Dear Parent of a soon-to-be college freshman, you have spent the last few months hearing family and friends bestow many good wishes upon your child as they embark on this new and exciting chapter of their life. Your graduating seniors have been told by countless adults that college will be some of their finest and most fun-filled years, and they’ve been wished the best of luck. I hope that your child has basked in all of this love and good will, and that they are truly optimistic about the year ahead.
As a Mom who is about to send my child back for year two of college, I also wish your child many good things. But I will be honest – I am sending these unpleasant wishes as well:
My 5 Not-so-Nice Wishes for Your College Freshman
1. Difficult Roomate
I hope they start off with a somewhat difficult roommate. Not a horrible person who steals their clothes or tries to physically harm them, but who is perhaps quite thoughtless of those around them. A selfish roommate who is too loud, spends hours Skyping their boyfriend or girlfriend every night, leaves half eaten food and wrappers all over the room, or accidentally knocks your kid’s things off the walls on a regular basis.
I hope that these actions force your college freshman to become a better communicator and negotiator and that they develop a greater understanding of different personalities and an increased capacity to not sweat the small stuff. I hope they grow to either befriend their roommate, or learn to live in peaceful civility.
2. Minor Medical Issue
I hope they have to deal with a minor medical issue all on their own. Perhaps they ignore a cold and it turns into a painful sinus infection. I hope they procrastinate from going to student health long enough that they find themselves wishing they had listened to a parent who told them to take better care of themselves. I hope they quickly come to realize that yes, sleep and exercise and eating healthy foods most of the time really does make a lot of sense. I hope your college freshman becomes comfortable talking to medical professionals in an honest and mature way, and they begin to think about their health with a preventative mindset.
3. Poor Grade
I hope they receive their first C on a difficult test or paper – particularly the student who never got less than an A – during the span of high school. I hope they spend some thoughtful time feeling bad about that grade, and taking the time to make some changes so that there is less likelihood of it happening again. And maybe it will happen again, and I hope they realize that it’s definitely not the end of the world.
4. Lost and Found (We hope!)
I hope that they lose something important or essential while they are far away from the immediate assistance of a parent – a cell phone, their laptop, or keys and ID. I hope that they have to be resourceful and calm during a time when they just want to break down and freak out. I hope that they seek out help from the appropriate campus services which do exist to assist them. I hope that they reach out to friends and mentors and realize how important it is to have meaningful connections with the people around them. And, I hope they become a little more responsible for their own stuff!
5. Drunk Friend
Lastly, I hope your college freshman is called upon to deal with an incapacitated friend. I hope they have an ugly encounter with stupid behavior, get puked on, and see how vulnerable someone becomes when they lose control because of too much alcohol or drugs. I hope this makes them think twice about reaching that point themselves, and I hope they further realize how important it is to surround yourself with caring people you can trust.
It’s practically a given that your child will experience at least one of these issues during their freshman year of college. When they call you with a quivering voice or perhaps already in tears, my wish for you, dear parent, to remind them to breathe, and offer a calm reassurance that they can handle it. And they will.