Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preparing for the College Transition

In one week, we drop off our daughter to Tufts University so she can began the next era of her life as a college woman.

All of us have been preparing.

High School is a time of many emotions - high highs and low lows.   It's about discovering independence, making choices, accepting responsibility, developing relationships, and balancing parental authority with the desire for autonomy.

More is expected of today's teens than in my generation.  It's very stressful on a young person.

In one week, she'll make decisions on her own.  She'll decide what to eat (and drink), when to study, and who to spend her time with.

Over the past few weeks, she's thought about her transition in a very spiritual way.

I did not approach my college transition formally.   I packed my clothes and typewriter the night before and we drove from Los Angeles to Stanford for the drop off.     That was 31 years ago this week.

She realizes that she has to prepare for this new era while bringing closure to her childhood growing up in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

She has thought about all her Wellesley relationships.   She's scheduled events with every one of her friends to create positive memories and energy before they go their separate ways.    She's arranged hikes, picnics, movies, meals, and sleepovers.

She's taken private walks to her favorite places in Wellesley.    She's also made a conscious decision not to visit many of the places she treasured when very young so that she can remember them as they were from a child's point of view.

Yes, she'll stay in touch with friends on Facebook, but that will fade as she develops new relationships, new interests, and new goals.   The closure she's bringing now will leave lasting memories among all her friends, creating a sense of optimism and energy for the future ahead.

My wife and I know that next Wednesday will be hard.   We'll bring our daughter's carefully packed belongings (4 small bins that will fit perfectly in a cozy dorm room) to her new living space, set up her IT infrastructure (the home CIO at your service), and attend a formal matriculation ceremony.   My wife and I will give her the space she needs to bond with her new colleagues and we'll retreat to a quiet vegan cafe to reflect on the next era in our lives.

We've already planned a few short trips together.  My wife will join me for keynote addresses in Burlington Vermont, Phoenix Arizona, and London England.    We've already planned a family get together on Mt. Monadnock over Columbus Day weekend.    We've thought about the next few months and years as we've considered the implications of staying close to our daughter, our parents, and our jobs.

The end result is a solid plan that will launch all of us into the next stage of life.   For my daughter, it's adulthood.   For my wife and I, it's a refocus on each other, the world around us, and our careers.   The past 18 years with our daughter have been a gift, but the next era will be positive for all of us too.   Our evolution begins next Wednesday.


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