A majority of first-year college students tend to live on campus in dorms. These dorms tend to have hours of operation that reflect the campus—meaning that students have to be out of their dorm during winter break. This seems to be a positive thing; it encourages students to go home and visit their family for the holiday season. In many places, it is almost an entire month off of school—what a great break, right?
Regardless of what you do with your family over break, leaving back to college may be the hardest of them all. Students and their families get a taste of what it is like to be home again, sleeping under the same roof, eating home cooked meals,spending time together etc. When it is time for students to go back, there is no big hoorah of shopping for school supplies, decorations, and outfits. There is no big hoorah of a giant family trip to the college to unpack an entire carload of goodies. It is simply a hug goodbye, a half-carload of clean laundry, and a lonely drive home. It is a lonely wait for families as they wait to get a call that their kid made it safe.
The campus is no longer new and exciting. The challenge that lies ahead in the second semester is intimidating. There are not as many events to attend. There are no more football games. Just school. Just work. All of the butterflies of being in a new place and being free from parents seem to dissolve. Students wonder how they will do this for the next four years. How will they be away from their family again? What about their pet? Sure, there is summer break where students can go home for a while. But that taste of home might make returning in the fall even harder.
Whether students go to college twenty minutes from their home, twenty states from their home, or somewhere in between, the adventure creates a distance between families that cause hearts to ache. College may still be an exciting and character-building experience, but that doesn't make the lonely car ride back any different.