What is It Like to Have Siblings at College?

Posted by Rebekah Jorgensen on 12/12/16 9:30 AM

Patrick Henry College freshman orientation

Siblings are those who know us the best; the ones with whom we share bedrooms, wardrobes, mealtimes, and holidays for our entire lives. When we leave home to go to college, we usually leave our siblings behind and set off on our own. However, sometimes two or even three siblings will attend the same college at the same time, and this arrangement presents its own set of challenges and joys.

 As a whole, siblings who attend college together talk of the joys of having a built-in best friend. "I can always go to my sister's room to talk, she comes over to my apartment a lot, and we're just so comfortable with each other that it's like having the ultimate best friend," Savannah Petree said. "We share clothes, she helps me with my makeup, and we understand each other better than anyone else because we grew up together. Having someone who knows you and your family and your struggles is really helpful, especially when you feel lonely or sad or upset." This ease of having someone who knows everything about you can both ease the pain of homesickness and help put situations you're dealing with into perspective.

"We can be completely ourselves with each other," William Bock said when talking about his brother. "I can help him with school and share in what he's going through and be there for him when he's going through any difficulty both academically, physically, spiritually, and relationally. We are closer friends as brothers because we room together and go to school together."

Leah and Savannah Petree
Leah and Savannah Petree

However, this same convenient best friend can also lead to tension, as the younger sibling often feels the pressure to compete, or even be better than, the one who is already established in school. "It is easy to live in my sister's shadow and be known by the faculty and upperclassmen as 'her little sister,'" Meredith Monroe said. "Also, lots of people expect me to do certain things because it is what my sister did. It is sometimes a challenge to be myself when people already have certain expectations of who I ought to be." 

"You're in the same classes they took, and the professors are aware that you're siblings," Leah Petree added. "So it's hard to get out of the psychological 'I'm not as good,' especially when I'm trying literally working on the exact same essays as my sister did four years ago."

Neil and Carrie DurningNeil and Carrie Durning

However, despite the pressure to live up to expectations, many sibling sets agree that the benefits of living drama-free with a family member far outweigh the costs. "Sometimes there's stuff you can't say in public, but when it's just you and your sibling, you can say anything and everything and it's judgment free," Neil Durning said. "It's someone who's known you your whole life, so they understand things about you that other college friends can't. Also, if you're just sick of drama, you can meet up with your sibling and talk about home, about memories that only you two share."

Even though siblings steal clothes, beg for rides to the store, remind you of things your mother says, and compete with you in everything, their perspective is invaluable when it comes to navigating the tricky waters of life at college.

Micah and William Bock
Micah and William Bock

 "Having a sibling at school has given me a great support system," Giovanna Lastra concluded. "Being so far from home is difficult, but having my brother brings a sense of security and comfort that I did not have before."



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