will go way out of their way to help someone succeed academically.
      7) Dorms. I don’t know what dorms you have seen, but they only way that someone has their own living room and kitchenette is if they got very lucky in the housing lottery and that’s just the upperclassmen. All freshman live in dorms with one other person. If you’re lucky, you get a mini-fridge and microwave. Or a sink. Not both. Sometimes you’re lucky to get a hot shower. Most nights, I’m lucky if I don’t get a window broken.
      8) Cars. No freshman at UD, unless they are a commuter, is allowed to have a car on campus, no exceptions. If we want to go anywhere, we walk. If it’s really far away, we take the bus or have an upperclassman drive us.

      Also, don’t classify us all under the umbrella of our parents paying our way, showering us with awesome things. Me? I’m paying my own way. The only reason I’m at UD at all is because of my scholarship. Yeah, people party. Some more than they probably should. But honestly, can you say that you didn’t party?

      Don’t lump UD with any other college or university in the world because honestly, there is nothing like UD. I fell in love with this place and so have many many others. You might claim the fact that this is my school that I won’t debate without bias. But I know UD has issues and problems. I will be one of the first people to say that. But no matter what, UD is one of the most unique places I know and you have to be a certain kind of person to thrive here.

      My one question that I pose is this: Did this student in the story, or any other student surveyed, come to their chosen college/university expecting to be best friends with their roommate? I sure didn’t! I knew I would be lucky if my roommate and I just tolerated each other, which we did, until she chose to move down the hall with a girl she is better friends with. And UD doesn’t put freshmen into quad rooms. At all. There’s only one residence hall where you might fit a quad, but yeah, that doesn’t happen.

      I would love to read your thesis. It would be interesting to compare your data and hypotheses to what actually happens from a student’s point of view.

      By the way, the parties here are pretty wild. But Campus Security is pretty awesome at making sure that anything too wild doesn’t happen.

      I’m not sure there’s much more I could say without repeating myself or confusing those who are unfamiliar with UD’s policies. Any questions, please feel free to ask!

      Sincerely, a UD freshman who isn’t just about the partying and booze. She likes the teachers, her classes, the bands and ensembles she’s in, the friends she’s made, and the memories that will last her a lifetime.

  10. Janice January 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    My son is attending a private school out of state (from west coast to east coast) and for his first year lived in a quad and no issues. It was a smaller private school and the school had “him” fill out a lengthy questionaire about himself inorder to better place him with roommates. I specifically did not help him fill it out or give imput because he was the one who had to live with them. For his sophmore year he is still roommates with one and all elected to live on the same dorm floor this year with the others. He did have an overnight visit. I would encourage anyone with concerns to find out more about how roommates are selected prior to accepting if they think roommates might be an issue.

  11. Janet January 19, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    I took a quick visit to collegeprowler.com and read the first three pages of reviews. Lots of touting the pretty girls, great parties, and even one that says “For the most part the police force and administration are very lenient with alcohol use.” Sounds like she picked a party school. Did she know that before she left home?

    • Lynn O'Shaughnessy January 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

      Love your detective work Janet! I never thought to look at CollegeProwler.com.

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  12. Jane Kulow January 20, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Thank you, Lynn, for this post, and thank you to all for the wealth of information in the comments. I’ve stopped sending a lot of articles to our HS senior son, now that he’s made it through the application season, but I’m sending him this one along with the request that he read through all of the comments.

  13. celeste January 20, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    While there are negative reviews galore on the web about different colleges, this one will get a lot of attention, and in some sense, an endorsement as it appears in your highly regarded blog. Have you considered offering the university a chance to respond? This situation sounds terrible. It’s also possible that others in the situation, including university administrators, would have a different view as is often the case in emotional conflicts. I find the fact that the student went through THREE sets of roommates to be troublesome. All sets were unsuitable? That seems less likely than having one bad experience. Also it’s not a California vs. not-California question, and the very positioning of it that way does make me question the family’s critical thinking skills and judgement overall, and therefore if they were unskilled in solving the situations they were faced with. Moreover, the student did not have to go to a junior college, and she does not have to attend a Calif. university. There are many more wise choices besides U of Dayton vs. junior college and California universities. Again, that behavior makes me question their judgement overall.

  14. Emily January 20, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    Kids can fill out all the questionnaires in the world and they will still have to face the fact that they are leaving home and living with a stranger, and will have to make accommodations with each other along the way. in other words, they do have to grow up. My daughter was an RA during her college years and found that solutions were more creative and lasting if the students solved them together, as opposed to the solutions when parents became involved. I wonder what the res life staff and the many roommates would say if they were given a chance to tell their side of the story?

    Unfortunately, the girl in your story had not learned much about how to advocate for herself before she left home. Luckily, there is still time for her to learn how to navigate her world whether it contains adversity or comfort, and because we hope she will have a long life ahead, she will surely experience both.

  15. Julie Q June 13, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    I feel for this child and parents. I can feel their pain because I, myself, went through this 25 years ago at Marquette University. I went through 3 different roommates Freshman year (And I’m telling you, it wasn’t me!) One had boys overnight in my bed when I went home for the weekend. One would socialize all night and put all the lights on at midnight and start studying when I was going to bed. The third one was doing drugs in the room. And guess what?? NOT one of these 3 girls graduated! Every single one of them ended up dropping out for various reasons. I stuck it out and made it through freshman year and graduated 4 years later. It is very hard finding someone compatible to live with,especially when you grow up having your own bedroom. I think that this can happen to ANYONE at ANY school. I worry about it happening to my daughter. These kids today take everything for granted. My daughter is going to be in for a rude-awakening when she hits dorm life. My advice to any freshman…Stick it out! Get through that first year and usually it gets a little easier. If your roommate doesn’t work out, hopefully, you’ve established some good friendships and can find a more compatible roommate for sophomore year!

  16. Alexandra October 19, 2012 at 2:41 am #

    I stumbled upon this website in looking for University of Dayton t-shirts for my children and felt compelled to respond. My husband and I are both alumni of the University of Dayton, as our several of our siblings and parents. If that sounds like a lot of immediate family members attending the same school, you’re right, and there is a reason for it. The University of Dayton has a soul that is unmatched by any university I ever visited. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, many years ago, I was stuck by how so many students I passed smiled and offered a casual greeting. The student body was so warm and welcoming; at night you could go in the student neighborhood “ghetto” and be welcome at almost any gathering. Everyone seemed to be friends with everyone! It was utopic and magical. Is it a party school? In ways it is; we did a lot of partying, and UD seemed to attract a lot of extroverted social types. But it was far from a mandate to be social, there were plenty of “campus ministry” types and we coexisted happily, because that was the nature of the University, live and let live. It was also a work hard, play hard situation. UD was challenging academically, it is one of the top 10 Catholic universities in the nation and a solid school on any measure. There was no cream puff curriculum while students drank away four years of their parent’s money (or in my case, loans). Yes, we had fun, a LOT of LOT of fun, but my husband and I are now very successful and we owe a lot of that to our education from UD. Our college friends are business presidents, entrepreneurs, lawyers, engineers…all sorts of things; very accomplished. I don’t even know anyone who didn’t do well professionally after UD. I categorically refute the statements that the University of Dayton is “just a party school”.

    Re: the issue of roommate compatibility has nothing whatsoever to do with going out of state.

    When I went to college, we didn’t have a science of roommates or facebook. There were a few questions, and that was it. You were encouraged NOT to room with a home town friend. Most students were not from Dayton OH so almost everyone is from another state, but you would frequently see ties to UD with a very strong alumni bloodline- it’s a secret we pass down to our children- there is a place where you can escape the world for four years, meet the best friends you are likely to ever have, and have experiences you will still be savoring 20 or 30 years later. You will get an education that will prepare you well for life, but you will never forget this place, this time. THAT is UD. Anyway, I didn’t like my roommate; I had nothing in common with her. I was disappointed that I didn’t have a better pick but I got over it and learned to negotiate and deal with it. In those days they didn’t move you for personality faults. I’ve never heard of someone moving three times. I took advanced statistics; that is a red flag that the problem is not with the roommates.

    Learning to deal with a roommate you arent in love with, is the first step in reality of dealing with bosses and coworkers and a host of other people you will meet in life that you arent in love with. Life is not scripted, its reality- a concept kids these days should be familar with. This daughters experience sounds over the top though the “roommate with a boyfriend” scenario is as old as time and is not unique to a college or geography. I’m sorry if your daughter had a bad year and possibly a bad fit, but I’ve got to come to the defense of a University that may not be well known, but is beloved by those that do.

  17. GiGi December 19, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    I also found this post by random chance. It seems like you’re posting about a recent experience at UD- where I am a current senior and am in my 3rd year of being a Resident Assistant. I’m confused because UD does not provide quad rooms to first year students. The only available place for quads would be Marianist, and only sophomores can live in the quads wing. I know this because I am one of the four current ra’s in the quad wing.

    I also need to come to defense of this University. I have met my best friends and the love of my life here (we’ll be married in fall 2014), and while I have had such a great experience I know many people who have transferred away for various reasons. Some find it difficult to make friends, some lose their huge scholarship and can’t afford it anymore, some find the partying too much, and many find the classes much more difficult than they anticipated. So many people see UD as just a party school, but I agree with the poster above- there’s both a ‘live and let live’ philosophy and a “work hard play hard” philosophy. Some people find it difficult to mesh these into their lives.

    BTW, the type of roommates you describe your daughter as having sound absolutely horrific. I’ve had to mediate roommate disputes in the past and I’ve never encountered such actions- usually it’s more like “my roommate is loud in the morning” or “my roommate eats my food and doesn’t ask”.

  18. Ryan March 31, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Look I go to UD. I transferred rooms my freshman year it’s extremely easy. All you have to do is ask around and if someone is willing to switch, which there is always someone, then you go to the campus housing and it’s a little paper work. So obviously she wasn’t trying it’s more her parents. Second it’s an awesome academic school and party school really you have the ability to pick what you do. Go to the library or any campus building to study or go out with friends you can do whatever you want. As for having multiple roommate problems you and your roommate have a written agreement at the beginning of the year that your RA oversees and should help to enforce so it can never get to bad. In all to have problems as bad as it makes it sound you would have to let everyone push you around and not seek any help other than from your parents. Which is what it sounds like happened in this case.

    • Joanne August 28, 2014 at 4:22 am #

      Ryan….need some advice about switching. How hard is it to switch buildings. I’m in Stuart and really am having hard time with the location. Any suggestions on how to get closer to campus?

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  1. People From Cali Can’t Handle Dayton « The College Boy Column - January 29, 2013

    [...] but not really. The excerpt is from the Cali Broad’s Mom, and the entire story is entitled, A Nightmarish Experience at an Ohio University, and can be read in its entirity after clicking the link. Check this [...]

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