Going to College with Your High School Sweetheart

A man starting college with a girlfriend and hugging her from behind

michaeljung / Shutterstock.com

The summer after I graduated high school, I fell head over heels for the boy next door. We had not only grown up around the block from each other, we were in the same kindergarten class. We didn’t really know each other until senior year, though. That summer was filled with serendipitous coincidences, a spontaneous stroll in Central Park, and a first kiss that made the world melt away.

When it was time to move to college, he asked if he could apply to transfer to my school so that we could be together. It was the grandest, most selfless gesture anyone had ever made, and it scared me, but that’s love, right? Scary as anything and without a doubt magic.

When couples decide to go away to college together, it likely means that one person (or both) is giving up their dream school to be at the other’s. It’s a sacrifice that should not be taken lightly. Here’s what you and your significant other should discuss before deciding to enroll together.

A talk to have together...

  • Where will we be in the future? “Where do you see yourself in the future?” is a loaded question. Often, when the time finally comes, you aren’t anywhere close to where you imagined you’d be, but it’s important to voice your goals regardless. Talk about where you picture your career, home, and relationship heading in the next five years. Your aspirations don’t need to be set in stone, but defining the relationship is necessary.
  • How will we set boundaries? For it all to work and for you to enjoy your college career, what do you need? What does your partner need? How many times a week will you see each other? Will that be enough or will it be too much? Eventually, you may want to live together off campus, but it’s important to take time to develop friendships and participate in on-campus activities.

A talk to have with yourself...

  • What if? Life is full of what ifs, and at a time when you will be meeting new people and coming into your own, there is always a chance that the two of you will mature into different people and feel differently about one another. How will you cope with it? Will campus be large enough for you to separate yourselves if necessary? And without being a couple, will you still love the school?
  • Why do we want to avoid the distance? Why does the distance scare you? If it’s because you don’t want to be without that person, yes, that’s love! On the other hand, if you don’t want to live apart primarily because you’re afraid your significant other will cheat on you…that’s not a good enough reason to head to the same school.
  • Will each of us achieve our academic and career goals through this college? Aside from being with your significant other, what is the appeal of going to this college? Determine whether or not the curriculum fulfills your academic and career goals.
A girl standing in front of a window and wondering "should I go to college with my high school sweetheart?"

michaeljung / Shutterstock.com

Now, it’s time to weigh the decision. Maybe the relationship doesn’t make sense when you think of the future, and you decide to break up. Maybe you find a way to make it work at a distance. Maybe you both conclude that staying together and going to the same school is the best decision. If that’s the case, if you’re taking the leap for love, here’s how to focus in your relationship.

  • Communicate. Communication is the framework for all happy homes. When you feel unsure, upset, or uncomfortable, it’s important to voice that, just as it’s important to vocalize your feelings for one another. Be honest and open with each other because that’s what will keep you two strong and make going to the same college an enjoyable experience.
  • Trust. If you two have decided to make the sacrifice and go to college together, you have to trust one another. (That said, if he or she treats you poorly time and again, you shouldn’t trust so easily and you might reconsider your relationship.) I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, in a healthy relationship, you need your personal space to grow! Without trust, it’s nearly impossible to enjoy meeting new people and learning from new experiences.
  • Have your own life. Seriously, these are supposed to be the most fun years of your life, enjoy them! Try new things, join a club or a team, go on a road trip, and have a life outside of your relationship. Yes, you two are bound to have mutual friends, but be sure that you have your own close friends to confide in. If you’re going to the same college as your sweetheart, you’re probably hoping to spend years together, maybe even the rest of your years, which means that you don’t need to be together every second of college.
  • Make a tradition. Having one thing that you do together each week, like a study date or breakfast off campus, can make a big difference. It allows you two to have some bonding time but also lets you save other days of the week for friends, extracurriculars, or alone time.
  • Be understanding of each other’s growth. During college, you’ll learn new things about your subjects of study, but also about yourself. The same goes for the person you love. It’s the natural order of life, and it’s important to be open to change at this time.
  • Love. Making the choice to go to school together is a big step. Love each other and do it well. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is committing to a relationship at the same college, each of you needs to be completely honest and loving toward one another. If you start to notice your feelings fading with time, reevaluate and communicate for your sake and your partner’s.
    A boy driving a car and eating a sandwich with his girlfriend in the passenger seat.

    Martin Novak / Shutterstock.com

While I won’t tell you how the story ended for my college boyfriend and me (though, stay tuned; maybe I’ll reveal it in a future article), I can say this: He has been a huge influence in my life.

The decision to go to college together is a selfless and challenging choice. In order for it to work, be open and honest about your wants and needs. Most importantly, regardless of the decision, continue to learn and have the time of your life!

About Katelyn Brush

Katelyn likes learning, good health, traveling, and pizza on Fridays. Her mixed education, composed of SUNY the College at Brockport, a semester at a community college, and one abroad at the University of Oxford, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in English. College also gave her a few lessons in Taekwondo and sleeping in a hostel dorm with total strangers. She’s a yoga teacher, author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Signing Together: A Guide to American Sign Language for Everyone.” As a Student Caffé writer, she hopes to help you through the highs and lows of college with a laugh ... or 20.

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