For college Freshmen, there are few experiences as fraught with drama as that first return home after a semester away.
The Washington Post has a whole post instructing parents on what to expect from kids who have tasted sweet freedom and may chafe at the restrictions of their home existences. And the concern goes both ways:
A growing number of colleges are helping freshmen and their families navigate the fine art of learning to live together once again. Last week, George Washington University hosted a seminar for about 40 students on "Going Home: It will be different." The university's Office of Parent Services also sent a letter to parents explaining that their kids won't be the same people this semester - and probably will sleep a lot. Tips included: "Try not to remove all of the freedoms that your student has become accustomed to over the past few months. They have developed a new way of living, and reverting back to the 'old way' may cause stress." The letter ends with a couple of phone numbers to the school's Office of Parent Services that parents can call "if things get rough." At Washington and Lee, Leonard encourages parents to work with their children to set a calendar of events that everyone can agree on. Usually, students want to keep their college schedule - falling asleep in the wee hours of the morning and waking up late - and spend as much time as possible visiting friends.
Curfews and clashes over clothes — to say nothing of newly-acquired smoking habits, to be concealed or trotted out defiantly — are the least of it. There's the weirdness with that one friend who's gotten super pretentious, or the other one who just wants to act like everything's the same, or someone who won't stop talking about a new relationship. It's hard to shed the new identity you've developed on your own. Worst of all, of course, is the romantic strife — what's sometimes inelegantly known as the "turkey dump" — when high-school relationships that just months ago felt permanent meet their inevitable end.
The funny part is what a small space of time has actually elapsed to result in such seismic changes. In a matter of weeks, relationships have shifted and altered, maybe forever. But it's not all sturm and drang: there are upsides. Stocked fridges and free laundry have never been so sweet. And the good news is, by Christmas break, somehow everything's, magically, much less weird.