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going to college with a sibling?

CRiverMacCRiverMac 3 replies3 threads New Member
edited February 2019 in Parents Forum
so, i’m in a bit of a dilemma.

i guess i’m the classic resentful younger sibling. i’ve always hated being referred to as “_____’s little sister”, so i made a point of becoming everything my sister isn’t. we are only 17 months apart (2 grades apart), so we are pretty close in age. she’s a sophomore in college and i’m a senior in high school, nearing the end of my college search. i applied to the school my sister goes to, due to force from her and my parents. i got in, and also got accepted to the honors college and got a pretty high scholarship (i got way more money than she got, which she wasn’t happy about).

i love my sister, i really do. she’s my best friend. but, she has a nasty superiority complex. if i receive an award she never got, or outperform her in a certain area, she’ll make some nasty comment. she thinks she’s a lot smarter than me. yet, she really really wants me to go to her college.

i have no interest in going to school with her. granted, it’s a large school (about 30,000 students) but i don’t want to seem like i’m following her to her school. i want to carve my own path in my own life, and i don’t always want to be compared to her. if she happens to get a higher GPA or make the deans list and i don’t, i know i’ll never hear the end of it. we are completely different people, but everyone seems to think i should idolize her and aspire to be just like her.

another thing: the school she goes is in-state, and only one hour away. the school i want to go to is 8 hours away. my sister had a rough freshman year, and was always coming home on the weekends, which was easy due to the close drive. my parents are convinced that i’ll be as needy as she was and that i’ll have no way to come home. however, i am extremely independent. i know i’ll be just fine being on my own, but because my sister was always coming home on the weekends, my parents keep assuming i’ll be just like her. however, like i said, i pride myself on the fact that i am nothing like her, but no one seems to understand that. i’m always being viewed as “_____’s little sister” and people, my parents included, assume my freshman year should be just like hers, down to the school she went to. i’ve been compared to her from kindergarten to senior year. she’s gotten to carve her own path since she’s the oldest, and college is a time to fully express yourself, but no one seems to want me too.

btw: it’s not about the money. my parents are able to afford to send me wherever i want (which i am very grateful for).

TLDR: family is practically forcing me to go to my older sister’s college, but i want to go to any school but that.
edited February 2019
23 replies
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Replies to: going to college with a sibling?

  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2779 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Can you and your parents afford the college 8 hours away? Does it cost more than the in state university for your education? Can you finish in 4 years at both universities? You could also consider transferring after a year or two if the in state public program is not meeting your educational needs. Besides getting away from your sister, is there other reasons the college 8 hours away will be better for you?
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  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 486 replies8 threads Member
    I generally apply the "would I regret it if I didn't?" test to a decision like this. It sounds to me that if you go to the school with your sister, you will blame her/that relationship for anything that goes wrong, and you'll regret not taking the other school that is farther away. So, if your parents really can afford the far-away school, I would say go there, as long as it's not significantly worse in terms of academics. Your relationship with your sister is, long term, more important than where you go to college, and it sounds like the best thing for that relationship is some time apart and a chance to assert your own identity.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8666 replies77 threads Senior Member
    If money isn't an issue, go to school where you want to go. Sounds like you will regret it if you don't.

    That said, chances that anyone in your new circle will know your sister at a big school is slim. You can definitely carve out your own life and identity, especially if you are in another major.
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  • TS0104TS0104 1100 replies28 threads Senior Member
    I think you should determine exactly why your parents are pushing your sister's school, is it the finances (you say not, but do they agree?), the proximity, both, or other reasons? Then address those reasons with your parents one on one. Leave your sister out of it, and don't make your reasoning about "I don't want to go where she goes." Make your reasoning all about you and what you feel is best for you. Present a case as to why the 8 hour away school is a better fit for you, and those reasons should go much beyond "it isn't my sisters school" and "its the furthest away."
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  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids 766 replies76 threads Member
    2 conflicting thoughts for you.

    First, my younger sister went to my school. It was a big state school, and we ended up with some friends in common, but largely created our own paths. It isn't that hard to do at a large University, unless you both have some narrowly defined talent or interest. Even then my sister and I had a couple of organizations in common, but outside of events for those I probably saw her a couple of times a month. Not because we were avoiding each other, just because we were both busy doing our own things. So if you end up there, it probably isn't that big a deal.

    Second, last year I wasn't happy about the college choice my oldest was making. He was a great fit for the state flagship, and had many connections already established there. It was the perfect school for him, but he kept coming up with what I thought were pretty weak reasons why he didn't want to go there. Finally one night he opened up and told me the real reason. For reasons that aren't important here, his little brother (only 1 year younger) is very well known in our state. Even though little brother was not planning on going to the flagship, he is still well known among a portion of the student population. Older brother has felt like he has spent his whole life being known primarily as X's brother. He wanted to go somewhere out of state where noone knew our family so he could blaze his own path. His brother is well liked so that isn't the issue, but he was sick of being X's brother, not his own person. I still wanted him to go the flagship, but I did respect where he was coming from. Since that conversation I have not once told him that he was making a mistake with his college choice.
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  • pickpocketpickpocket 427 replies3 threads Member
    edited February 2019
    Do not rule out the school because your sister is there.

    1--You will probably rarely see her, unless you or she goes out of the way to arrange a meal etc.
    2-- Practically no one will know you two are related. (it's not like high school)

    I say this because I went to the same college as my sister, and also two of my children attended college together. In both our cases the siblings were 2 years apart at a mid size (5000 student) college.

    In fact my only clear memories of my sister at college was when we were having a party and I called her to invite all her friends to come join us!
    edited February 2019
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  • gouf78gouf78 7795 replies23 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    If your sister wasn't there, would you go? That's the main question.

    You've been accepted to the honor's college which is great and I presume it fulfills your requirements as to major etc. Sounds like finances are in place. (which is a big deal for parents).
    Do you like the school?

    You are assuming your parents think you'll NEED to come home and so don't want you to go far away and blame that on your sister's actions. You react to that as an insult. I understand but it may not be true.
    As a parent, that's the furthest thing from my mind. In a very selfish vein I'd love to keep all my kids close to home but also know that won't always be an option. Your parents are probably thinking more about themselves than you in that respect.

    The school is large. Unless you actively plan to interact with sis, your classes are the same, you join the same clubs, etc. there is no reason to get together. It may be harder than you think. You'll have your own social circles.
    If you do have the same interests then your sister's present involvement will probably be beneficial to you.

    Believe me, you WILL be carving your own way. You're two years behind. That's a lot in college years.

    Why is your sister encouraging you to join her? Consider that. She must be having a good experience and wants you to have one too.

    From your post...
    "I love my sister, i really do. she’s my best friend. but, she has a nasty superiority complex. if i receive an award she never got, or outperform her in a certain area, she’ll make some nasty comment. she thinks she’s a lot smarter than me. yet, she really really wants me to go to her college."

    I'm going to attribute this to jealousy on a sibling level (universal actually).. You state "she's my best friend". If she want's you to attend her college it's because she's had a good experience and wants you to enjoy it also.
    edited February 2019
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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3580 replies24 threads Senior Member

    My sisters and I went to the same college, our in-state flagship, because it was the best academic option within our family's budget. We only saw each other when we wanted to do so.

    If you have other options that are of similar quality or better and at similar cost, then you will be in a good position to negotiate with your parents. However if the distant option costs more without a similar boost in fit, prestige, reputation, academics, etc. it is likely to be a harder sell. Keep in mind that it might be a hardship for your parents to pay an upcharge, even if they "say" that cost is not a factor.

    Being in the honors program, you are likely to have access to honors housing and other group activities to build community, none of which is likely to involve your sister. In addition, given the size of the school, it is unlikely that anybody will identify you as the younger sibling.

    I would keep an open mind and try to attend an accepted students event and see how you like it. Good luck!
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  • yucca10yucca10 1343 replies40 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    It's a tough position to be in, and I understand your feelings. However, if you're trying to carve your own path, you should realize that by choosing a school because your sister isn't in it, you still allow her choices to dictate yours. Whether you're following your sister or make a point of not following, you're still thinking of her path first. You should make your own choices independently.
    edited February 2019
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  • Fish125Fish125 264 replies4 threads Junior Member
    If you were my kid, I’d encourage you to write down your thoughts and goals. What your expectations are for college and after college. What are the pluses and minuses of each university that has accepted you, include the cost, dorms, etc. Don’t include any personal feelings about your sister in this. This list should be centered around academics, campus vibe and fit, opportunities such as research and internships, etc. Take any preconceived biases out of this equation.

    Sit down with your parents and go over the list. Get their input, especially to confirm about cost and travel expenses. As a parent, I’d want to hear why you want to go there and not about sibling relationships. If the university your sister attends comes out on top for what you want, then you need to talk to your parents about how to make that college your domain, and how to create a strong level of independence. Later on, have a family discussion with your sister about how to create an atmosphere that supports both of you on campus. Include your parents in this meeting and you can all come to a decision to work together. You might find that your sister isn't too thrilled about sharing her university with a sibling either, so you might need to work out a compromise between the two of you.

    If her university isn’t the best fit for you, then sit down with your parents and go over your list and explain the reasons why you feel another university is a better fit. Your feelings about attending your sister’s college really shouldn’t be the driving force in determining what school is right for you. You might find there are stronger reasons to go elsewhere. Ones that your parents will understand and support.

    If you have two universities that are tied for first place, then that’s a great time to bring up the need to have your own university experience completely different from your sister. My kids are also 17 months a part, and I’ll admit there was a lure about being able to drop them off at the same time without having to go to two separate universities, as well as having another sibling there in case an emergency happened, but we didn’t understand how much our son needed to spread his wings away from his sister. We’re a very close family. He adores his sister and loves her dearly, but after spending his entire preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school experience two years behind his sister, and having the same teachers 95% of the time, he was ready to move on. They are equally strong scholars and were in the same clubs. Many times, their friends were the siblings of the other one’s friends. For him, going to a different university is what he needed personally to mature. It had nothing to do with competing with his sister or any personality conflicts. He just needed his own experience.

    Ultimately, one chose to live on campus at our local university, while the other was three hours away in Los Angeles. Both received institutional scholarships at their universities, which was a big draw for all of us. It was the perfect decision for both kids. The younger one did apply to his sister’s university, but he only did that to have bragging rights that he turned down his sister’s school (which he did). My son did, however, have a strong list of reasons for not going to his sister’s school that had nothing to do with her. It was a much better fit for him academically, research-wise, and financially.

    As an aside - My kids both attended universities with 30,000+ students in large cities, and yet they ran into people all the time they knew from our neighborhood and community, but that is really how it is for everyone in our family. Even when we travel, we run into folks we know, and they did have classes with people from our community.. On the day he moved into his dorm freshman year, my son noticed the names of two friends on the doors right next to his. One from his high school, and the other from his youth group days (this was a good thing for him). I have no doubt my kids would have ran into each other often if they attended the same college especially since they have similar interests. It is how our family rolls. If they ended up sharing the same campus, they would have dealt with it and worked together to make sure they each had their own experience
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 23800 replies17 threads Senior Member
    Don't go to school 8 hours away just to spite anyone. That's a long and inconvenient distance. My daughter who was 2.5 hours away came home about 3 times per semester.

    I went to school 45 minutes away (at the same time as my brother who is 19 months older than me). I never went home, he never went home, I could see his apartment from my apartment balcony, and I never just ran into him. He played tennis occasionally with my friend, I saw his girlfriend occasionally at that was as much interaction as we had.

    When you go to school close to home, you control all the contacts. No need for parents to plan a big weekend for you to come home as you can go just about any time for dinner or a party or just to drop in. My friend's son went to the flagship in their town and he came home on Sunday nights to dinner, to do laundry, to watch football. He also brought his cousin who was from a town about 1.5 hours away. Sometimes it is nice to get away from the dorm, from a boyfriend, from college life and it isn't possible at 8 hours away.

    I'd take the honors college, the scholarships, the 1 hour from home, and the sister.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 5814 replies84 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    Like others have mentioned it won’t be an issue on campus. I went to school with an older sibling. We only saw each other when we wanted to or better to say when I wanted to.

    wanted to get into a party
    wanted a ride home for the holidays
    wanted to borrow some money
    wanted some advice on professors.
    wanted some help moving.
    wanted a friend
    edited February 2019
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  • bopperbopper 14291 replies101 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Some things to think about when going OOS:

    1) How is the weather compared to where you are?
    2) How easy is it to get home for holidays?
    3) Is home or college airport in a snowy zone which delays transit?
    4) How expensive is it to travel home?
    5) How often would they like to visit home? May not be able to go home for say, fall break if it is too $$
    6) How likely is it that you will need to come home/need to parent to visit? do they have anxiety, etc?
    7) OOS public schools will be more expensive than In state. Private schools will be the same
    8) Have you had experience with being away from home? e.g, camps or band trips or the like?

    And one advantage to you going to the same school is that the colleges are on the same schedule..pick up drop offs are at the same time. But i don't think that is a reason for you to choose the college.
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  • JHSJHS 18503 replies72 threads Senior Member
    My kids, two years apart, went to the same college. It was nice for both of them, even though they didn't see each other that often. They are really different people, although they had something of the same dynamic you describe. Kid #1 had a big personality and a lot of recognition. Kid #2 was actually a better student, but constantly felt judged for not being as creative or as brilliant as Kid #1. The both loved their college in their own ways, but what they loved was mostly pretty different.

    Nonetheless, Kid #2 inherited a great apartment when Kid #1 graduated, and before that Kid #1 found a place to live for Kid #2 that he liked almost as much as the apartment he inherited a year later. Their parents visited slightly more often and spent more money on them because they could kill two birds with one stone. They did favors for one another sometimes. They traveled home together sometimes for vacations. They shared some secrets that they kept from us. And today, a decade later, they are definitely closer because they shared some common experiences in college.

    My two-classes-younger sister was desperate not to be my sister all the time anymore. She felt she never measured up to me. My parents let her go to a college they hadn't let me apply to (too far away for them), because in her case distance seemed so necessary. Then . . . I went to graduate school at her university. And it was nice. We maybe saw each other once a month. She found me my first apartment, which wasn't so great, but I was really nervous about showing up there with no place to live, and I didn't want to be stuck in a dorm. She also found me a car; I gave her rides sometimes. We traveled home together sometimes for vacations. Etc. We are closer today, 35 years later, because we shared a couple of years on the same campus, even though in all that time we may not have spent as much as 10 hours/year together.
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  • 88jm1988jm19 813 replies19 threads Member
    I agree with those who suggest you try to take your sister out of the equation. Evaluate the school as if she weren’t there. If you like it, then consider your options for making it work. One thing I would do to deal with your sister’s superiority complex is to tell her how it makes you feel in a non-accusatory way. Tell her in a mature way, when she’s being “nasty”. Tell her you don’t appreciate her snide comments when she makes one. She probably has no idea she’s being mean-spirited....she probably assumes you know she’s ‘just joking’. Then give her room to change her pattern of behavior.

    I’ll share my family’s story:

    My kids are 2 years apart, went to the same university, both majored in business and were active in the same business fraternity. They would say it worked out well, but they would also probably admit they had reservations going into it.

    Our daughter (D17) is older, a high achiever, organized and competitive in nature. Our son (S19), while also a high achiever, is more laid back. We thought he might not want to follow behind her, but he realized that he could “deal with it” for 2 years. It may have been a little more difficult for her because she had that freedom from family and he might “crimp her style”.

    Anyway, we talked as a family. My husband and I were clear and firm that we expected our daughter to be supportive. As others have intimated, it would be unfair if a school that was “best for him” had to be dismissed for the sole reason that our daughter picked it first. To our son we were equally firm about his respecting her. On one hand it was easy to see him not being a tag-along, because it’s not in his personality. On the other hand we told him he had to be sensitive to his sister’s feelings. We set expectations that the two of them would have to learn to peacefully co-exist and more importantly communicate when either of them were having issues with the other.

    Fortunately for us, they figured it out without involving my husband and I. I admit we were surprised when our son joined the same business frat, which “made them” have contact with each other on a fairly regular basis. If you ask me what helped them the most, I think it would be their healthy respect for each other. It sounds corny but it’s true....though I don’t think they would ever say it.

    Our daughter respects how intelligent and non-petty her brother is. Our son respects how committed she is to excellence and her beliefs. They are both very reasonable individuals who can accept a ‘not perfect’ scenario.

    I apologize for rambling but another factor that may have contributed to our success is my husband and I have been open with some of the struggles we have dealt with concerning our aging parents. It might be slightly morbid but we jokingly talk about what we expect from our kids as we age. They in turn, jokingly divvy up the responsibilities....our daughter has taken health care and purging stuff. Our son will be paying bills, taxes and in general, manage our financial needs. My husband and I are fine with that, but we said ‘checks and balances’ is a good thing, so communicate!!

    Would I say my kids are close? I’m not sure, but I do think they are much closer than if they hadn’t gone to the same university. In the Fall they will be working less than 2 city blocks from each other. Will they get together without prodding from us? Maybe. They know it makes us happy. For the 2 years they overlapped in college, they probably went out for coffee or lunch, once per semester. How do I know? They would text a picture....though the first time they sent the selfie, we joked they’ll probably take several in different positions and just send them to us periodically to get us to think they were getting together.

    Oh, and one last thing. Our son started dating his current girlfriend at school and our daughter knew about it, of course. However my husband and I didn’t find out about it until Winter Break, when he wanted to borrow the car. As details came out we laughed and teased our daughter...why didn’t you tell us? She said and I quote, “sibling code”. They looked at each other and needless to say, dh and I were extremely happy.
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  • KLSDKLSD 270 replies4 threads Junior Member
    ^ Our children are having a similar experience. They are 6 hours away with multiple ways to travel back and forth during breaks and help each other out when one is ill. I will add that you may be more similar than you perceive within your own home. Immersed in a large diverse student population, they find that they have similar values and approaches to life even though they have different interests, sleeping habits and majors.

    They definitely communicate with each other and only share a portion with their parents. Our home family situation is complicated by illness, so I am grateful they they are close enough to support each other when I call with bad news. I fund 'take your brother or sister to dinner' if I am concerned about either one, send one box of care packages and we have a little more freedom for travel and family time because they have identical academic schedules.

    Take a step back from the distance, whether your sister is a student and look at the department of your major at every school you are applying. Where are you the best fit and challenged for four years? Then look at the research opportunities, clubs/sports and living environment. By your junior or senior year you will be immersed in your department.
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  • mathmommathmom 32750 replies160 threads Senior Member
    Both my younger brothers went to the same college I did. I overlapped with the older one for just two years. I barely saw him - different majors, different dorms/houses, different friends. However after my freshman year best friend took a couple of years off she ended up in my brother's class. They've been an item ever since.

    I was kind of surprised my brothers didn't want to branch out and try something different. They had very different interests from me. We never felt competitive that I know of, though I know my grades were much better than theirs!
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  • maya54maya54 2373 replies97 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    ‘That said, chances that anyone in your new circle will know your sister at a big school is slim.”

    I want to point out that for many kids this just isn’t true. And I see people saying this all the time so I want to set things straight.

    It may be true for some kids but not for kids at the huge state school here nor at my daughters huge OOS school. If you are going Greek it certainly won’t be true. And if your hometown send lots and lots of kids to the big state school it very often isn’t true. Those kids STILL hang out together and know about each other’s siblings. Sure you could actively choose to avoid them but you might notwant to have to limit your self and make this big “ statement”. The same goes for kids who belong to some ethnic/ religious group that they want to be a part of at college. At her HUGE OOS school my daughter sees and interacts with other Jewish students all the time. If someone’s young sibling is there and part of Hillel they are very very likely to hear “ Oh you’re ________’s little brother/sister ALL THE TIME.

    edited February 2019
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  • ccprofandmomof2ccprofandmomof2 486 replies8 threads Member
    I'm glad to see @maya54 give an alternate view. I also went to a huge college and my sibling's presence was very strongly felt. I think it's likely that people are more likely to post to this thread with positive or neutral anecdotes, and that those who had a less positive experience are perhaps not as likely to be open about it.
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