Over the years, I have met many older siblings who refused to let their younger sibling attend the same college as they did, because it was “their” school and they couldn’t even fathom having their sibling sharing the same space as them, no matter how large and diverse that space may be. However, when my younger brother and I discovered that we shared the same top choice for college, we decided to embrace this and never hesitated about our decision to go to the same university, and even live across the street from each other. Today I will be sharing ten benefits of having a sibling or family member at the same college and how having my brother on campus has helped me. It’s worth noting that unlike me, my brother has eyesight corrected to 20/20, and we have an age gap of about two and a half years.
We already knew the university well
Obviously, since I had attended the same university for three years by the time my brother showed up, my family knew the ins and outs of navigating our university and how to deal with technical things like paying tuition and selecting housing. However, my brother would come visit me once a year for a siblings-only weekend and would spend that time getting to know campus and learned how to get around easily and what dorm life was like. By the time he started his freshman year, he was a pro and even was helping me locate buildings! Read more about navigating campus here and ten questions to ask when choosing a university here.
They’re just a short walk/drive away if you need them
After my first band rehearsal of the new season, I came back to my dorm dehydrated and completely exhausted with no energy to go to the dining hall. My brother was happy to go fill up my water bottle and bring me cold ice water so I wouldn’t wake up with a migraine. I’ve also been able to help many times with technical support issues and have been overall happy with him living close by. Read more about important technology skills to have for university here,
Having a travel buddy/human guide
Traveling with a vision impairment can be a bit unpredictable, whether you are going all the way across the country or just one town over. My brother has helped me at different assistive technology events and meetings by carrying things, calling on people to answer questions, reading small print, and helping to guide me around crowded areas. He’s been helping me navigate places as long as I can remember, and he understands perfectly how my fluctuating vision loss works without me having to apologize or explain why I act a certain way. Read more about being a human guide here.
You can learn cool things from them
My brother and I are in two different majors, but both of our majors often intersect in surprising ways, so we have had many different opportunities to collaborate and work together. For example, in one of his classes he has had the opportunity to work on a project highlighting unemployment rates for people with disabilities, as well as a debate about strobe lighting effects in movies. In the meantime, I have used his expertise in comedic writing and photography to help me in my classes and managing my website- many of his jokes have found their way into my blog posts, and I’ve been able to take much better photos thanks to him as well. Read more about how unexpected strobe lights in a movie gave me a migraine here.
Figure out what classes and professors are the coolest
I’ve taken quite a few cool classes over the last few semesters, and I was very excited to recommend the same classes and professors to my brother when it came time to sign up for classes. I also knew what buildings were relatively close together, how to space out classes, and lots of other information that was highly beneficial for the scheduling process, and I know he definitely appreciated it. Read more about how to schedule university classes here.
Providing assistance for medical-related things
One time, I managed to lose my medication, as well as the backup package of said medication. Needless to say, things were very stressful and I had to get an emergency refill. If my brother wasn’t there, I would have had to see if there was a time where the bus schedule did not overlap with my class schedule and make my way down there, since I didn’t feel comfortable asking a friend to drive me. Since my brother was there though, the entire adventure took less than thirty minutes and I was able to get my medication quickly and easily. Read more about handling medical emergencies in university and the time I rode in an ambulance here.
We can get places more efficiently
Usually if I need something from the store, my brother needs to get something too, and is always more than happy to go with me or just get whatever I need. It’s also easier for my parents since they only have to drive to one location to come get both of us, and they can get away with only mailing one box of stuff from home instead of two separate boxes. It also provides my parents peace of mind that I’m not going places alone, since he can walk or drive me places after dark if I need to get something. It’s much easier than calling a security escort- read more about ten reasons to call a security escort here.
Someone to go to the dining hall with
“Hey, did you have anything good for lunch today? I’ve asked my brother this question more than I care to admit and have also texted him about exciting foods that I tried and thought he should too. Not a lot of people like to eat alone, so we also try to meet up at least a couple times a week for breakfast or dinner and talk about our days. This is a great social opportunity, and our parents always enjoy hearing that we aren’t just hiding out in our rooms.
A way to make more friends
Some siblings will only talk to each other at university and isolate themselves from others, but I have found that is rarely the case. While my brother and I have some mutual friends, for the most part we hang out in our own separate friend groups. We’ve been able to introduce each other to several of our friends that we wouldn’t have been able to meet otherwise and go to different events that we wouldn’t have otherwise heard about- like how he accompanied me to a disability fair. Learn more about being an ally to disabled friends here.
They have the opportunity to be a good influence on each other
No matter how many family members go to the same university as them, a student is bound to make mistakes and stupid decisions along the way, just like everyone else. By having a sibling or other family member on campus, the student is able to overcome hardships and obstacles with a familiar face nearby and has the opportunity to rehabilitate and become a better student, as opposed to being outcast and potentially sent to a different university where the problem might not even be solved. The student can be comforted with the knowledge that their family member or student will not judge or shun them like friends might, and will instead do anything that they can to provide a strong support network and help them survive and thrive in their university years.
I have been so grateful to have my brother attend the same university as me, and I look forward to the day when we can both proudly say that we are alumni of the same university and have gone on to make an incredible difference in this world in our own unique ways- who knows, maybe we’ll even have our own joint photo on the alumni wall of fame! The benefits of having a sibling or family member on the same campus have been invaluable, and I look forward to having him on campus with me for more adventures in semesters to come.