I am a first year student at RIT and I have been confronted with a slight problem of homesickness, only in my case, the problem is my parents’ and not mine. I am an only child and my parents have been dreading the whole event of me “moving out” since the start of my sophomore year in high school. They have visited me almost every other weekend and my mother calls me at least three times a day just to say hi (she has my schedule and knows when I’m not in class). It’s gotten to the point where I have to lie, telling them that “I am too busy and I don’t have time for you to visit this weekend.” They are concerned that I am not making friends, but how can I? I’m entertaining them all the time. Please help me! I like my parents; I just want some independence.
- Needa Crowbar
It sounds like your parents are probably suffering from empty nest syndrome (ENS). With ENS comes feelings of sadness and loneliness, as well as what you’re experiencing from your parents — the need to excessively keep in touch.
I know you said the problem is your parents’ and not yours, but you’re the key to their recovery. Encourage your parents to go out with friends or each other so they’re not spending all their free time driving you to various activities.
You shouldn’t deter your college life, or cater to them so that they can visit all the time either. You’re an adult and you’re at college to learn to be self-sufficient, and to get an education. If you’re out busy playing sports, involved in clubs, or just hanging out with new friends, your parents will eventually realize that you’re doing okay, and will, in theory, back off.
It may help to tell your parents a specific time that you will call them. Let them know that you blocked out a portion of your day to talk and if they call at a different time you won’t be able to answer. When talking to your parents, make sure to tell them about new people you have met, things you’re doing, and what you’ve become involved in. This will once again give them reassurance that you’re surviving on your own. On top of this you can send them random emails, telling them something interesting and asking them about what is going on back home. This will show that you are still thinking of them.
Lastly, remind them that RIT holds a parent weekend every year, Brick City, for parents to come and take part in their children’s college lives. Invite them to this explaining they can meet some of your friends’ parents, see what you’re up to, and partake in events tailored to families.
Otherwise, if they really insist on visiting, limit it, as you’ll already be going home once a quarter on break in November, December, and March.
So I'm a part time student here, finishing my degree that got put on hold for personal reasons a while back. I'm 37 years old, and needless to say, the oldest student in class. I try to talk to people to ease the weirdness of being a guy that could be friends with their dad (I look old for my age on top of everything else), but with little success. Some days it bums me out, and others it just makes me laugh, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how I could be “cooler” so kids will feel comfortable treating me like a fellow student and not their principal. Maybe you guys can even do an installment of "Old Guys on Campus." I'd totally be down for that. Do kids still say “down?”
Old Guy with Wrinkles
It’s obviously tough to be an older student, but I commend you for coming back and finishing your degree.
I’m unclear on your intentions; do you want to make friends to hang with? Find some study partners? Or is it really all about this “weirdness” you feel?
As far as the other students in your class go, I really wouldn’t worry about them. The ones who don’t mind being friends with an older gentleman will probably gravitate to you, or when you try to talk to them some will reciprocate more than others.
Don’t let it get you down though. Most students are 16 to 19 years younger than you; they’re not in the same place in their lives as you are even though you’re attending college at the same time. More often than not they’re probably thinking they’ll have nothing in common with you. Prove them wrong.
Keep engaging others in conversation and eventually you’ll find someone to complain about classes with — maybe even someone who still says “down.”
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