College students, parents find being home can be trying times

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By Carrie Wohlschlegel

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - You’ve heard the popular high school graduation sayings such as “spread your wings” and “soar to new heights.” For many, one of the most important aspects of graduation is entering college and leaving the nest. But what happens when college students must fly back to their nests during the summer months? 

How do they handle being home after spending almost an entire school year away at college? 

The readjustment back into a daily household routine, both for college students and their parents, can be difficult, but the following families prove that with mutual respect, responsibility, and with the acknowledgement of the college students’ need for independence, it is possible to not ruffle too many feathers during the summer months.  

Caroline Lee, a sophomore at the University of Evansville, has experienced the need for independence as well as structure in her first summer home from college. 

“In college I was responsible for myself, and when I’m home I have other people’s rules to follow,” said Lee.

Lee also acknowledges that her parents are not as strict. Lee can drive the family car more freely and no longer has a curfew.

“My parents understand that I have been independent for a while, so they are not as strict as they were when I was in high school.”

Although Lee enjoys her independence in college, she is also grateful for the structure and guidance provided at home.

“To me, ‘home’ is being back to reality and having guidance.  At school I felt like I could sometimes have too much freedom.”  

Lee recognizes that having both freedom and structure is a balancing act, and she is thankful for her experiences at college and at home:  “It’s very valuable to learn about myself and how I am going to live the rest of my life.”

Rob Daugherty, a junior at Eastern Kentucky University, believes that independence, trust, and responsibility go hand in hand. Daugherty believes that his parents treat him more like an adult since going to college.

“I say where I’m going and they don’t ask questions. They trust me when I’m away at school and they trust I do the same here.”  

Daugherty’s mother, June Daugherty, finds it easy to trust her son and remember his growing independence.

“As parents, it is our job to raise him and give him more responsibility and freedom as he gets older. College is just the next step. If we are doing our job, then they should be prepared for independence as they grow up.”

Although his family respects his personal schedule more than they did in high school, Daugherty believes the biggest challenge about coming home is trying to balance a social life, work, and spending time with family. He also must adjust to living with siblings and sharing:  “At home, what’s mine is theirs, and at school, what’s mine is mine.”

Daugherty finds the readjustment to living at home in the summer to be somewhat easy:  “The only thing I have to get used to is family events.  I can’t always sleep in when I want to.” 

Mrs. Daugherty agreed that one of the major adjustments was the sleep schedule.

“We didn’t have a curfew but he would wake me up when he came home late. When used to living on your own, it is difficult meshing back into the routine.”

She also states that this summer has been much easier to adapt to than Daugherty’s first summer home from college.

Ashley Buchanon, a senior at Campbellsville University, believes that one of the biggest challenges is following her parents’ schedule more than her own. This being her third summer home from college, Buchanon believes that her parents treat her differently than they did in high school because she has progressively developed more independence.

“Being away from home at school, I have realized I am growing up and I have more control over my life.”  

It does not take long for Buchanon to readjust to living at home.

“It’s easy, at least on my side.”

Part of the reason why it is so easy to readjust is because she reminds herself that while at home, “I am under their roof and have to abide by their standards. Their house, their rules.”

Buchanon’s mother, Kim Buchanon, also believes that there isn’t a big change in routine. She states, “Ashley hasn’t had trouble adapting to home; she has done a good job adapting each year.”

Mrs. Buchanon also believes that “Each summer it’s been easier to loosen the reins. I do try to remember that she is almost 21. She is her own person, but she is still my daughter.” 

Mrs. Buchanon shares advice she has learned: “Each time (college students) come home they are a little more independent. They are their own unique person; God made them that way. We need to remember to love them and respect their choices. That’s the only way they can grow.”

Hannah Cochran, a sophomore at Auburn University, has loved coming back home to her large family atmosphere. Although Cochran enjoys her freedom at school, she really missed her family and siblings during her time at Auburn.

Cochran was homeschooled in high school and “was used to doing everything” with her family. Cochran states, “When they talked about going places I felt like I missed out” while at school.

A key point that Cochran remembers while at home is that “When you come back home, your parents are still your parents and you still have your same rules. You have the choice to live there. Also, enjoy it because it goes by fast.”  

This summer, Cochran has much to enjoy at home, such as spending time with her two recently adopted little brothers from Ethiopia.

“I will be excited to see my friends and boyfriend more when I go back to school, but I really do love being home. Plus, with my new baby brothers, I will miss everything when I’m at school.”

Although Cochran is used to being surrounded by her family, she does not lack independence.

“My parents are really relaxed but I am personally more independent; my independence grew while I was away but I was always independent.”

Although the summer months can be difficult to adjust to for college students and their parents, with respect and the knowledge of progressing independence, college students can continue to grow and spread their wings.