Should Students Expect College to Be Like Home

Going back a decade or so, college used to be the definitive cut-off point from home for students. It was that point in a student’s life after which they would be expected to start making their own decisions, taking responsibility for their actions and ensuring their needs are met. If need arose, they had their peers to rely on.

But with the passage of time, and growth of technology to be particular, the loss of connection between parents and children at the time of college does not seem to happen anymore. What we see more often is that parents are constantly in touch with every little detail of their college-going children’s lives. Some parents would go even so far as to helping students out with their coursework.

The traditional belief that college is supposed to be a time for self-exploration is losing its value to technology. The period of adolescence has extended and many college students are not exposed to the same kind of experiences that those before them were. A constant connection on emails, text messages, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. has bridged the communication gap that contributed greatly to the learning outcomes of a complete college experience.

Here are a few reasons why students (and parents) should not expect college to be like home:

College is a period of self-discovery:

All through their lives up till high school, students are told by their parents about what they need to do and things they ought to stay away from. During this time, young minds have the opportunity of drawing lessons from the experiences of their parents. But come the college years, and these children are all set to move on into a time of self-discovery. College years are when people start finding out more about themselves in terms of interests, hobbies, preferences and principles.


In a span of a few years, depending on the degree, college turns children into adults. It is an important growth period with the ideal mix of independence and supervision. This nurtures the perfect amount of growth in students who are ready to step out from under the protective wings of their parents, but not quite prepared for the ruthlessness of the reality of the world – hence the transition period of growth that is college.

Confidence Development:

When on their own, students learn to speak up for themselves and develop a kind of confidence that they are unable to in their younger years. This is especially true for students, who live in dorms – by taking care of all the little details and requirements themselves, they become a lot more confident in various capacities. For instance, having to manage yearly finances and taking care of the amount of expenditures and income instills a certain sense of self-reliance and poise among these developing minds.

Independence and Responsibility:

College is the decisive break from parental supervision. During these years, the guidance and learning opportunities need to come from fellow students or experiences on campus. Trying on new ways of thinking about various aspects of life, in keeping with the fear of the unknown teaches these young minds a great deal about taking on new challenges, independently and coming out stronger. However, unlike high school, the comfortable cushion in case of failure is no longer present. You shall truly reap what you sow and this added sense of independence helps make students a lot more responsible and in control of themselves.

A time to learn from mistakes:

A lot of parents sending their kids to college find it hard to let go because they are afraid of the fact that their child might end up making mistakes – mistakes that could have easily been avoided through parental intervention. That is where they are wrong. No amount of guidance or ‘sharing of experiences’ can truly teach children a ‘magical’ way of never making mistakes. In fact, mistakes and experiences are the best teachers. Without making their own set of mistakes, these young adults would not get the kind of exposure that they need to in their college years. Indeed there will be a lot of drinking, experimentation with drugs, and of course those few absolutely unnecessary romantic flings – they will all happen, like they happened to the parents in their time. But it must be understood that parents need to let their children make these mistakes and learn from them while in college so that they are better prepared to not make them in the real world.

Time to learn to navigate through the social community:

A college community is very different from a typical family setup. This is why many students initially struggle for that sense of belonging and a meaningful community of friends. There is no set formula about finding the right kind of group of friends. Things settle in with time and the first few months of college are likely to be very difficult for a large part of the student population. Making out of this time successfully, is what will give student an initial understanding of how to navigate in the social community. Then there will be countless times where social interactions will teach you various lessons about the kind of people you encounter in the world. With more and more colleges now welcoming large scores of international students, diversity in one’s social community becomes a good way to learn about the types of people, cultures and traditions that are common to a world previously unknown to young minds.

Expecting college to be like home and hence working towards to making the whole experience as ‘homely’ as possible, would not give you the kind of exposure you should ideally get from these 4 years. The whole idea is to move out of home and discover yourself, rather than clinging on to your family and not letting yourself experience university life in its true essence. So whether you are the parent of a student going off to college, or a student just finishing high school and expecting to start college soon, you should not expect college to be like home – for good reason.


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