Going away to college is one of the best times for a student to assert his or her independence. Finally liberated from the grip of 18 years of parenting, a college student relishes in the opportunity to decide what to do and when to do it every single day. While many young adults lose touch with their parents when they venture off to school, seeing them as a hindrance to their newfound independence, there are some students who remain in close contact with their parents for a range of reasons.
Some students develop a remarkably strong bond with one or both parents during high school years. Kelly Tropin ’13 said that the time she and her mom spent going to horse shows is one reason why their relationship is so close.
“My mom really is one of my closest friends,” she said. “I feel like many college students feel like they have to hide part of their lives from their parents, but I tell my mom everything.”
Rachel Ofori ’14 also spent an unusually large amount of time with her mom growing up, especially when practicing for and participating in voice and dance competitions, she said.
“I started dancing at the age of two my whole life, she was the one who went with me to every practice and every competition,” Ofori said. “In the process, we just became best friends.”
Ofori also emphasized the value of her mother’s perspective on situations in her everyday life as a student at Dartmouth.
“I think coming to Dartmouth has made us close because our conversations count for more now,” she said. “I feel more comfortable telling her some of my problems than some of my friends because she can provide a different type of advice and perspective.”
The inconstant nature of the D-Plan also has an effect on many students’ relationships with their parents. Philippa Martinez-Berrier ’14 emphasized the impact her recent off-term in her hometown of San Antonio had on her relationship with her parents.
“I was always close with my parents I talked to them on the phone every day, and my dad and I write letters to each other,” she said. “We did grow a little more distant after I first arrived at Dartmouth freshman year, but after being home for a term, I’ve definitely become close to them.”
Martinez-Berrier also cited the importance of family dinners during her upbringing in keeping her close with her parents even in college.
“Every night we would sit down and talk about our day,” she said. “We talk every day now because that’s how it always was.”
Off-terms abroad can also strengthen the relationship between a student and her parents. Grace McDevitt ’14, who recently spent an off-term in Barcelona, said that her time away increased her contact with her parents a lot.
“When I was in Barcelona, I was really out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I called home a lot more because calling home made me feel more at ease.”
The physical displacement college brings can pull apart many relationships, though sometimes they can become stronger than they were before. Students who spent an unusually large amount of time spent with their parents growing up are used to maintaining a strong parent-child bond, while some students have always just been close with their family.
Some parents think keeping in touch with their children is so important that they create a rule. McDevitt was told by her parents before she left for college that she had to call at least once a week.
“When they threaten to not pay your tuition, you call home,” she said.
So sure, we gain some independence when we go away to college. Fine. But maybe that newfound college independence isn’t as complete as we thought.
Ofori is a member of The Dartmouth Business Staff.