I was chatting last night at a girl's nite out dinner with a friend who's daughter is in high school. We were talking about college, specifically the benefits of going away to school vs staying home and going to a local college. I was a little surprised at how strongly I feel about some of these issues. Of course, it's easy for me to say, as my kids are 7 and 9, but I really think I'll stick to it. We've actually already discussed some of this in my house, so here is my advice to my sons:
1. Go away to school if you're going to study. Move at least 2 hours away to a mainly residential school and live in the dorm. It is a great transition from home to real life. Plus there's always a party. If you're in college, you're allowed to come home for the summer and hang out. Also, you can live here the summer after you graduate. But only the summer.
2. If you're not going to college (although you'd better go to college), you have until September after your senior year in high school to get it together and move out of my house. Get an apartment with some roommates and a nice job and we'll see you for dinner on Sunday. Yes, you can bring your laundry.
3. In college, take a year abroad. This is the best, cheapest and most authentic way to discover other cultures. I lived in Scotland for a year (because I stink at languages and had to go to an English speaking country) and traveled around Britain and Italy mostly by myself. It was probably the most formative year of my life. Youth Hostels are your friends.
4. After college, go and live in a big city. It can be any city except LA. New York, Chicago, Boston, even San Francisco(although that is a little close, but maybe DH and I will have retired to the islands by then) all count.
There seems to be a big trend for kids to stay at home well into their 20's and I don't think it's good for them or any of us. Our job as parents is to raise competent, caring adults and most of that involves pushing them further and further away. We've already taken away most of their decision making power by not allowing them out without a leash to explore on their own, and I think that is a tragedy. Kid's need to have a soft place to land, but there's no point to that if they're not going to launch in the first place.
Of course, being that I'm tossing this advice to them, my kids will probably end up ultra right-wing conservatives living in a tiny town somewhere and cursing foreigners. At least they won't be living in my house while they do it.
On this date: In 1861 the Civil War began.