So You’re Off To College, Kind of…

When can we set up your dorm?
So, tell me about your classes?

If “experience is the teacher of all things”, I would ask the question, does it have to be in person?

Those of us who grew up in the 70s, 80s and even most of the 90s were never given the choice; you had to show up.  Now, not only do you not have to show up, many places don’t want you there anyway. Some may see this a win-win situation, but for a parent watching their kids in this new era, it’s heart-breaking.

For those of us with high school seniors who graduated at some point during the last couple of months, we felt their pain.
Now they are all moving on, but in what capacity?  

Full disclosure: even as I write this, my son has not decided (or at least he hasn’t yet told me), if he is moving into his dorm or staying home this semester and doing on-line classes. 

Two years ago, my daughter graduated from high school and went to UVA. Oh the plans we made and the things we did!
The first trip we made was to visit the school, the second was for ‘undecided accepted students’, the third was to move her in.  
The whole weekend was planned around it, reservations made early to get a hotel room, dinner reservations because we were told how crowded it would be and the car was packed in a way that would allow us to move her in before we went to the hotel.   I think we made about five trips to Target during the two weeks before her scheduled move-in date.   
The weekend was full of parent and new student activities, a full schedule including the opening football game, a meet and greet with the professors, orientations and memories that will last forever.

Fast forward two years and in many cases the freshmen going into college have a choice to make, stay home or come on in and work from your dorm, the decision is yours to make. 
Wait, what, he has a choice now?  

He made the decision during the application process, he got in, he followed the rules, and even though there was no in-person orientation, he was still excited to be going. 
So, what if the second half of senior year didn’t really happen, college was going to happen and he was going.   Well, kind of going even if he never has to leave the house, he still gets to go.

And this is what many of the students entering college are dealing with now. Do they stay or do they go and – to complicate their decision even more – most if not all of their classes, depending on the school, will be on-line. 

You could argue that they should go for the experience. OK, but what experience?  Will they get what every student that came before them has got?  
At the very least, they will kind of move out of their house and start the next phase of their life. That matters, doesn’t it?

If I look back at my daughter’s experiences, that was a huge part of her first year. She had so much to do, classes, parties, clubs, finding her perfect spot in the library, meet and greets, parties, oh, did I say that already, I remember hearing about that quite often, and so many first-year events it was hard to keep track.  What will this year’s freshmen get, and could this work in reverse? Will they be turned off from the school they couldn’t wait to get into?

My worry: if they decide to stay home, are they making the decision for the right reasons or are they prolonging the comfort of their bedroom and all that comes with living at home, and are they slightly hesitant about moving forward? 

Of course, there is the financial part of this equation, but for the purpose of this discussion, and what is right for the student, it’s the experiences he or she gets that I am focusing on. 

I can argue both sides of this but most important is what’s best for my son.   At the same time, he is a young adult and I feel he has to make the decision he is comfortable with.  

Maybe the ‘experience’ is more internal and not necessarily physical. 

So, how do I help him? 

I would remind him –
You are college-ready.
You are now a college student.
You are moving to the next phase of your life and should be so proud of yourself.
This class is at the forefront of new ideas, new norms and how you face these new challenges is as important as logistics right now, if not more so. 
Have an open mind and experience it all your way.

In my experience, oh wait, I have no experience in this situation and clearly neither do the schools, which is why in most cases this class has choices. 

Your experience, however unique it is, starts now and I have so much faith in you to get it right.”

What do you think, does it have to be in person?

2 thoughts

  1. I am right there in the same boat! Although we’ve been coaching our impending College Freshman through all her Senior year disappointments, I keep thinking to myself–how much more is she not going to be able to experience….we are taking her next month to her dorm…but it’s just not the same…
    xo eva

    1. It has been so hard on this class and I keep trying to find the silver lining…I almost wish the school would not have given the choice to freshman, with no experience, it’s a very hard decision for them to make… I wish you the best of luck with your daughter and really hope they can enjoy their first year of college!

Leave a Reply