What I Wish Parents Knew About College: A Student’s Perspective

January 6, 2019

Project by Olivia Paul

By Olivia Paul, Sophomore, Industrial Design

I never knew how much coming to MIAD would make me question my identity and familial relations. I’ve been groomed and nurtured by two loving beings: my parents. My thoughts and values are based on my upbringing with them. So, I have a good sense of who I am, right? Well, possibly… I’m still processing.

In my “Design and the Elastic Mind” class, we were given a prompt to create a narrative-driven piece. My inspiration came from “Lady Bird,” a 2017 American coming-of-age comedy-drama focused on the relationships that shape us, the beliefs that define us and the unmatched beauty of a place called home.

From this, I created “I Am My Mother’s Daughter,” a collection of lenticular photos [pictured right] that depict the personal narratives of different young women. I asked each woman, “How has your relationship with your mother changed since starting college?” Each photo seeks to highlight the subject and their disconnection from their mother since starting college life.

This project has helped me reflect on how our relationships with parents change when we go to college. Here are three pieces of advice I have for parents navigating this change:

  1. Give some space early on. It’s important for your student to feel like they have the space to become independent. Call maybe once a week, not every day.
  2. Understand your student’s schedule and studies. A way to stay involved is to ask about your student’s projects. You can even read a few books to learn the language of their art and design world.
  3. Communication looks different, but the love is the same. Although you may not be spending the same amount of time with your student, know that each individual is doing the best they can. And remember, there is always Skype/FaceTime!

College is a time for learning, growing and changing. Through my “Design and the Elastic Mind” class project, I took the time to understand my subjects emotionally and researching the process of making a lenticular image helped me create photography that was interactive in a way that I haven’t really seen before. After completing my project, I feel as though I’ve started to understand my own parental relationships since college better, and more honestly. So mommy, I love you! I’ll talk to you soon!

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