On the surface, going away to college and making a move to an independent or assisted living community appear to be polar opposites. You go to college late in your teens. You move to a community as an older adult. What could they possibly have in common?
More than you would imagine. Right from the start, there are a lot of commonalities. We made a list of 23 things you might think about and/or do that are the same for both big life transitions. Our list starts right at the beginning of the journey…
1 You spend a lot of time making the the decision to leave the place you have been living for a long time to go somewhere different. And while you feel positive about moving ahead, you are probably also apprehensive.
2 You sift through a lot of options and make a list of places you actually want to look at.
3 You think about where you want to be geographically. Do you want to stay close to where you are or go somewhere two hours away or a plane flight away?
4 You think about whether you want a campus that’s large or one that’s smaller.
5 You schedule many appointments for campus tours.
6 You bring along someone whose opinion you respect to help you notice things beyond what you will see on the tour because…
7 The campus rep will show you all the best things about their institution.
8 After you’ve visited a number of campuses, you evaluate offerings and options to see which ones might meet your needs. This is like comparing apples and oranges and tomatoes and pickles.
9 You take a careful look at your finances.
10 You take a careful look at the institution’s finances.
11 You fill out lots of forms and put together an application packet.
12 You take a test to see if you a candidate for admission. Different kinds of tests, but tests nonetheless.
13 You are accepted and you greet that news with both excitement and trepidation.
14 You tell your friends about your plan; some are excited for you, some will say things that make you doubt your decision.
15 You worry about moving to a living space smaller than where you live now, but you probably aren’t thinking about all the common areas you will gain.
16 You begin thinking about what to bring with you, and you realize you have a lot of stuff you don’t need anymore.
17 You visit the community again. Campus residents will all reassure you that joining their team is great decision.
18 You spend some nights awake staring at the ceiling. You worry that everyone there knows each other and you don’t know them. What if you can’t find a group of people you like? What if the food is horrible? What if you get there and you don’t like it? What if you have chosen badly and the whole thing is going to go off the rails?
19 You prepare for move day. (If you are moving to a community and are working with a move manager, you will be very well prepared. If you are moving to college, oh heck, roll with it.)
20 You meet lots of new people; you remember some of their names but they all remember yours. Once the newness wears off, you will filter through the many people you’ve met to find the few that will become true friends.
21 You start to find new routines. You build new habits.
22 You figure out if this campus is truly the right fit for you. If it’s not, you make a change. If it is, you settle in, stop worrying and enjoy being where you are.
And this last one, which is perhaps the most important:
23 No one tells you this, but in making this transition, you did a brave thing. Anytime you take a leap from what you know to what you don’t, you are showing a quiet kind of courage. This is true even if you were worried or afraid at times (and everyone is). Mark Twain said this: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear.”
Are you surprised how much going to college and moving to a community overlap emotionally, intellectually and practically? Although it might feel overwhelming, once you start moving forward, the pieces fall into place. Look for someone who has already made the leap. They were once standing where you are now, and they can tell you for sure– “Don’t worry, you’re going to be just fine.”