It's that time of year again when U-hauls, filled with freshman essentials, line the streets of college campuses. Perhaps these essentials include photos of high school friends, a favorite childhood stuffed animal and the vital box of Kleenex to hand to the departing parents. While leaving home is one of the most significant milestones for a college-bound student, a change of location is generally not the only change realized on this journey.
Here, some readers reflect on the greatest change they experienced when they left for their respective universities.
At the age of 17, I decided it was time to get out of dodge, so I drove all the way to University of California, San Diego to made a new home for myself -- a 30 minutes away from my parents. Since I was so upset that my proximity to my parents was too close for comfort, I decided to pretend like they were thousands of miles away. Thank goodness cell phones had yet to become widely used! It wasn't until Thanksgiving that they got to see their emaciated daughter and I delighted them with tales of my frat party adventures. They audibly sighed in relief because they thought I was just a nerd who only studied all the time.
-- Emily Just, University of California, San Diego
hen I left for school my freshman year, I was a medium to big-ish fish in a small pond. When I got to Miami (a much bigger pond), I found that many of the things I had built my self-esteem/self-worth on didn't matter in this new environment or no longer existed. For example, it just didn't matter that I had a 4.0 in high school; there were thousands of other valedictorians there. The number of activities I was involved in high school didn't matter in college. Nobody knew of the great reputation I had in high school or that I came from a great family and certainly wouldn't care if they did. I no longer had a perfect body thanks to the freshman 15. Subsequently, my self-esteem, sense of self-worth and confidence were annihilated. I flopped around like a fish out of water for four years because I wasn't grounded. I have since learned to rebuild my foundation with more permanent characteristics and qualities.
-- Jami Stanforth-Choueiry, Miami University
High school was easy. College was not and required study habits that weren't previously developed. I took stretch classes and then learned about failure. My advice to my kids will be to take easier classes, such as the classes you had AP in during high school. This will help to develop study habits, gain confidence and allow time to adjust to all of the other changes in your life.
-- Ryan Schiller, University of Wisconsin
I was involved in team sports in high school. I had sports all year long, including summer leagues. When I went to a large university, I hung up my basketball, volleyball, softball and track shoes, and for the first time since 7th grade, I found myself not on a team at all. I missed the camaraderie. In addition, I had to figure out how to motivate myself to exercise without a coach yelling at me or making me do drills, all to avoid the infamous freshman 15.
-- Martha Pahs Schiller, University of Wisconsin
Kerry Pinto, who graduated from Miami University (Go Redhawks!), lives in Stafford with her husband and two kids.