A Dorm of Your Own


Living at Home As a College Student

High school is finished, the summer job is almost at an end, and it’s time to make the break from home. Or is it?

For many young people, attending college means moving into a dormitory or apartment. But thousands, living near colleges and universities, choose to stay at home while continuing their education. Does their role as a family and ward member then take on new meaning?

Such situations are often an education in themselves, and there is much a student can contribute and learn.

We who become involved and busy in student life often fail to notice small services performed for us at home. But the value of a simple thank you can’t be underestimated. Remember to thank Mom for typing the final draft of that English paper, and tell Jim how much you appreciated his raking the leaves while you were at the library. In fact, those thank you’s can be a unique expression of your love—a note of thanks slipped under Dad’s pillow, a flower for Mom, or an invitation to Jim to attend the football game—with you!

Stay involved in your family. Participate regularly and willingly in family home evenings and family prayer. Take ten minutes out and show David how to perfect that basketball shot, or help Dad change the flat tire on the station wagon. Be the first one out in the morning to shovel the walks or the first to offer to read two-year-old Amy a bedtime story. Those deeds will be much longer remembered than the “A” you earned in chemistry. And if you regularly try to share experiences with family members, they probably won’t resent the quiet study time that you require, a time you need to be alone.

Anyone who has lived in an apartment can appreciate the blessings of home. You may not be paying rent at home, and your laundry is sometimes done for you. You don’t start to fix dinner and suddenly realize there is no flour, sugar, salt, or other staples you’ve always taken for granted. In fact, dinner is usually fixed for you. So what should you do in return?

Remember that it’s important to keep up with your family responsibilities. It’s a temptation to use homework or other activities as excuses not to complete tasks assigned to you around the house. Mow the lawn when it’s your turn, do the dishes on Wednesday nights, and fix the lunches Friday morning. If you make a sincere effort to keep up most of the time, parents will be much more understanding when a situation occurs and you really can’t do your share.

Try budgeting your time or trading chores. Richard probably wouldn’t mind taking out your garbage this week if you promise to help him clean his room next Saturday. And when you realize ahead of time what’s expected of you, budget your homework time realistically—you can usually accomplish both.

As students we stand on the threshold of becoming adults, and that usually signals a new way of looking at our parents. Considering parents as fellow adults and persons with needs and wants can be a fulfilling experience. We aren’t children any more—and we can start appreciating our parents for all they have done for us.

What about accepting advice from parents? It can be a challenging and seemingly difficult experience. It often requires us to swallow some pride and feelings of independence. After all, how much does Mom really know about midterm examinations? And Dad hasn’t taken accounting for at least 20 years. But realizing that parents are actually interested in us and willing to share our experiences can help us develop a beautiful, mature relationship with parents that will be richly rewarding. They haven’t gone through all of those years without accumulating wisdom … listen, and consider their suggestions as loving words of experience. You will find that a good relationship with your parents can be a precious eternal possession.

Confide in your parents. Share your dreams and hopes; express your fears, your feelings of inadequacy. Let them know what you’re doing. Share your happiness at their successes and fulfillments. And make them a very real part of your life by involving them in your student activities. Mom will really empathize with your need for study time after she’s attended a few classes with you, and Dad might offer to help by lending you equipment after he’s been to your golf class.

Finally, involvement and activity in the Church should not be neglected. Home wards want and need your enthusiasm, talents, vitality, and spirit. Involve your bishop in your new lifestyle. Let him know what you’re doing, what your interests are, and what course of study you’re pursuing. But be honest with him about what kind of a load you’re carrying so he can consider it in issuing Church callings.

Keep the Church an important part of your life. Your spiritual development and education is as important as any intellectual growth that occurs during the college years.

Nurture celestial family bonds. The days and months in which you will live with your family are probably numbered. Live them in such a way that you can look back with pride and happiness upon your home life and your relationship with other family members.

It may not be long until you, too, may step into the role of a parent. Make the most of your present family situation, and you’ll feel much better prepared—both for future years and for eternity.

Photography by Longin Lonczyna, Jr.

Shirley Smith Ricks, newly married and a student at Brigham Young University, serves as Relief Society president in BYU 82nd Branch, BYU Ninth Stake.