I’m sure I heard the phrase “that was way sadder than I expected” thrown around at least ten times as I was gathering my books and preparing to leave school on February 2. Michael Thompson, psychologist and author of multiple books, came to speak to the high school that day and carried with him countless insights on the thoughts of high schoolers and their parents. For the juniors and seniors, the discussion revolved around college topics such as the stress of applications, the feelings of parents, and moving out for the first time.
Somehow both humorous and sobering, Dr. Thompson asked students about theoretical situations – “What if you didn’t get into your top choice, or your second choice?” Responses ranged from shrugs to proclamations of devastation. He warned against getting too bogged down in applications and acceptances. It isn’t the college that defines you; it’s what you do with the time you spend there and the myriad of opportunities to which you will be given access. You can be happy at your first choice college, or your second – and even your third – if you choose to be happy there.
Many students don’t realize that, while moving away to college is a huge step for the college-bound student, it is just as life-altering for the parents. Dr. Thompson asked about changes in parents’ behavior. While some students were being pampered and brought food, others were being forced early on into self-sufficiency. We were all just glad that none of our parents had made us “move out” of the house and into a room above the garage to prepare for college life. The sobering – though informative – talk ended with all the students thinking about what we would miss the most: our friends, our family, our beds. I have no doubt quite a few people walked out already starting to miss those things.
Personally, I walked out with a very chilling story, told by Dr. Thompson, still reverberating around my mind. “A student stood up in the back of my talk a few months ago, and said: I think I will miss home most when one night, after studying late in the library, I will walk back across a dark campus, through a dark hallway, into my dark dorm room, and open the fridge… only to find it completely empty.”