A farewell to college students

The adjustment and feelings of family members following the sad goodbye


A former Battlefield student moving into her dorm at Virginia Tech with the help of her siblings. Photo by Karen Millerson

Madison Miller, Author

When August rolls around it is not only time to go back to school and work, but a goodbye to all the college students. This is a traumatic time for parents and siblings who are left at home feeling an overwhelming mix of relief, sadness, and excitement from their missing family member. It makes it hard for families to continue on with their normal daily activities when they are missing a huge puzzle piece of their lives.

Many parents struggle to let go, siblings feel lonelier, and friends miss seeing their best friends. It is a huge adjustment and life-altering event that affects more than the college students themselves and resulting in families finding new ways to cope. Dr. Brad Sachs, a family psychologist, suggests different ways to carry on after the college drop off. Sachs says in his article, Campus Living: Saying Goodbye to Your College-Bound Teen, “When they leave, parents have to rebalance their lives and seek other sources of gratification. Focus on work or pick up an old hobby.” This can help take their minds off of it and makes them take time to do things for themselves. After all, they have spent most of their life providing for their children. This can be a good time for them to do activities that they enjoy such as, knitting, sewing, cooking, baking, working out, writing, and watching a tv show, etc.

Siblings especially feel the change after their lifelong buddy goes away. After 18 years of growing up with their older sister or brother, they are no longer right across the hallway. Younger siblings also rely on older siblings for help with homework and rides to school and other places. Losing all that at once can be very harsh and make things more inconvenient. In an article called, Proof There’s Nothing Quite Like A Sibling Bond,  Alena Hall states, “The connection is hard to describe in a single word. It’s the comfort felt when you sit in the same room with your brother and sister, in pure silence, yet you both know how the other is feeling. It’s picking up right where you left off, even if its been weeks, months or years since the last deep conversation. It’s the knowledge that, at the end of the day, you’ll always be able to call on that person for support.” It is It’s sad for younger siblings who have to goodbye to their role models and for the college students to say goodbye to their siblings that are quickly growing up without them around.

Many students at Battlefield had to say bye to siblings at the end of summer as well. It has been a rough and long month since then, as students learn to recoup. Junior Eden Kaplan talks about her experience after her brother left for Virginia Tech in early August. She says, “My brother and I gradually got closer and closer during his senior year. From the day he got into college until he left, every time I was with him I couldn’t help but get upset thinking about spending the year without him for the first time in my life. I spent as much time with him as possible.” It is always hard and feels surreal until they are actually all moved out. This especially affects close siblings who have always leaned on each other for support. Situations similar to this one are not only found in the Bobcat community but everywhere.

Saying goodbye is never easy but the college students are grown up and ready to start a life of their own. It is exciting to watch them do amazing things and succeed despite the hard feelings. It is important to think of it as a ‘see you later,’ not a forever goodbye.