Off to College?

Updated on May 11, 2010
J.A. asks from Bethesda, MD
7 answers

Hi ladies,
Yesterday I had a discussion with "Sarah" about her oldest daughter going to college. My friend was very exited about the fact that they will let their daughter skip her first semester as freshman in college. Her father is a professor and their daughters being home schoolers have been taking advantage to travel when dad can teach abroad. Next fall will be the oldest first year in college but her dad got a grant to go in those school/ships trips, where students travel in a cruise while professors teach them on board, for a semester. They've done it before, so I told my friend that it sounded excited that they would be able to do it again with their other daughter, but then she told me that even her oldest was going.... I asked her if she wasn't concerned about the fact that her oldest daughter was going to miss out the opportunity to bond with new college students, since they are kind of shy and particular about friends. She got a little upset, but I just point out in how important the first year in college is for their development. I even asked her, joking, if she was ready to let her go yet. I know they are very committed to their daughters, homeschooling them all the way to high school, but regardless of their situation, which made me think of it, Is missing the very first semester of college is not that important in now days as before? When my nice started college she had a surgery that made her miss a couple of months and took online courses, but the dean of her college was concerned about her not being there at the beginning of the semester......


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So What Happened?

Thanks to all of you, I have a different perspective on this subject. I had my degree abroad, so there is no comparison to the education in the States. Some of our friends and relatives went to a small private colleges; Amherst, Duke, Williams, Swarthmore, etc., so I got their perspective and emphasis they are putting on their kids.
To clarify some of what I said before, I did not intended bug nor get "Sarah" upset. And the "joke" was something that we always say to each other. I guess she got a little upset because she's also received negative feedback from their family and friends lately. Their daughter will be attending Duke.
Thank you all!

More Answers


answers from Chicago on

I don't see how any of this is your business. I would stop bugging her about it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't think it's that big of a deal. She'll be fine. Sounds like her family is trying hard to provide a lot of good academic experiences for their kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Unless she's rushing a sorority... she won't be missing out on anything. People are constantly coming and going all year, every year,... typically over the breaks, and then 1/2 the student body changes Junior year as all the transfer students shift. Add in that very few colleges require that freshmen live on campus (they just don't have the space), and a major chunk of her classmates won't even be on campus except for class. Frosh classes are HUGE, so you don't tend to make friends there. One reason why most non-greeks tend to not really form close friendships for the first 1-2 years, until they hit their major and are in smaller more specialized classes. Of course, if she's been HS'ing she may well be matriculating at a 200-300 level. Which only means that she'll have even more of an opportunity to make friends, since she'll be in smaller classes. But it doesn't matter WHEN she gets into the 6 - 40 person class size (fall, winter, spring, summer)... just that when she does, she's going to be immersed in those people.

If anything, she'll have more of a chance to bond with the students that will be on her father's trip (most of the profs I know who teach abroad are teaching to the Universities students that are going on the trip), than she would in some randomly assigned dorm or 300 person intro class... since she'll study abroad programs the students/ profs/ & profs families tend to get really "tight". (It's very very common for profs to travel with their kids for quarter abroad programs).

EDIT : So the main reason why school admin is nervous about students missing the first semester is mostly because it messes with their washout rate. A certain percentage of students wash out after fall quarter, and the schools all count on that. Just like they send out acceptance letters to more kids than they have space for. It's a statistics thing. As well as the fact that missing the first quarter means they can't admit a waitlisted student if their numbers are low. Ditto they assign extra staff to the 100 level classes, dorm assignations are made in the fall, etc. So it's mostly an admin thing. It's easier on them for a student to wash out fall quarter than it is for them to wash out winter quarter. Same token, a student CAN'T miss the first couple weeks of a quarter/semester. They can miss the whole thing, but you have to get instructor approval for entry mid quarter, as it's almost impossible for a student to catch up midway through a course... and it creates a lot of headaches for profs.



answers from Indianapolis on

It's probably a very personal decision for them - for me, college was an experience that I didn't want to miss, but I know not everyone feels the same.

I was able to go to school my freshman year, but finances kept me out my sophomore year. I worked 3 jobs to get back, and before I returned, I received an amazingly generous offer from one of my employers to work full time (he considered it 30 hours/week with full benefits). I turned it down because I wanted to "experience" college. But, not everyone feels the same.

If I were their friend, I would probably feel the same as you because of my personality. But, I married a man who grew up in a bubble and followed that bubble until he graduated from college. His parents did a phenomenal job bringing them up, but they were very sheltered from the real world and only knew what the church community offered. Even college was an extension of the church community.

Now at 35 he has chosen a different life for himself and us, but his parents don't understand why he doesn't want to emulate how they brought him up.

I think the situation you describe is simply looking at life through two different sets of lenses.

I hope that helps.


answers from Dallas on

GO Duke!! My hubby got his MBA there. Great school. Our daughter plans to get her business degree there.


answers from Fresno on

I went to a university that had a 4-quarter, year-round academic year, of which each student was expected to attend 3 quarters. You could choose which quarter you wanted to miss, so that you could do things like attend an exchange quarter abroad, or have an internship at a business, or whatever. Because of this, it was entirely possible to never meet some of the other people in your graduating class. Honestly, it doesn't matter. Kids' interests change so much during college that the people they're friends with during freshman year may not be the people they're friends with senior year. If these kids have a chance to study abroad, they should do it in my opinion. It is such a life-changing experience. They have the rest of their lives to be stuck in one place! =)



answers from New York on

Interesting question...

I would suggest that this would be similar to transferring as a sophomore to a new school. Depending on the school, many offer "orientation" opportunities for students who transfer after the freshman year.

The first year of college for "development"- is a very generalized way of looking at the situation. For many children, it's their first long-term experience being away from home, doing laundry, managing their own time, etc. While I would recommend that this student experience her first year with her peers, there is no reason why she would be ostracized for starting during her second year, especially if it is a large school.

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