By: Meghan Lupo, student author
When one chapter closes, another one begins
When I graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait for the journey that was about to unfold in front of me. Moving away from home and starting college represented a significant step towards adulthood and becoming more independent.
Although the change was exciting, it became apparent that a sense of loss followed suit. For many students the transition brings about lots of feelings, emotions, and maybe even some reservations. How many of us stop to think about our parents and how this change affects them?
What I know now
At the time, I didn’t think twice about how my parents were feeling and I really regret that now, because I’m sure it was hard for them. Having your child be around everyday for eighteen years, and watching them grow, learn, and become an adult must be such an amazing experience. Only to watch them leave the nest and fly on their own probably leads to a whole new set of emotions and anxieties. In truth, we all deal with change differently. Some of us embrace it without hesitation, while others are overwhelmed with feelings and sometimes a void that takes time to fill. Many parents don’t know until that day comes how they’ll feel but it’s a part of the process of raising children to go out into the world and make their way.
Asking the questions, parents want to know
I reached out to two parents who have experienced this journey first hand. Both moms expressed their feelings about the transition. The good and the bad. Having multiple children leave the nest left them feeling anxious, but four years later they both look back on the process and the lessons they learned along the way.
Q: Did you attend college, or have an idea of what your student was getting into?
Parent 1: I went to Delta so I had no idea what to expect when she went away to CMU. I was working on Orientation Day so I had no clue about the expense and how student loans worked, etc. We were totally caught off guard.
Parent 2: Yes, I had an idea, but then again college is much different now.
Q: What expectations did you have for your child as they prepared to leave for college?
Parent 1: I had hopes that she would have a great college experience… living on campus, making new friends, doing well in classes. At that time, she was still going for Veterinary MED, so I was thinking she was in for the long haul.
Parent 2: I expected them to have a typical “college experience.” To meet new people and to study hard.
Q: Did you talk about keeping in touch, or when you would visit each other?
Parent 1: No. Not really. I knew we would text each other all the time & call when we wanted.
Parent 2: No.
Q: When you think back to this time what emotions was your child experiencing?
Parent 1: Excitement, anxiety, nervous, and happy.
Parent 2: My child was excited but nervous about the new adventure.
Q: What was the transition like for you and your student?
Parent 1: Move-in day was very hectic and exciting. It was an adjustment for her to be completely on her own and independent from home, not to mention, adjusting to living with roommates.
Parent 2: I was sad and felt alone but my child was happy to be free.
Q: How did you prepare for these changes?
Parent 1: We shopped for school supplies and dorm living. Otherwise we were not very prepared. We just dealt with it as it happened
Parent 2: I didn’t really prepare.
Q: What did you struggle with the most when sending your student off to college?
Parent 1: The financial cost.
Parent 2: Finding things to fill my time.
Q: Did you worry about the pressure and physical/mental demands that college entails?
Parent 1: I wouldn’t say I worried, but I hoped she would get along well with living with two other girls due to the fact that they didn’t really know each other. I felt confident that she would be able to handle the class load and academic demands.
Parent 2: Of course, I wanted all of my children to be happy and not become overwhelmed.
Q: Was it hard coming to the realization that your student was going to have a new sense of freedom that they never had before like for example staying out late, not going to class, etc.?
Parent 1: No. She is a very responsible type of person. I knew she would not skip classes unnecessarily and would be able to handle responsibilities and herself well.
Parent 2: No. Both of my children were responsible.
Q: What words of advice would you give to parents who have children that are getting ready to go to college?
Parent 1: They should have their kids apply for scholarships! They should take basic classes at a community college where the credits transfer into the college they want to go to.
Parent 2: Find a hobby and let go. Let God. It’s going to be ok.
Q: What do you think was helpful in preparing your student for the real world?
Parent 1: Instilling good values and confidence, work hard, follow the rules, do what you have to do to get the job done, and be responsible. Golden rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you!
Parent 2: How to communicate and to be confident.
Q: What helped your cope with your child leaving for college?
Parent 1: Staying busy, work, our other children at home.
Parent 2: My husband. We leaned on each other.
Q: Did the dynamic change between you and your student?
Parent 1: Sort of…she started to appreciate me more. Not having me around and having to do everything for herself, she didn’t take me for granted as much.
Parent 2: Yes. They became strong individuals.
Q: How did you embrace it?
Parent 1: I don’t know…I guess I welcomed the opportunity for her to go off and experience college life and all the different aspects of it.
Parent 2: I tried to accept their new-found independence.
Q: Do you have any regrets about the transition?
Parent 1: I would have asked more questions to get more information.
Parent 2: No.
Q: What did you learn about yourself throughout the journey?
Parent 1: That’s tough…I guess that I could take pride in the job I had done in raising a daughter to be independent and confident to go off on her own to college.
Parent 2: I shouldn’t worry so much, and should take more time to be selfish.
Meghan Lupo is a senior currently enrolled at Northwood University where she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business administration with a major in Marketing. Throughout her college career she was hesitant about solidifying her decision to pursue business, but the decision became very easy after a few business classes that left a lasting impression on her. As a student-athlete, mentor, and someone who has experienced the trials and tribulations college entails she is ecstatic to be a part of our team and share her journey with others in order to help them grow, excel, and enjoy all that college has to offer.