Our daughter, Valerie, has a case of buyer’s remorse.
Steve moved Valerie into her dorm room at Chapman University in Southern California six days ago and she is questioning her decision to go away to college.
“Oh my gosh, what was I thinking? I’m living with total strangers, I miss my room, my friends and I really miss the cats. Maybe Chapman isn’t worth what it is costing me in student loans and going to the JC and living at home wouldn’t have been so bad after all.”
Plus, she is shocked because she thought that Chapman attracted smart kids, yet there are freshman doing stupid things like drinking to the point of passing out at the orientation dance and setting off the fire alarms in the dorm. How high school can you get?
Unfortunately, I can’t speak to her from personal experience about the process of going away to college because I lived at home the entire time I was in school. When I finally did move out, I wasn’t “moving to” San Francisco as much as I was “escaping from” Salt Lake City.
Steve, however, can relate his experience of enlisting in the army to what Valerie is going through now. He told her how he remembers waking up on Day Two of basic training and thinking, “What have I gotten myself into? How am I going to make it through 1,094 more days of this?”
He told her that things seem bleak because absolutely everything is new to her. There isn’t one aspect of her daily routine that is the same as it was a week ago. And just because her fantasy of meeting her roommates and having instant BFFs didn’t happen doesn’t mean that she isn’t in a good place and won’t find lifelong friends.
Steve went on to tell her that basic training – which is meant to make your life hell – wasn’t that all that bad once he made some buddies and settled into the routine. He is certain that her time at Chapman –a place where she is valued or they wouldn’t have given her a scholarship – will be very positive. She just needs to give it more than a week. Once she starts going to art class and joining some clubs that interest her, she is certain to meet other kids with the same sensibilities and she will feel like she fits in.
In the meantime, I’m going to take the advice of parents who have been through the process of sending kids off to college and send Valerie regular care packages stuffed with photos of kitties, art supplies and protein bars. And instead of phone calls that can turn into whine-fests from her, we’ll stick with sending texts and chatting on FaceBook so I can be encouraging while keeping some distance between us. It won’t help her if we talk on the phone and I get sucked into the same depressed place that she is.
We feel confident that she is on a path that will lead to many good things over the next four years; however, the first few steps can be a little rocky.