How to respond when they can't imagine leaving my mom and dad to go off to college

<p>We have started the process of looking into colleges for daughter #2 who is a junior in hs. The program she wants isn't offered in our state. So tonight she blurts out that she can't imagine leaving us and going away to college. She doesn't even like sleepovers :~/ For all you "been there, done that", your response is greatly appreciated.</p>

<p>Reassure her that 18 months between now and when she starts college is a very long time and she may change a LOT in that time, as many others do. If she wants to, she could always start her college/undergrad coursework at an in-state U & then transfer to a school that has her major (if she still even wants that major by then). It might be good to see if she could try a summer program away from home, just to see if she likes it. There is a program called HOBY--Hugh OBrien Youth Leadership program in most states throughout the country that offers some interesting in state programs and also a national conference every year as well. That might give her a taste of being more independent and let her feel what it MIGHT be a bit like.</p>

<p>She might also want to see if there are any programs in her proposed field that she could try this summer, to see what it's like. Kids can find out that the field they THINK they want isn't anything like they expect when they see what the work actually involves OR they love it more than ever. There are a ton of kids who aren't fond of sleepovers who LOVE college once they start, even tho it may be further away then they're used to.</p>

<p>Don't send her far from home if things don't change. She can always transfer later on, but I can't tell you how many times I have seen kids shoved out of the nest only to return a semester or 2 later. </p>

<p>Many times dorm becomes "home", but going to a different area of the country where things will be different may be more of a challenge than she's ready to deal with.</p>

<p>I'd suggest talking to her about considering comm college for 2 years where she can make the transition a little easier. If she balks at that it may tell you something about her being more ready than she thinks, if she readily agrees you may have your answer.</p>

<p>It may be important to find out whether the program she wants can be done as a transfer. Some professional majors require you to start specialized courses quite early, in which case transferring would not be an option.</p>

<p>But if transferring is possible (or if she's willing to give up the specialized major), maybe she would be happier starting off at a nearby college that is not a CC -- perhaps a branch of your state university system -- where she could live on campus and therefore have the opportunity to get involved in campus life but at the same time could come home for the weekends as often as she wants.</p>

<p>My son was the sort who didn't want to go far, but he also didn't want a community college. His choice was our state university -- which is less than an hour's drive from home. I expected him to come home frequently for weekends and perhaps even switch to commuting (which is possible, although not easy, from our community). But once there, he loved it, and he rarely came home outside of scheduled breaks. And by the time he graduated, he had a very different feeling about independence. Within a month after graduation, he had moved to the other side of the country.</p>

<p>Maybe she just wants reassurance that you are okay with her going away ~ and in any case, by the time college arrives, she is likely to feel differently. </p>

<p>I would continue to look at colleges, continue to send the message that she will be capable, that you have confidence in her, that you will come to visit and enjoy the opportunity to see a new place with her. You might also want to find some out-of-the-house activities for her, and for yourself, to build up everyone's tolerance for being apart. Send her on errands, go places without her (not vacation, I mean shopping, etc.), teach her to cook!</p>

<p>definately try to find a summer program that she spends the night away this summer. On a college campus would be ideal. It will help a lot!</p>

<p>I have a couple of nephews who did not go "away" to commuted to the nearby uni, the other to the even closer community college. They love their family & sibs and really didn't want to go away. They are both very mature and I think they saw living in a dorm with possible substance abusers as downward mobility!</p>


<p>You also may want to think about getting a general assessment for mild anxiety disorders for her. If that is the situation, the right talk therapy and/or medication could make a huge difference.</p>

<p>My d1 didn't want to go far away. She's actually going to school locally but living in the dorms. First semester she was home every weekend. Second semester, we're at 3 weekends in a row "on-campus" already. Yeah, she pops home on Fridays to do laundry, but she's there alone. </p>

<p>I am very glad we did not have d live at home. She needed to get out and away from us. Living on campus but coming home weekends was a nice intermediate step. She's a much nicer visitor than she was a resident, especially that last summer. Warning: sometimes the kids who fear going away/moving out the most really act up as that separation time looms-supposedly it makes it easier for them to go. There were times I didn't think mine would live to see move-in day.</p>

<p>Another thing you can do is start getting her used to the idea of leaving now. Take some work related trips or just a weekend away with the spouse and have her stay with someone else while you're gone. Send her to visit some friends or relatives away this summer without you. And, every once in while, mention some of the positives about being out from under mom and dad's roof, like no curfew, no dishes if she has a meal plan, etc.</p>

<p>All very helpful input. thank you so much</p>

<p>I agree with some of the other posters; if she is your last kid at home, she might be looking for reassurance that you guys will be okay in an empty nest!</p>

<p>She's at an age where what she wants now is not necessarily what she'll want when it's time to go to college. My youngest son never wanted to go to sleep-away camp or to any summer program away from home. He applied to schools close by and far away and by the time he had to decide, he chose a school about 1,000 miles from home and he's done absolutely fine! In fact, he's now doing a semester abroad in London as a junior. You just never know. When they're ready, they're ready.</p>

<p>If she is worried about herself being away from you, lots of practice trips away from home--long weekends visiting relatives, a shopping trip somewhere with a friend, summer camp, etc. If she is worried about what you will do without her, give her a list of all the home renovation plans you have :).</p>

<p>I agree with the others. </p>

<p>"The Program" may change with time and become irrelevant, it may be possible to do the first two (more general) years closer to home and transfer, or in some cases, it can be fulfilled with a broader and more traditional degree (e.g. a school might offer forensic chemistry but you'd actually be better off getting a regular general degree in chemistry).</p>

<p>I'd also want to add that contrary to a lot of Americans' mindsets, one can grow up, be mature, successful, independent without having to 'go away to college'. This is a uniquely - by far- American concept and it is not remotely the end of the world if she wants to stay closer to home. Its almost bizarre now that i look at it (even though I went away for my last years and my kids are likely to go off to college), how we helicopter and micromanage their lives, yet then expect them to fly away to grow up. In most cultures (including Canada, the one I'm in now), this 'going away to college' is wholly unnecessary. But it's not as if Canadian kids are any less mature, successful, independent.</p>

<p>i was like that (cept with a school that was 60 miles away from home).</p>

<p>I just got excited with one or so classes that i was really interested in taking, that seemed to help some.</p>

<p>Aside from changes in this area she may undergo between now and a year and a half from now, remind her (and yourselves) that nowadays with cell phones, texting, email, video calls via Skype or the equivalent, relatively inexpensive flights (if one books way ahead), and the like, it's not as distant as she might anticipate. On top of that, hopefully she'll be very busy with her classes, HW, and other college activities filling up her time so she may not be as lonely as she anticipates.</p>

<p>The area of communications has changed drastically since I went to college and didn't even have a landline phone (too expensive).</p>

<p>Before choosing schools based on a rare/specialized major, you should probably make sure she has actually shadowed or at least talked with people working in that field and students who are currently in that major. I've seen many kids, including one of my own, who were very intent on a particular major and then switched gears by sophomore year. I'm glad that my kid's school was large enough to have plenty of other majors to choose from, especially as she was like your D and didn't really want to move away from home and had really just settled in at her school. It was a tough time in the beginning, but she was happy again by the end of freshman year and has grown tremendously for it.</p>

<p>My D is a sweet wussy homebody. She's extremely social and confident at school, but she's also one to want to be at home when the chips are down. Her #1 choice of colleges is in San Diego, an 18 drive or a two-plane trip. I'm not sure she realizes how far away it really is. My feeling is that once she's there she'll love it, and if she tries out for, and makes, the university's dance team, that will help, since that's her passion. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried. We shall see.</p>

<p>My son has not been away from home for more than the four days he attended a running camp. I am a bit nervous about him going too far away, but his current number one choice for where he has been accepted is nearly a seven-hour drive. We flew to visit, but I do not know how it will go. I know he is a little nervous, but not all decisions are in. I feel the OP's pain.</p>

<p>Starbright--I guess it depends on if you helicoptered and micromanaged their lives. I am sure there are plenty of helicopter parents in Canada too. I've personally seen people that have not gone away for college struggle in the workforce for the first year or so because it was their first time away from home. I would rather that process happen freshman year in college where there are safeguards built into the system to deal with kids that are homesick. Your boss isn't going to really care all that much if you want to go see Mommy and don't have any vacation time.</p>

<p>I agree that in most cultures kids are expected to do more for themselves all along and thus are just more mature at 18 than a lot of kids around here. Unfortunately it isn't the kids that cause this, it's the parents that can't let the kids go, parents that haven't allowed kids to attend sleepovers, who never got babysitters or only used Grandma and Grandpa, didn't allow kids to wander out of their yards unsupervised until they were 16, etc. You can't expect an 18 year old that has never had to make their own decisions just fly the coop. That "training" needs to start when they are babies.</p>