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.
Did your parents pressure you to attend the same college?
Not at all, though there was a period of time 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, though I did appreciate him having a car on campus as this made getting places outside of campus a lot easier. Ultimately, my brother chose to attend the same college as me because they were the best choice for the major he was interested in.
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 first year, he was a pro and even was helping me locate buildings!
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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, and in turn I was able to help with a late-night technology issue and show him how to use the campus printers.
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Having a travel buddy/human guide
Traveling with low vision can be a bit unpredictable. This is true 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.
Even though it wasn’t in the context of disability, I have been able to help my brother with tasks that he wasn’t sure how to handle as well, including retrieving a towed car, visiting county offices, and going to specialty stores.
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You can learn cool things from them
My brother and I are in two different majors. However, 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.
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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.
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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 figure out the bus schedule and skip class. 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.
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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.
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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. I 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.
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They have the opportunity to be a good influence on each other
My brother and I hold each other accountable for tasks related to finishing homework as well as activities of daily living, and have both been able to be a positive influence on each other. Even if one of us makes a mistake or ends up in a difficult situation, we know that the other one will be there to help without judgment.
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.