An Empty Bedroom: When Siblings Go Off to College

Casey H.

Staff Writer

There is a stereotypical depiction of siblings. They fight, they ignore one another, and they are always competing in one way or another. However, that is while they live together, often sharing a bathroom and sometimes even sharing a bedroom. So what happens when an older brother or sister leaves the house to go to college? Such a change certainly is a major shift in the relationship of siblings, and whether it is good or bad, it always has an impact.

Based on this stereotype of the quarrelling siblings, the most expected reaction to a sibling going off to college would be one of indifference. There is always the hope for more space that many younger members of a family look forward to. Freshman Jimmy Wilson sums it up in one sentence, “I was glad that I got [my sister’s] room.” This apathetic view of a senior’s departure is shared amongst various members of the student body. Sean Roberts, another freshman, says of his sister, “My sister went to University of Central Florida when I was thirteen. I was sad when she left, but I was glad that she made it in…” Sophomore Daniel Maloney (who has a sister that will be graduating in May) comments, “I can’t say I am particularly upset about it, since with all her homework and clubs and her job, I have not seen her all that much. Our house will definitely be emptier without her, though.” For students like these, this coming-of-age event has little effect on their lives.

Alternatively, in many cases, the imminent moving out of siblings works to bring brothers and sisters together. While helping relationships in the long run, it is a cause of sadness as graduation approaches. Freshman Becca Palezesi says of her brother Michael leaving, “I am really scared because my brother and I are really close. I am not ready.” My sister and I were rather indifferent towards each other until her eleventh grade year, when I realized that she would be leaving. By the time graduation rolled around, we were as close as sisters should be, and dropping her off at the Savannah College of Art and Design was one of the saddest moments of my life. This is an opinion shared by a number of other Woodstock underclassmen. Ninth grader Hannah Lopez’s cousin was almost a brother to her, and she said when he graduated “it sucked, since we could not do all the things we used to anymore.” Roberts has another sibling that will be leaving soon. “I’m more upset about my brother,” he explains. “My whole life is going to change. He’s my boss, for one, so I’m going to need to find a new job. I always went to him with questions about school and life in general, and I will not be able to do that anymore.”

college CHThere are even those who are thinking ahead and wondering what life will be like when their siblings, now juniors, are going to graduate in 2015. It is around this time that it really hits the members of an upperclassman’s household: in a year, he or she will be a senior, and after that, the sibling will leave. Ninth grader Zach Rosinko, brother of The Paw Print’s own Megan Rosinko, junior, commented on her upcoming senior year, saying, “It’s pretty disappointing that she’ll be gone, since my other sister’s a little crazy. She probably won’t go very far [for college], though, so I’ll still be able to see [my sister].” The true reality of graduation seems to creep up on many students, both upcoming seniors and their underclassmen siblings, causing somewhat of an early panic. “I’m going to cry,” freshman Sarah Bennett says of her sister Kimberly Bennett’s imminent graduation. “I’m about to cry just thinking about it. She’s the only one in my house that I’m really close to.”

The matter of how far away a senior is to go upon graduation is also a subject of discontent among their families. Bennett added, “And [Kimberly] might be going all the way up to New York! Then what will I do?” Sophomore Paula Ruiz’s sister Elena has probably traveled further than most Woodstock alumni. “She’s at Oxford [in England],” Ruiz explains. “I saw her for three weeks at Christmas, and she came home recently. She spent her junior year in Germany, so I’m used to her being away, but I still miss her.” Athens, Savannah, Auburn; they are all college towns that are a few hours away by car, and sometimes that sort of time cannot be carved out of a student’s schedule, further lengthening the stretch of time that a high schooler has to go through to see his or her sibling.

Siblings have a way of fighting, teasing, annoying, and ignoring each other all their lives…until one of them suddenly is not in the other’s life anymore. Reactions to such a change can involve tears, excitement, or indifference. Based on the students at Woodstock’s reactions, it appears that the stereotype of the quarreling siblings may be just that, a stereotype, and that many do indeed feel a pang of sadness at an empty bedroom.

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