Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preparing for the College Transition

In one week, we drop off our daughter to Tufts University so she can began the next era of her life as a college woman.

All of us have been preparing.

High School is a time of many emotions - high highs and low lows.   It's about discovering independence, making choices, accepting responsibility, developing relationships, and balancing parental authority with the desire for autonomy.

More is expected of today's teens than in my generation.  It's very stressful on a young person.

In one week, she'll make decisions on her own.  She'll decide what to eat (and drink), when to study, and who to spend her time with.

Over the past few weeks, she's thought about her transition in a very spiritual way.

I did not approach my college transition formally.   I packed my clothes and typewriter the night before and we drove from Los Angeles to Stanford for the drop off.     That was 31 years ago this week.

She realizes that she has to prepare for this new era while bringing closure to her childhood growing up in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

She has thought about all her Wellesley relationships.   She's scheduled events with every one of her friends to create positive memories and energy before they go their separate ways.    She's arranged hikes, picnics, movies, meals, and sleepovers.

She's taken private walks to her favorite places in Wellesley.    She's also made a conscious decision not to visit many of the places she treasured when very young so that she can remember them as they were from a child's point of view.

Yes, she'll stay in touch with friends on Facebook, but that will fade as she develops new relationships, new interests, and new goals.   The closure she's bringing now will leave lasting memories among all her friends, creating a sense of optimism and energy for the future ahead.

My wife and I know that next Wednesday will be hard.   We'll bring our daughter's carefully packed belongings (4 small bins that will fit perfectly in a cozy dorm room) to her new living space, set up her IT infrastructure (the home CIO at your service), and attend a formal matriculation ceremony.   My wife and I will give her the space she needs to bond with her new colleagues and we'll retreat to a quiet vegan cafe to reflect on the next era in our lives.

We've already planned a few short trips together.  My wife will join me for keynote addresses in Burlington Vermont, Phoenix Arizona, and London England.    We've already planned a family get together on Mt. Monadnock over Columbus Day weekend.    We've thought about the next few months and years as we've considered the implications of staying close to our daughter, our parents, and our jobs.

The end result is a solid plan that will launch all of us into the next stage of life.   For my daughter, it's adulthood.   For my wife and I, it's a refocus on each other, the world around us, and our careers.   The past 18 years with our daughter have been a gift, but the next era will be positive for all of us too.   Our evolution begins next Wednesday.


Unknown said...

I'm with you my fiend. It is time to turn another page and doing so is bittersweet.
Today we are finishing up on the packing, inviting friends and family over to say farewell, enjoying a nice home cooked meal together, get a bit of sleep and head to Storrs tomorrow morning at 5AM. Our youngest son Jimmi is heading off to the UCONN School of Business where, as you put so well, will begin a new life, with new friends, new challenges, new opportunities and of course, new temptations.
Jimmi brings such joy to our lives every day and provides us with his comic relief after a long day at work. We’re quite fortunate that he has not shunned us like the plague as so many teens can when they begin to test the boundaries and limits of parental advice.
So as the cartons and boxes move past us and I collaborate with HuskyTech on the network deployment in the dorm room, I will be keeping a few Kleenex in my pocket and blame my allergies on a few tears that may roll down my face.
With any luck Irene will find a new course and not take the path now projected over our home and up toward Storrs. Not the way any of us envisioned starting this new life
Warmest regards and congratulations.

Travis Rath said...

Very well thought out and insightful. My daughter will be in this same situation if two years, and I have already been reflecting on what it means to us, and her, and how we will deal with it.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like it will be a hard transition for you, as much as you make it sound positive. Letting go is never easy...Good luck.

GreenLeaves said...

All my children have been in college for the past 3 years and yes it is change when they are gone. But the joy and noise that accompanies their return is ever-present. The fun of meeting their new friends and seeing them develop into full adulthood is also an adventure I would not miss. I am looking ahead to the next phase when they start sharing their lives with another and will not necessarily be home for the major “family” holidays. And beyond that there is the hope to see the next generation of the family making their presence felt in our home.

Anonymous said...

I've gotten to live this vicariously through my friends children and I love this time in the young adult life. They seem to grow in leaps and bounds and become these amazing beings with their own thoughts, hopes, dreams and the newly discovered abiities to articulate them.

As an outsider looking in this is a wonderful time. Of course, I don't have the separation anxiety of the parents so it's easier for me to just enjoy the progress.

bruce said...

The most difficult thing for me
after we dropped our oldest child off for college -- was in the following weeks when I stopped by his room and could see that nothing had been touched, nothing at all --- then it really hit me that he was gone, really and irrevocably gone......