Greetings from your college student,
I’m writing from a cluttered desk, with only enough free space for my computer and the cup of coffee I just brewed (hoping it’s magical powers will at least help me get through the morning). My dorm room is overflowing with dirty mugs and cereal bowls, and the pile of unfolded laundry on my futon grows by the day. I have four assignments due by two o’clock today, three of which I haven’t started. A friend called last night out of the blue and we talked for hours – which was great – but I only got a few hours of sleep. To top it off, my best friend just snapped at me because she also has four assignments due, but all hers are due before lunch… And this is what it’s like to be away from home.
I think when I went away to college, my parents and sisters thought my life was going to be one big party. When I came home for the first time I felt like an alien among my own flesh and blood. My family expected that I had so many new experiences, to the point where they suddenly didn’t know how to relate with me, and all I wanted was for things to feel like normal.
The biggest challenge being away at college, is remembering how to include your family. And though I am always appreciative of snacks and goodies sent in the mail or money put in my bank account when I want to take a spontaneous trip to NYC with my friends (Thanks mom!). There are always a few things I want my parents to know about what it’s like being a college student and a few things I need to hear from them:
- College students are stressed out. Not just over those assignments due in a few hours, or even the assignments due that I’m still working on. We are stressed about the unknowns of what come after this. As much as we like to think we know it all, there are so many things that are truly a bit intimidating, especially as we look to the future. Like… life insurance, retirement plans, and I can’t even imagine the day I have to get my own phone plan. We need to know it’s going to be okay.
- College students are unsure. Knowing from observant experience, more than half of all college students change their majors at least once; most change it more. For goodness’ sake, we’re attempting to make some major life decisions before we even turn 21. With the choices we make in our academics and in life, it’s important to know you support us even if things look a little mixed up right now. We need to know you trust us.
- College students will mess up. It’s true, there are many new experiences open to us, maybe things you never allowed in our homes growing up, but trust me, none of us are looking to through our lives away, we’re just trying to learn. Everyone’s journey is different, some will mess up more than others. We usually are the most distant when we know you’d be disappointed with us, we don’t want to feel judged and we don’t want to let you down. We need to know you’ll still welcome us home when we do mess up.
Above all, we want you to know that we realize our relationship is changing. Of course we’ll make mistakes, but we still want your advice. We’ll try to be independent, but we still need hugs before heading out the door. And most of all we might not always show it, but we still love you and respect you more than ever.