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Aug 11 2015
by Heran Mamo

14 Struggles of Only Children Headed Off to College

By Heran Mamo - Aug 11 2015
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1. You have to call, text and FaceTime your parents more than other kids have to.

This is something you'll never avoid as an only child leaving the nest. Parents are crazy, but parents of only children are psycho. They want to know what you are doing 24/7, whether it's using the bathroom during an important lecture or attending a frat party they don't approve of. Yes, it sounds annoying, but the truth is that you'll want to talk to them as much as they want to talk to you. Whether it's a five-minute phone call before jetting off into the library or a 50-minute FaceTime session, both you and your parents will appreciate the long distance communication because it's the only way to cope with the pain of being away from home. 

2. They will automatically know if you're not doing well in school.

Unlike high school, your parents just can't check a grade portal to know that you actually bombed that biology test before you even do. Every college student has to sign the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA. This law allows students to grant their parents certain access to their education records. Even though it sounds like power to the little people, parents of only children are secretly telepathic and don't need confirmation from online records to know what's up. Sounds more like the Family Executional Rights and Punishment Act.

3. You can't bring a boy/girl home that first Thanksgiving break.

The first thing your parents want to see when you come back from school is YOU. As their pride and joy, you're their number one priority and in return, they expect to be on the top of your list too. If you come back with your new boo, then let your parents know ahead of time to make room for one more at the dining table. Surprises can be all fun and games, but when it comes to family matters, keep it simple and clean. Nothing says a better first Thanksgiving back home than having to explain to the police about your missing significant other along with the "cranberry sauce" mess on the floor.

4. You have to share a bedroom, actually everything, with a stranger...just let that sink in.

"Sharing" is found nowhere in the official only children dictionary, so forgive us if "borrowing a shirt" was just your idea of a simple request and not an invitation to our entire wardrobe. Starting from kindergarten, we learned that sharing meant caring and as freshmen in college, the anthem still rings true. Roommates are exactly what they sound like: people you live with. They don't have to be your absolute best friends, but don't start a bloodbath over your belongings. Set your own boundaries if it makes you feel comfortable, but know that your roommate would return your kind favors if you learn how to give them in the first place. 

5. Your alone time significantly decreases. 

Your bedroom used to be your ultimate safe haven. The peace and quiet soothed you after an exhausting day at school because you could finally be alone and let yourself be consumed by your thoughts. Unfortunately, there's an elephant in the room now, or at least that's what it feels like when your desire to be alone can't combat your roommate's obnoxious study habits. So find your special place on campus, whether it's the courtyard or by the fountain, where you can be by yourself for a bit. It'll allow you to de-stress from the day and clear your mind before filling it back up with equations and vocabulary terms.

6. Payments will come out of your own bank account.

Remember when you asked Daddy for another pony? Well, finances don't work that way in college so stop horsing around. Budgeting will be your new best friend as you learn to control your urge to splurge. If you're constantly asking your parents for more money, then you'll just end up as another BCBG: banging college broke girl/guy.

7. It'll be 10:30 p.m. at a party and you won't stop looking down at your phone, waiting all night for your parents' paranoid texts that might actually come. 

As an only child, you could never have "chill" parents that let you go out all the time. Being under their wing made them feel more secure about your whereabouts, but leaving the nest doesn't grant you permission to turn up Every. Single. Night. Don't go out of control with your new found freedom because that telepathy thing? Yeah, it's real. You won't get those frenzied texts or crazed voicemails early in the night anymore, but you might still be experiencing the trauma of performing the "walk of shame" for your angry, worried parents. The good thing about college is that you left the parents at home, but the "walk of shame" follows you at every party.

8. There's no one on campus to take care of you like Mommy and Daddy did. 

It's times like catching a cold or dealing with a dilemma that makes you wish your parents were with you. They always knew how to take care of their baby, but you're not a baby anymore. Being a college kid means growing up (not too fast) and knowing what it's like to take care of yourself. If you're really in trouble, calling or even visiting your parents isn't such a bad idea, but you're smart enough to figure out the little things for yourself. You had the best teachers for Surviving Life 101.

9. Fighting with a sibling was never an issue, but when it comes to fighting with your roommate, you have no practice.

Being an only child meant getting your way 100 percent of the time, whether your parents like to admit it or not. No brothers or sisters could bring you down from the limelight, but roommates can be a little sour. Contracts don't guarantee the perfect living condition, which means there will be issues between the two of you that need to be thoroughly worked out. Don't shove your problems under the bed — there's no storage unit from The Container Store fit for it.

10. You can never completely avoid the "Do you have any siblings?" question.

During the first few weeks of college, introducing yourself will get overrated. Repeating your basic information to random classmates will give you the expertise to write your own autobiography, but a topic that almost always comes up is family. Obviously, a big part of your personality is made up of those core family values and traditions. But responding with small numbers and no annoying sibling stories always makes you feel like the odd one out. "Really, you have no brothers or sisters? That must be so nice. I bet you're really spoiled." Being an only child has its ups and downs, but the constant interrogation and assumptions made are never a plus. Besides, I'd trade hand-me-downs for a new car any day.

11. Your friends won't listen to the detailed version of your day like your parents did.

After a long hard day of school, the "How are you doing?" question was your key to opening the flood gates to your disaster of an afternoon. Mom and Dad lived for that kind of detail, but your roommate at 1 a.m.? Not so much. Stick to the key issues you need help working out. Roommates are surrogates for siblings, but they'll never replace your real family.

12. You will soon realize that laundry doesn't do itself....

One of the perks of being an only child is never having to worry about doing laundry growing up. Well, you're grown up and still don't know how to throw detergent together with your clothes so that brings you down to a kid again. College is the place to take responsibility for yourself and learn how to separate your whites from that pesky red sock. Otherwise "Pinky" will have to make a shameful appearance at the next fam reunion.

13. You get too sensitive when your grades aren't as terrific as they were in high school. 

In high school, you were a star, shining brighter with every A+ that you earned. But college is a different story and doesn't always match the happy ending you had in mind. Reaching higher education means pursuing higher standards because it only takes a little slacking off to bump you down to a B student. Attending classes regularly, visiting professors during office hours and forming study groups will help you achieve that success you're so used to. You know what they say? Parents of only children stopped at one because their child was too good to be tainted by another.

14. Letting go will be equally as hard on you as it is on your parents. 

As fun as college sounds, saying goodbye to your Day 1's will be the hardest part of growing up. No two other people will ever amount to the love and support your parents are for you. As easy as it is to bicker with one another, you'll always be outnumbered by one on Team Parent. So set aside your differences and just enjoy the time you have left together because before you know it, the Three Amigos will have to part ways and you can never guarantee how much time left you have with someone, especially when it comes to your two best friends.


Lead Image Credit: Village Roadshow Pictures, The Zanuck Company and Plan B Entertainment

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Heran Mamo - University of Southern California

Heran Mamo is a freshman at the University of Southern California majoring in print and digital journalism. In high school, she was a features writer for her school newspaper and occasionally was featured in the school literary magazine. She likes running, shopping and anything on the dessert menu. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @heranmamo!

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