Guest Post: The Departing for College Dilemma

A soon-to-be first year college student from the West Coast, reflects on her experience preparing to move to an East Coast college.

Having attended high school in Reno, Nevada, I was influenced by peers who desired to attend college locally and many adults who graduated from the University of Reno, Nevada. I am one of the few students attending college on the East Coast. Before this summer, I wanted to leave this city to start my life somewhere else, somewhere much bigger, more diverse than Reno. Yet, now that my college journey is about to unfold in two weeks, I have doubt.

I can’t seem to comprehend the fact that I am moving 2,500 miles away from my home to attend college. I know that I should start buying my dorm room essentials and start packing up my room for college. I need to be brave enough to face the reality of the “move in” day creeping towards me. However, I am currently spending my days stuck in a three way tug of war, between my family, friends, and myself. 

My desperation to hold onto every moment I have left here with the people who matter to me the most has been a rather daunting experience. I knew that my summer before college was always meant to be “bittersweet,” but as of now, there was more bitter than sweet with every single decision I made. 

With time running out, the word “last” torments my every experience. Every moment I am outside, my mind is jammed with thoughts such as, “Is this my last time in this store, is this my last time driving down this road, is this my last time seeing them?” As I was horrified by the possibility that “last” could soon become reality with my loved ones, I wanted to spend every moment with those around me, which spiraled into this panic of me jamming people into my schedule. Soon, “breakfast with this person at 9 am, lunch with my other friend at 1 pm, and then come home for family dinner… wait, no, actually I have a dinner party with my friends tonight” became my daily routine. 

With every opening in my packed schedule, I am suddenly lost in guilt carefully deciding with whom to spend time. Will my day be filled with spending countless hours with my best friends as we try to make the most of our time left with each other, or will I spend time with my family, who filled my life with love? The choices laid out to me every single day are rather like two poison bottles, leaving me in pain with either choice.

However, there’s one more choice to this game of “this or that” which I have overlooked. With every choice I make, I am giving up time for myself. I purposefully avoided choosing time for myself not only because I didn’t know how to fully grasp that I was leaving, but also because I didn’t want to accept the truth of me having to leave my life behind. I became frustrated just by the mention of the word “college” close to me. I wanted to avoid the anxiety associated with that word. If I chose to face the truth, I would eventually accept that change is a constant, a truth I was ready to accept.

I believed that if I distanced myself from my emotions, locked them deep enough so they would never see the light of day, I would spend the last couple weeks with a smile on my face. Turns out with so little time left here with my friends and family, the fears I’ve contained for so long began to surface. 

I am not ready to call Reno “My Childhood Town”. I am not ready to face my last day here with my friends whom I’ve spent every school day with for years of my life. I am not ready to move out of my parents’ house and begin my own life. And I am not ready to fall asleep, waking up to another day where I have to say another goodbye to one of my treasured memories here in Reno.

With time quickly fading away, I became exhausted by the emotions and wished I had the easy way out. I began to wonder, “What if I chose to stay here for college?” Although I know that I would’ve never let myself stay here, a part of me longed for the comfort of having the people I loved just a ten minute car ride away. 

I’ve always been the person who is prepared, but was I blindly jumping into college away from the people I’ve lived with all my life?  However, if I stayed here, I would at least be comfortable with the place and people around me and possibly be more prepared than moving to the East Coast. 

I believed that the easy way out was to wish for something that wasn’t possible anymore, which was me staying in Reno for college. Wishing for the unattainable path of staying here for college, I soon realized that although the easy way out appears to be the more favorable option, I won’t gain anything from this path in the long run. 

I am beginning to realize that change is necessary to gain greater understanding, thus grief and disruption is inevitable.  I am still scared to face the college experience. I’m also certain that this fear of being lost and unsure of what will happen next will never go away. I may never be fully ready for my next journey, whether that is college, graduate school, jobs, or life in general. However, my summer before college has gifted me an important mindset. 

Yes, change is difficult, disruption is almost never pleasant, but in the midst of all this loss is a new path, created with the memories of my past and present, waiting for me to explore and branch out into the world of greater understanding.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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