Welcome freshmen! And the coming homesickness

We were driving home from our visit back East on Saturday when we came across an SUV full of a mostly enthusiastic — we guess — Illinois family at the Tomah, Wis., rest stop, heading for one of the great passages of life: the moment when you’re dropped off to be on your own in a dorm full of present strangers.

The mother looked happy. The grandmother looked excited. The daughter, the presumed freshman, not so much. It might have been the coming separation, or it might’ve been the brightly decorated vehicle with “U MN or bust” slogans, apparently written by a younger sibling, and the dread of having a happy mother and excited grandmother doting over her in front of the dorm full of present strangers.

We all went through it, kid.

Brenda Gorseth, writing on the Life in the Slow Lane blog, says this is all a good thing, though it might not seem like it right now.

Don’t quit. This is the biggest and last piece of advice; this won’t be easy for you and it isn’t supposed to be. Do NOT give up because you forgot to study, turn in a paper, etc. Change majors, change colleges, change dorm rooms/apartments/roommates, but do not stop going to school. The real world will be there when you’re done; don’t be in a rush to get into it. College is a transition time between relying on someone else to manage your world to YOU being the CEO of your own little life. Take these two, four, or more years to figure out who you are, what you want to accomplish with your life, and where you want to be in ten years. Unless you plan on going out to the oil fields, no job you get without a degree is going to pay the bills successfully. Break up with your boyfriend? Tragic, but no reason to quit. Flunked a class? Yes, it will happen; retake it and move on. The high grades you got in high school may or may not be there, so adapt and learn. Fight with a roomie? Find a new one — the college will help you. Better yet, try to work it out first; texting doesn’t count. Ever. Please don’t think, “I’ll just take this semester off and go back next year.” Next year will never happen and the regret you’ll feel when you realize there’s no where to go will be deep. You don’t need a breather; that’s what summer break is for. Sweat it out, get some help, take a deep breath and try again. DO NOT QUIT!

As for you parents, steel yourself now for that first visit home from your frosh. A little education and independence makes for an insufferable returnee. It’ll pass.

Related: Learning to be a college mom (Magazine – The Boston Globe).