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 helpful tips for siblings or other family members going to the same college and living on campus. For reference, my brother and I have an age gap of about 2.5 years and had our bachelor’s degrees conferred in the same year since I had to take medical leave.
Did your parents pressure you to attend the same college?
Not at all, though there was a period where they considered having us live in the same dorm building, which we weren’t interested in because we had different preferences for campus housing. I had already been attending college independently for three years by the time my brother was a student, so there was no pressure for him to “take care of me” because I have a disability. Ultimately, my brother chose to attend the same college as me because this college was the best choice for the major he was interested in, and he enjoyed visiting the campus during sibling weekend.
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Our housing arrangements
As mentioned, my brother and I had no interest in living in the same dorm building, but did choose buildings that were across from each other because they were in a convenient location on campus. Later on, my brother moved to off-campus housing that was about a mile from my dorm, though I never visited his apartment because it was difficult for me to walk down the stairs.
It’s worth noting that we did not have keys or building access to each other’s dorms, but we could get a resident director or another student to escort us into the other person’s building if we needed to get urgent access. We also had each other listed as emergency contacts in our university profiles.
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Campus move-in x 2: Handling dorm move-in day
When my brother and I both lived in on-campus housing/dorms, we had to figure out the logistics of how we would handle college move-in day and set up our dorms. Strategies that helped our parents move two kids into dorms at the same college include:
- Applying for early move-in so I could move in on the same day as my brother. This was approved by housing a few weeks in advance, and I did not have to pay extra for early move-in since this was a covered reason
- Renting a storage unit during the summer and storing items that would be used in our respective dorms. The storage unit was located a few minutes from campus and we dropped off a few bulkier items when my brother went to campus for orientation during the summer
- Not having duplicates of larger items. Our dorm buildings were across from each other so we could easily travel to the other person’s dorm as needed to borrow something. For example, I kept a printer in my room while he had the mini-fridge
- Packing items in clear plastic bins and labeling them. This ensured items went to the right dorm when we were unpacking items from the car
- Figuring out tasks that require additional assistance in advance. We budgeted time for my brother to move some items in my room that my parents couldn’t help with, and in return I set up his wireless devices on the campus wifi.
- Labeling items that needed to be unpacked ASAP. This included bed items, my fish tank, and things that would be needed for orientation the next day, like my band uniform or my brother’s ID packet. This helped us prioritize items more easily when unpacking
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Figuring out class schedules
When my brother and I were in high school, we had three classes together in a row, which led to many people believing we were twins despite being in different grades. This didn’t happen in college, as we majored in two very different things- his degree is in film, and mine is in data science. However, he did end up taking a few of the same classes and professors that I did for general education courses, and I helped him pick out a few elective courses by showing him how to search for special topics courses that cover more unique material than traditional classes.
The primary class buildings for data science and for film were across from each other, so my brother and I would see each other frequently on campus, even though our college was very large. When I had to attend classes remotely for the remainder of one semester due to chronic illness, my brother would deliver an iPod Touch with FaceTime on it to my classrooms so that I could attend class with videochat, and would pick up the device at the end of the class period.
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Having a car on campus and getting discounted parking
At my college, it’s uncommon for freshmen living on-campus to have a car since parking is more expensive. I don’t have a driver’s license due to low vision, so my parents decided it would make sense for my brother to have his car on campus so that we would be able to get to off-campus locations more easily. Since we both would be using the car, we qualified for a discounted carpool/shared car rate that was 40% off from the regular upperclassmen parking rate, and the car was registered on campus in my name for the first year so that we could get the upperclassmen rate- the freshman rate was more expensive.
There is one caveat I want to note about having the car registered in the older sibling’s name though- if parking tickets are issued to the vehicle, the ticket will be sent to whoever’s name is on the parking permit. I didn’t think about this when registering the car, and the parking office was very confused when I walked in with a blindness cane to contest the ticket.
Going to the dining hall
My brother and I both had the same meal plan, so would frequently meet up at the dining hall to hang out, sometimes meeting up with friends at the same time. The campus dining hall is a popular hang-out place for on-campus students, so we would frequently meet up there instead of visiting each other’s dorms. Another bonus for this is that we could text the other person and ask for food recommendations or figure out what sounds good to eat before class.
Hanging out with other friends
My brother and I have a few mutual friends, but generally hang out in separate friend groups, do different extracurriculars, and attend different social events. We’re still very close though, so we would typically talk or text every day and try to see each other every other day or so, though some of my other friends have mentioned meeting up with siblings only once a week.
Going on off-campus adventures
I tried not to rely on my brother as my personal taxi service, so I would still use campus shuttles and ridesharing services to get to various locations in the area. However, if we both needed to go somewhere, we would make plans to meet up and go to various places either by car or using alternative transportation. In one memorable instance, we used my ridesharing rewards points to go retrieve a towed car, then go out to dinner and Target.
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Dealing with emergencies on campus
My brother and I both had to deal with separate emergencies while living on campus, including one of us needing to evacuate a dorm and the other needing to go to the emergency room- thankfully, these two incidents did not happen simultaneously. In both cases, it was very helpful to have a sibling at the same college to help with figuring out what to do, including arranging for transportation, talking to campus staff on the other’s behalf, and calling parents for further assistance.
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Other tips for siblings going to the same college
- When visiting for Sibling Weekend, I had my brother meet with the advisor for the film program and attend one of the classes in the department so he could get more information about the program, which helped confirm his decision to choose this major.
- It was uncommon for my brother and I to meet someone who personally knew the other sibling at our college, though my brother did meet a few people who knew of me through my work with assistive technology and the fact I use a brightly colored blindness cane
- My brother did share a film production class with one of my best friends (who is two years younger than I am), but otherwise never had any classes with my friends.
- My parents made sure that my brother and I pursued separate interests and had our own unique college experiences- for example, my brother was part of a conservation program that involved spending the semester at a federal research lab
- I didn’t share any tips for college move-out because I had to take medical leave during the semester and move out of my dorm, so we never had to move out of dorms at the same time