Tag Archives: college

7 Signs That We’re Ready For Her To Leave (For College)

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Everyone warned us our teenager would push our buttons in the weeks leading up to her departure for college. We have had our share of friction.  What 18 year-old wants to be told she should spend more time with her family?  Or that she really needs to clean up the pigsty she calls her bedroom?  Or that it makes me nervous that she’s heading into the city by train late at night (even if she’s with her boyfriend)?

The truth is, it’s hard for parents like me to completely relinquish control, even though I know I will have to, four days from now.  But as much as I know we will all miss her when she’s gone (and she certainly will miss us), I’ve stumbled upon some clear signs that the time really has come to say buh-bye to our firstborn child.

1.  The obstacle course in her bedroom is making its way into other rooms.  

 

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                                                    (Some semblance of order needs to be restored – soon).

 

2.   We rarely see her for dinner anymore.  Instead, we see lots of these:

 

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                                               Money for eating out and take-out has to be running low by now.

 

3.  Clothing that she probably forgot she had is suddenly in the laundry.   

Apparently her roommate is more deserving of seeing these clothes on her and seeing them freshly laundered.

 

4.  She’s restless.

I’m willing to bet August 31st is one of the last college move-in dates in New England.   Most kids have left for college by now.  Most local kids have gone back to school,too.  Summer’s winding down.  Even watching reruns of Friends and One Tree Hill is getting old. 

 

5.   Everything is suddenly a last.   And every last comes with an emotional parting.

…. the last time she’ll see Grammy/Papa/Auntie/her cousins/this friend/that friend/co-workers/her boyfriend’s family/her boyfriend’s dog/this beach/this coffee shop… despite the fact that her college is only a 2-hour drive from home.

 

6.  Her little sister has set a deadline, for any clothes that have been borrowed from her to be returned.

The battle between sisters who wear the same size clothing is fierce and seemingly endless in our house,  even though we all know they love — and will miss  — each other.

 

But there is one sign-that-it’s-time-to-say-good-bye that makes me smile:

 

7.   She’s taking charge of the next phase of her life. 

Alleluia!

At some point, all parents will have to cut the umbilical chord and watch to see if the young adult they’ve raised can successfully fly solo.  

These past few weeks, I’ve witnessed a young lady scheduling her yearly physical, speaking with her adviser, renting books online, buying dorm room and school supplies with her own money, writing thank you notes, and making sure she spends quality time with the friends and relatives she loves so much. 

Yes, even us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s The Adult Here Anyways?

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My daughter didn’t sign us up for parent orientation at her college. It was happening simultaneously with freshman orientation. For a very small fee, parents could stay in dorms on campus, eat meals in the dining hall and attend informational sessions for a day and a half.

Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe my daughter decided optional meant my husband and I wouldn’t be interested. Most likely, she wanted to spread her wings and drive the 2-1/2 hours solo to freshman orientation. She has always been comfortable doing things that even now, I need reassurance doing. When I was 18, I remember heading to my own freshman orientation with a little knot in my stomach — and it wasn’t even an overnight event.

I’ve come a long way since my college days, but on certain occasions I’m hit with the realization that I truly am an introvert. I was determined to get a spot at this highly informative parent orientation even though I knew my husband couldn’t join me. But what I neglected to consider was that this experience might be a day and a half of feeling like my 18-year old Nervous Nelly self. 

The goal of arriving on campus and being separated immediately from your freshman was to give parents a taste of what it will be like, come August, when we say our good-byes. A session on letting go explained this: Give your child a kiss, say good-bye and be on your way. It helps your freshman get on with things.

It doesn’t necessarily help the solo mother who expected to meet up with her daughter at some point and is assigned to spend the night with two strangers. Thank goodness for upperclassman suites. Each of us could enjoy the privacy of our own bedrooms.

I arrived first, followed by my first roommate. Hi! I say with my warmest smile. Are you on your own, too? Yes, she says pleasantly, then drops her belongings in her room and heads out to meet up with other moms from her home town, I discover later.

Roommate #2 finally arrives while I’m unpacking my few belongings. She disappears into her room so I decide to wait for her in the living room, reading the only piece of literature I have – the parent orientation agenda — until I have it memorized. Is she taking a nap? She finally emerges from her room, cheerful and receptive to me. We chat about our kids and our families. I have a friend. Yes!

We join a large group of parents for a tour of the campus, but halfway through it my roommate tells me she has a raging headache and will return to the room. I follow along with the other parents, straining to listen to the various types of dorms. At the campus bookstore I purchase a college sweatshirt for myself. Another mom from our town calls to me in the crowd. We’re 2-1/2 hours away from home, not 2-1/2 states away, but I’m thrilled to see a familiar face. She’s alone too but spending the night at a local hotel. She’s my new buddy for the tour and for lunch in the cavernous dining hall.

In the late afternoon, my hometown friend says she’s had enough of the sessions and will head back to her hotel to read and maybe sit by the pool. I’m disappointed and tempted to blow off the day and go with her but I head back to my room with no pool and no TV. As I ponder why I am not thoroughly enjoying this peace and quiet that all busy moms dream about, my roommate pokes her head into my room. She’s feeling better. Would I like to join her for the session about academic advising? Absolutely!

We learn about tutoring as well as all about choosing a major for about 30 minutes when she whispers to me she feels sick to her stomach. (She has shingles and this is her medication’s side effect). Good-bye, roomie.

Dinner is next. At the dining hall I make my way to a table with a tray full of enticing ravioli, salad and garlic bread. I pretend not to care that I know no one sitting around me. I scan the room in a mild panic, convinced I am the only parent without a partner. I check my almost dead cell phone for messages from my daughter. Not one. Are people staring at me with pity or is it my imagination? I quickly shovel food in my mouth so I can get out of the place. I should have skipped orientation. People next to me are laughing about something, completely at ease.

My cell phone dies and the only charger is in my car. I drive to the little college town a few miles away to give my cell phone time to charge. I purchase a magazine to read in the suite. A special parent event is scheduled to take place in the gathering area. We are invited to make posters to cheer on (or perhaps embarrass) our kids the next day as they parade through the campus one last time, to the dining hall. Yes, this is silly, as is the DVD of Saturday Night Fever chosen for any interested parents to sit and watch on the comfortable lounge furniture. But I realize I’m not alone in feeling awkward. Others don’t know what to write on their posters. We end up chatting about the college and how much we miss our kids even though it hasn’t even been a full day since we separated from them. The day ends on a happy note.

After checking out the next morning, I head to breakfast and bump into some of the poster-making moms. I reach out to invite another mom from our floor to join us, and she is visibly relieved. My hometown friend finds us as well. Life is good. More sessions take place and then the parade. My daughter and I easily spot each other. She is smiling happily in the middle of the pack, then laughs out loud at my poster which sports one of her childhood nicknames in big bold colors.

On our ride home, she shares all the bonding activities of the past two days. She’s looking forward to August when she’ll see some of these people again. How was your time? she asks me. She’s loving everything about her new school, I can tell, and I don’t want to spoil it for her. I learned quite a bit, I say. My daughter may be an extrovert but she, too, will be wandering a campus full of strangers in September. It may be uncomfortable for her at times, at least initially. This is all part of life.  It continues for some of us, even in our forties.

At a recent graduation party, I spotted my daughter inviting a quieter, second cousin to join her at a table full of teenagers. (It’s what I needed in that dining hall).  I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Off To College –With Whom Do You Room?

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Now that many high school seniors are committing to their colleges of choice, a lot of buzz is going around about choosing a roommate.  I am reminded of this old wisdom: Never room with a friend from your hometown or anyone that you know well, your freshman year.

The logic behind this is simple.  Meet new people. Branch out.  Spread your wings.  Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.

My daughter will be heading off to college in the fall.  She insists that everyone is choosing their roommates nowadays.  What she is referring to is  colleges and universities that now have Facebook pages, on which incoming freshmen can socialize with each other months in advance of setting foot on campus.  Incoming freshmen are using these Facebook pages to pair up with other incoming freshmen who they think will make good roommates.

I understand why choosing a roommate this way is so appealing to teenagers.  Social media to teens is as important as, (or possibly even more important than), their physical relationships.  In my day, incoming college freshmen would have to wait with anticipation until orientation day to meet other freshmen classmates. That anxiety (or excitement, depending on how you interpret it) is all but eliminated for teens today because they can chat online and gather all sorts of information about each other prior to meeting.  But does this cyber-networking result in a roommate pairing that will work?  Hopefully.

I think the traditional system of randomly pairing up freshmen roommates is better for this reason:  If kids can learn early on to accept, get along with and appreciate others who may be quite different from themselves, they will have learned one of life’s most valuable skills.  Conversely, kids who limit themselves to associating only with like-minded people will eventually have to deal with co-workers, neighbors or even in-laws who have different ideas and opinions.  Like a box full of crayons, the world is made up of all types of people: easy-going, outspoken, assertive, abrasive, timid…..   They all bring something unique to the world but they all need to get along.

Of course, students who are assigned a roommate cannot be paired up with anyone, which is why those questionnaires issued to incoming freshmen are so helpful.  My daughter prefers to study at bedtime, using the bed as her desk.  And music has to be  playing.  She can stay up very late and still manage to get ready quickly for school in the morning.  Oh, and she is perfectly content hanging out in a tremendously messy room.  Personally, I don’t love her system but it works for her.  I wonder how it will work in college when she shares a room with a stranger.  But that is her job:  to figure it out.

Choosing a roommate could be an option that works beautifully for some students.  It does seem logical that a person who shares some of the same interests — country music, Stephen King  books, indoor soccer, frozen yogurt, the same major, etc.  —  has potential for being a good roommate.  But in all likelihood, even two people who have a lot in common will differ in some ways, too.  Differences that are less discernable over Facebook. include motivation and work ethic, integrity, learning style and trustworthiness, to name a few.

If you really think about it, most adults have a variety of friends.  They may have a common bond, such as being mothers to middle school kids or members of a certain health club.  Other than sharing that common bond, though, friends can be markedly different from each other in terms of education, occupation, or personality.  But these differences are what make the friendships so rich and enduring.

My daughter has a variety of friends.  They are musicians, athletes, actors and students with varying degrees of talent and ambition.  A friend of hers from another town likes to hang out and watch classic Disney movies, like Beauty and the Beast.  They both sing and act, so this is their way of bonding.  My daughter likes to take long walks and simply talk with her co-worker/friend.  All of her friends vary in personality and interests but all have enriched her life in unique ways and I have a feeling the bonds will endure even when they all go their separate ways.

Freshmen roommates, chosen or assigned, are not guaranteed to work out.  Some will switch roommates after a semester or after a year.  My own freshman roommate was very different from me.  She was very outgoing and I was quiet.  We did not become close friends but she respected my need to have more quiet time and thanks to her, I learned some tips about reaching out to make friends.  By the end of our first year together, we both chose to go our separate ways.  We had developed friendships with others in our dorm and across campus.

Some roommates hit it off with each other immediately.  And there are some who, despite being very different, go on to become lifelong friends. They may never have chosen each other from any description or Facebook interaction but a friendship blossomed.

Like all freshmen, my daughter will need to reach out and make new friends when she starts the next chapter in her life.  I think she is ready.  Will she choose a roommate from her college’s Facebook page?  Yesterday it bothered her that she hadn’t found one yet.  Today, she says no, she will be fine having a roommate assigned to her.   I’m fine with that, too.

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