failure to launch and college students

Failure to Launch Common in College Students

Failure to launch can happen to college students too! Typically, the image that comes to mind when thinking of failure to launch is someone who spends most of their day playing video games in their parents’ basement. However, failure to launch is pretty common among college students who are experiencing stress burnout or who have lost interest in activities they used to enjoy. Even if on the surface, they may seem to be living independently and working hard, their self-esteem and motivation may be suffering.  

Common Causes of Failure to Launch in College

While failure to launch is often used to describe the transition immediately after high school, it can occur after any major transition in one’s life. Sometimes, failure to launch is subjective based on personal expectations and can be a gradual realization that one is not where they thought they would be. For these students, it may be harder for them to identify red flags or to feel comfortable reaching out to others for help.

Signs of failure to launch in college students may include:

  • Not knowing what to do with unstructured time
  • Lack of meaningful relationships
  • Poor self-care habits, including changes in sleep schedule or appetite
  • Limited motivation and purpose in life
  • Problems finding and maintaining employment

Personal Goal Setting Comes Before Career Counseling 

Young adults often think that the solution for launching into independence is career-driven but struggle to explore why they are drawn to the roles they want to enter or what they might find fulfilling about it. Instead of asking young adults what they want their major to be, we should shift our focus towards asking them what problems they would like to solve–both in their personal lives and in the community. 

Our career counseling is individualized to help girls and assigned female at birth discover their purpose. If they aren’t sure what makes them happy or how to handle their emotions when they’re overwhelmed, they may be setting themselves up for continued difficulties with failure to launch.

While other programs focus on adventure activities, we consider recreation to be anything girls and assigned female at birth pursue in their free time–from physical activity to creative expression or even community service. We talk about recreation as anything that helps them life a whole-hearted life.  Our initial recreation assessment asks girls and assigned female at birth to consider what they believe are their core values and values that they want to work on before asking them to brainstorm possible activities that may help them find a sense of purpose consistent with these values.

Self-Monitoring Goals

As every student’s future goals are unique, we believe that our therapeutic approach should be too. Our goal is to help students learn to identify their goals, monitor their progress, and advocate for what they need to support them in reaching their goals. 

One template that we offer for students is a recreation log that helps them stay organized and reflect on their goals. This structured activity is a useful practice in being objective about their progress rather than making self-deprecating judgments.

  • Describing the activity
  • Reflecting on what was on their mind during the activity
  • Noticing any sensations that came up in their body
  • Naming their mood before and after the activity 
  • Acknowledging whether it was a solo activity, something with friends, or at a community event

Journey Home Young Adult Can Help 

Journey Home Young Adult is a transitional living program for teens ages 18-23. This program addresses emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders that teens may face. Common presenting problems include depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, body image issues, ADHD and other learning issues, academic struggles, and low self-esteem. Journey Home creates an environment conducive to healing where teens can learn healthy coping skills while becoming more well-equipped to launch into adulthood. Students leave this program feeling empowered, happy, and healthy.

To learn more about failure to launch in college students, contact us at 801-444-0794. We can help your family today!


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