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Another Year of University From Home (With an Obligatory: as a Military Child)

Recently, I had a conversation with my father about making the decision to study from home again for my sophomore year of college. After being entirely online my freshman year, I wanted to ensure that I would at least have some money saved before making the leap to move out. Projected financial stability aside, I’m not exactly ecstatic about this. There are many things I’m missing out on by not living on campus the next two years; not only do I feel disconnected from many of my peers who had moved out as soon as they hit 18, but I have very few friends at this point in my life from not meeting any new people my freshman year of college. I don't voice any of these complaints to my father (I usually save the mushy stuff for my mother instead), but I go to him with college-related concerns fairly often.

“What do I do if I’m having second thoughts about my degree choice?”

“Are you really sure you and mom won't mind me staying for another year?”

“I’m worried my scholarship funds aren’t enough to cover my tuition this semester.”

My dad thinks he’s so funny. Whenever I complain about college being expensive, he reminds me that the army paid for all four of his degrees. He’s a real comedian. I have no desire to join the Army.

While the past year and some changes haven't been all peaches and cream, I’ve learned that I do have options.

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about “the forever home conundrum” in the middle of a PCS. Many of the people I went to high school with ended up enrolling in universities and colleges in the same state that we graduated high school from. For the most part, these same people had lived in that state their whole life. There was nothing stopping me from doing the same; I could have applied to Penn State, tried to negotiate for in-state tuition, and perhaps lived on campus while the rest of my family bounced around from state to state. I’m not ashamed to say that I was afraid of that happening. Despite how independent I claim to be, I realize I need a safety net, knowing that my father’s next assignment is always up in the air. In early 2021, for example, rumors had it that we were being assigned to South Korea. Imagine our surprise when we started packing for Alabama. I was too nervous to make the big leap immediately.

It’s not all bad. I have no roommate to get acquainted with (I still have to share a bathroom with my little brothers, unfortunately), don’t have to pay rent, don’t have to worry about how I’m going to feed or clothe myself, and I skipped out on the freshman 15. On the other hand, If I had moved out a year ago, as much as I would have enjoyed the independence, I likely would have been woefully unprepared. Online learning is a pain, but it gives me a chance to get my finances in order.

I have very few friends who are also military kids. The ones who are stopped relocating early into their childhood, and their parents are retirees. So as far as my immediate circle, I’m alone in this corner experience-wise. But I’ve got support, as well as a part-time job and a tuition payment plan.

Not to be redundant, but it really isn't all bad.


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