Siblings dish on living together in college
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 21:03
The common idea of freedom many Americans hold is that at 18, young adults must branch out and find their own identity, family studies professor Bahira Sherif-Trask says. Due to this idea, many people think going to college and living with siblings can hinder that experience.
But Sherif-Trask says it is helpful for introverted people to be around family, and can be is a source of stability while away from home.
“In other countries the whole concept is somewhat different,” Sherif-Trask says. “Family is seen as a social and emotional support, not as something that stunts growth, but helps you grow.”
Sherif-Trask says her younger brother attended the same college as her, and it helped the two develop a stronger relationship. For her brother, having an older sibling give advice and guidance while far away from his parents was beneficial.
She says she also has a number of students who are twins and enjoy living and going to school together. For Sherif-Trask and her brother, going to college together was always the plan because they have such a special bond, she says.
Different students have different needs, so staying with sibling can vary depending on the relationship. Students who are shier may need support while outgoing or competitive siblings may desire time apart, she says.
Sherif-Trask says because each set of siblings is different, what worked for someone may not work for someone else. Siblings should take a look at their own relationships before deciding to live together at the same college, Sherif-Trask says.
“College is a really wonderful time in terms of meeting new people and expanding your horizons,” she says. “So they should reinforce that in each other.”
Junior Ashley Connell attends the university with her twin sister Chelsea and older sister Courtney, she says. They all went to the in-state college to save money, but Connell says they bonded during college and were able to have fun experiences. Connell says she chose to live with Chelsea their freshman year and the two have lived with each other ever since. Their sophomore year, they also lived with Courtney, who was a senior at the time. Now, Connell says she lives with Chelsea and three other roommates.
Her older sister helped the girls get accustomed to the college life and made the transition easier, she says. Although Connell says her older sister sometimes felt like a mom to them, she still enjoyed having family close by. Her siblings not only help her whenever she has serious problems and need a shoulder to cry on, but also are available when she is bored and wants to hang out, she says.
“It always helps having family around for anything because you get sense of home without being there” she says.
She says she does everything with her twin and would have found it strange going to college without her. Connell says she was not worried about living with them because in high school they got along well.
It is simpler living with a sister, she says, because there is no awkwardness when it comes to personal subjects. Also, it is easier to work issues out when they get into a fight as they can confront each other without being rude, she says.
Connell says some people who go to college with their siblings rely too much on their family and do not try new things. She is on the club field hockey team and is a nursing major, while her twin is a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority and is a fashion major. While Connell’s friends know and get along with her twin’s friends, they still have some separate friends and can spend time apart when they want.
“Me and my sisters had each other there when we needed to, but we didn’t depend on each other,” Connell says.
Senior twin sisters Daria and Chloe Lim say they decided to go to the university because of the figure skating program. Chloe Lim says they both liked the school and thought it might be cool to go together. In their freshman year, they made a decision to try to branch out and find new friends separate from each other. The two lived in different dorms buildings, but in the same complex.
Chloe Lim says she started as a wildlife conservation major, while her sister declared a fashion major. However, in their first year, they say they both switched to psychology and also wound in the same social circles. Chloe Lim says the two have very similar personalities and are drawn to the same type of people, so it was not surprising trying to be separate did not work.
The twins, who are from New York, say living together in college is like having a piece of home here with them. Chloe Lim says she does not get homesick as much because she is comfortable around her sister and can go to her at any time.
“Having her here brings a sense of home while I’m at school,” Chloe Lim says.
They are currently taking two psychology classes together but have separate electives, Daria Lim says. Their schedules and college lives balance out because they have tried to take new opportunities while still spending time together, Daria Lim says.
“Having a sister doesn’t restrict you,” Daria Lim says. “If I wanted to, I could go out and make new friends. We’re choosing to be together.”
The twins still try to make new friends but being around each other makes more at ease and more confident, Chloe Lim says. They have lived together in the same apartment the past three years but have not shared the same room because being in the same space might be too much, she says.