A few weeks after starting college, Julie Wolf’s daughter texted her mom that she was getting a flu shot. Julie patted herself on the back that her summer of “Important Lessons for Independence” had done the trick. Her daughter was following her advice. But wait, Julie thought. She’d never said anything about a flu shot. The flu shot was her daughter’s idea. What else had Julie missed? She taught her to do laundry and loaded her down with a package of pods that will last her all four years. Her daughter wanted her room to be homey, so Julie spent hours helping her select too many decorative pillows for a bed that’s too small to accommodate them all. Julie encouraged her daughter to read her email Every. Single. Day, because there is certain to be something very important in it from Financial Aid or from a professor, with deadlines that Julie won’t be there to help keep track of. Julie told her to get involved in clubs but not to overcommit; to learn where the health services office is located in case she ever needs to talk to someone; to be nice to the university workers who have the thankless jobs of cleaning the bathrooms and preparing the food for thousands of students who tend to look past and through them, if they bother to look at them at all; to learn her professors’ office hours and sign up for them; to stop sleeping through her alarm; to call an escort from campus security to walk her home if she’s out alone at night; to be open to new ideas and activities but to also know how to say ”No”; to never drink out of a cup that a person hands her at a party; to stride boldly outside of her comfort zone and yet remain true to herself, simultaneously, that dizziest of balancing acts; and, of course, to call her mother weekly. Julie’s daughter hasn’t called weekly. Julie has no idea if she’s checking her email or going to office hours. But she did get a flu shot without Julie scheduling it for her. Anything else Julie missed, her daughter is going to have to figure it out on her own. And Julie knows she will. To read more about Julie and her daughter’s transition to college, check out the College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
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