When our daughter was a senior, we went to Boston for the last parent’s weekend. Most seniors don’t have parents visit for parent’s weekend – after 3 years in college, it seems kind of silly to be the wide-eyed visitors, which we weren’t. But my daughter wanted us to meet her friends and we wanted to see our little girl, of course…only she wasn’t a little girl anymore, in any sense of the word.
Being on her turf, with her in charge – it made me both proud and sentimental at the same time. She made all the dinner and brunch reservations, guided us through the streets of Boston, and generally took charge of our visit. It was a pleasure to let her make all the plans, but I couldn’t help thinking…where had my little girl gone?
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I was – and am – thrilled to have such a self-sufficient, independent and confident young woman for my daughter. Even so, I couldn’t help remembering the night we dropped her off at the dorms for her freshman year, after all of the shopping and moving and unpacking was done. She was such a wreck as we drove away, scared and crying and all alone, standing in the parking lot of her enormous dorm where 1800 freshmen would spend the year. As overwhelmed as she was, I was probably more so – saying goodbye to my little girl, leaving her to find her way, to learn to live with a stranger for a roommate, make friends, and become part of the big, urban campus that is Boston University. But find her way she did -with a few requisite bumps in the road, both large and small. During college, she traveled through Europe, spoke at admissions sessions up and down the west coast, joined a sorority, and had 2 internships, all while maintaining good grades and (mostly) staying positive, happy and enthusiastic. I suppose somewhere inside of me I knew she’d be ok as we drove away that night, but still- nothing is ever certain.I couldn't help thinking...where had my little girl gone? #college #graduationClick To Tweet
The weekend was wonderful. We met her friends and went to the Founder’s Day ceremony for her sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi. Every senior I talked to that weekend said she wished she wasn’t graduating, that college was wonderful and the prospects in the real world were kind of terrifying.
I hate to even say “when I was in college,” but, when I was in college, jobs were easy to find, careers were long-term, and there was the sense of opportunity – even for me, an English major. When my daughter graduated in 2012 (and I believe this is true still), it was nothing short of miraculous to hear of a recent graduate who not only had a job, but, even more difficult, was able to fully support him or herself on their salary. So many well-educated young people wind up having to live at home, cobbling together some sort of living out of part time jobs and help from their parents. I don’t believe that millennials, at least based on my experience, is entitled and lazy, as so many politicians, bloggers and editorial writers have suggested. I think they’re motivated, with big dreams and a lot of great experience and enthusiasm. It’s a shame that the world that awaits them makes it so difficult to hold on to all of that.