For graduating MSU seniors, this time of year is all about the upcoming commencement ceremony, job searches and spending precious moments with friends they may never see again.
But graduation can also bring some students the realization that they must move back in with their parents, even those who swore they’d never be “one of those” adults living with mom and pop following graduation.
Some students are fortunate enough to have jobs lined up for next year, such as education senior Joe Becker, who will begin his student teaching in the fall. “I’m happy to start teaching, but sad to be leaving college,” Becker said. “With student teaching, I don’t get paid, so I was forced into [moving back home].” The hardest part about moving back home for Becker will be adjusting from his school schedule to a full-time job schedule. “It will be hard getting up early,” he said.
It isn’t a surprise that the transition from college to home can be a difficult adjustment for students, especially those who have thrived off the independence that college life provides. “It’s easy to chafe at having to live with your parents’ rules and expectations after having more freedom at college,” Christine Larson, assistant psychology professor, said. “It’s good to move home and be realistic about what your parents’ expectations might be and understand their right to have such expectations.”
Students who have an open relationship with their parents and can talk about their expectations will have an easier time re-adjusting to the house rules. Becker has a good relationship with his parents, so he doesn’t think it will be hard to live at home. “I will probably be going to bed at the same time [they will] and be very busy, so there won’t be many problems,” he said.
Other graduates are making an effort to avoid living with their parents. “I will not be moving back home if I can help it,” social relations senior Amy Dripchak said. “I really want to stay in East Lansing, and I know it will be better for me if I do.”
Students who have lived on their own for four or five years without returning home for the summer months will likely experience the biggest change. “Going home after growing apart from my parents for so long would be pure outrage,” Dripchak said. “I can’t deal with [my parents’ questions] after living [at MSU] and talking to them no more than once a week.”
Once college-bound kids move out of the house for the first time, many things change. Students living at college are pretty much free to do what they want. No one is there to turn off the TV when you should be reading or studying. No one is there to wake you up for class. However, parents, too, can get used to having one less son or daughter around the house.
Moving back for many students could involve a feeling of letting their parents down and being treated like a child under parental control. “After [students] live on their own for several years, they feel like some of their hard won independence and adulthood has been sapped once they move back home, which is associated with childhood and being dependent on your parents,” Larson said.
Even if it may seem unbearable, there are benefits to living at home. While a few parents might charge rent, most do not require money towards room and board, food, laundry – all the things we pay for in college. Becker is looking forward to moving home as a chance to rebuild his savings.
Graduates who have jobs lined up right out of college should consider themselves lucky. The job market is still sparse and many seniors will be moving back home with mom and dad with no job at all. “Students sometimes feel like failures when they move home without a job because their expectations during college were that they’d get a job as soon as they were done,” Larson said. “And it’s not always that easy, particularly if you don’t have experience.”
Larson said it is easy to get down on yourself if you’re stuck with not only less independence, but also a few rejection letters from prospective employers. “It’s easy to start wondering if you’ll ever get a job.”
Students who do not yet have a job should not give up on the search. “It’s good to remember that this is a temporary situation and the best way to find other options is to keep hitting the pavement and creating opportunities for yourself,” Larson said. She also suggested seniors should continue to “plow through the frustration and, even if it’s zapping your motivation, keep on applying.”
Hopefully, graduating seniors can look for the good in their new surroundings, even if it’s living with their parents again. The time under one roof could allow for some serious family bonding; or all of the family-time will get you out even sooner.

The Big Green wishes all May 2005 graduates the best of luck.

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