My romantic comedy, GETTING TO THIRD DATE, is about the difference between college life and high school life. I think we all hope it will be very different, and are disappointed when a lot of the same old same old issues show up before we even get the suitcase unpacked or the posters on the wall.
There are differences, however, which I was reminded of when my middle child turned twenty yesterday. He's in his sophomore year of college, a computer science major taking a lot of hard courses. He also works part-time, every week night. And, worst of all, on Monday he came down with a fever, a cough, a sore throat and congestion (worse than a cold, but not as bad as the flu). If he were in high school, there would have been no question about him missing school. He wouldn't have gone. Ditto work. But now he's grown up. Missing a college class means finding a way to get notes from someone who was there (there are such things as cake courses, where you can miss a class and not even notice--he's not taking any of those). It means making sure there are no changes to test dates or material. Missing work means a smaller paycheck.
So, being a good mom, I discussed all the pros and cons of the situation he was facing (he listened gravely, his cheeks bright red from fever and his eyes glazed with congested misery...or I think he did :-). I then backed off and left the decision in his hands (I would have consulted his wishes in high school, but would have felt free to overrule his decision back then).
Upshot: he only missed one day of classes (his most scheduled day, unfortunately) and dragged himself to the rest. He missed two days of work (can't talk on the phone without a voice).
I guess, watching him juggle all the choices and decisions as he went from a teenager to a full fledged twenty-something, I realized that, while in high school you're ringing the doorbell of adulthood, college means you've crossed the threshold. Maybe you're not in the living room sitting on the couch you bought yourself, or in the kitchen cooking dinner...but you're headed there.
My son has two more years to go before he graduates. Two more years of decisions that reflect more and more of where he wants to go in life. I can't wait to see what he decides.