Welcoming Change: The College Transition for a Younger Sibling


Kirti Nath, Staff Writer

Walking back into Ward Melville on the first day of school, I had one thought in my mind: I had one-hundred eighty times two days left of high school, then I can head off to college as well.

In late August, when my sister went to college, my life changed completely. I should disclaim, as siblings go, my sister and I are by far on the closer side. So, aside from half my wardrobe walking away with her when she left, I felt as if I lost a best friend, a guardian, a teacher, a mentor, and a roommate all at once.

My sister and I literally did everything together. As one of my sister’s friend once sarcastically noted, “Seeing you guys together is like spotting the yeti.” So to say the very least, I miss her a lot and I know a lot of other siblings feel the same way. Last week, I overheard one senior saying, “I knew I would miss my brother, but didn’t think it would be that bad because he’s not that far away. But when he was leaving, it all kind of came crashing down on me.”

Then, as my sister began to settle into her new environment, I started to learn a lot more about college life: the good, the bad, and the ugly, an uncensored version that isn’t given on the typical college tour. Through my sister’s day to day accounts of her new life, I vicariously lived out the rest of my summer as a college freshman, learning from professors who had their own Wikipedia pages, running across campus with peers from across the world, and vainly attempting to combat roaches in dorms from a distance with a can of Lysol.

Lately, I have been suffering from what I like to call YSPS, or Younger Siblings’ Perception Syndrome. I have both the blessing and burden of knowing what the next stage of life looks like and consequently, I already have one foot out the door of Ward Melville. But this foresight has added a lot of weight to my already strained emotions. I am having a lot of trouble settling into my own new school year. I found disappointment in almost everything, from my new schedule and locker, to even the new planners.

I keep asking myself why can’t things be like they used to be like last year? I either want my old life back, or I want to fast-forward through the next two years. I even briefly contemplated meeting my counselor regarding early-graduation. Ward Melville, my old safe-haven, has become a vortex of confusion and indifference. Upon talking to others however, I realized that I’m not alone in my sentiment. Junior Olivia Heim stated that, “Seeing the individuality that you gain after high school through a sibling makes high school seem so uniform and confined.”

As the younger of only two siblings, my home life has also changed entirely. What used to be much-anticipated Friday movie nights with my sister, are now idle hours flipping through a soporific T.V. guide. Similarly, homework has become pretty mundane without my built-in study buddy.

This weekend, my sister came home for Labor Day. And everything briefly fell back into place. But the fact of the matter is that my life has changed. I can’t go chasing the past, nor can I speed up time. Walking into Ward Melville last year, I had no idea about the beautiful year that was about to come. One of the most intriguing parts of life is that you don’t know who is about to come your way, or how relationships will grow and change with time. Distance doesn’t mean separation, or loss. Maybe I have something great on my horizon, but I’m being too stubborn to let it in.

People say they grow a lot in high school, and I can’t truncate this growing experience, I have to experience it whether I like it or not. And when I finally have my diploma in hand, I guarantee that I will be very different from the girl who sits and types this now. So I guess what I am trying to say is, to all the siblings who lost a brother or sister to college this year, last year, or maybe who are bracing for it next year, it is difficult and different, startling and confusing, but in time new routines will develop. Alex Gibbs, whose brother left for Chicago a year ago said, “My brother and I are pretty relaxed, the only difference is that I’m not as alert rounding corners of my house worried I’m going to be tackled.”

Change is inevitable, but it’s not always a bad thing. Maybe it will allow you to mature in ways you didn’t expect, or at the very least save you from a couple of sneak attacks.