Lyndsey Wajert: Who says you can’t go home?

Being from the greater Philadelphia region, there are certain aspects of my life that I know I will never be able to change. For one, the Eagles will most likely never win a Superbowl, regardless of how well they start the season. I will never plan a day around seeing the Liberty Bell. Hometown favorites such as Bon Jovi songs will constantly be featured on the local radio stations even though the lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi, actually comes from Jersey.

One particular Bon Jovi song that I can’t seem to escape when in the City of Brotherly Love is the song, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” While this message is somewhat endearing and the chorus is annoyingly catchy, I now wonder about what to do when the answer to Bon Jovi’s question is simply, “my parents?”

Upon returning home for winter break just a few weeks ago, I found my parents deep in discussion about plans for remodeling the house. I figured they were looking to change the carpets or repaint the shutters, but to my utter shock they were actually conversing about what they wanted to do to my room.

We are college students, so most of us have heard the jokes about what our parents plan to turn our rooms into once we are out of the house. Some fathers want more room for exercise equipment or a home office, while there are mothers who claim the space for a craft room or storage. But what was so unnerving about this conversation was that this time, they were serious. So serious, in fact, that it involved measuring tape.

As a second-semester sophomore, I can’t say that I never imagined this day would come. My future winter and spring breaks will most likely be filled with trips to visit with friends or family in other states, while summers will be geared toward working or taking classes here in D.C. This means I may not be home for an extended amount of time in the near future. My parents pay for the house, so they are allowed to do what they want to my room.

But I can’t help but notice the sheer permanence of losing my bedroom, especially considering the truly disconcerting situation that is the job market. I find the future quite intimidating, and the growing number of college grads who are moving home is not doing much to allay my fears. Monster.com found in their 2009 Annual Entry-Level Job Outlook that about 40 percent of 2008 grads still lived at home with their parents, while 42 percent of the 2006 graduates surveyed said they were in the same situation. With the severity of the Great Recession, the massive amounts of student loans to pay off, and the high prices of living these days, moving back home after graduation is often the only option for a growing number of students.

Given all of these factors, what was once viewed as somewhat of an embarrassment for graduates and parents alike has now become just another aspect of the transition to adulthood. Parents are more willing to help their kids get on their feet after an unsuccessful job search or a difficult few months of managing bills and paying rent, but grads typically do find their own places within a few months or years. According to a 2008 Washington Post article, ” ‘Most returning grads move out within a couple of years,’ said Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, author of ‘Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens Through the Twenties.”

But if your parents are as enthusiastic about their future home improvements as mine seem to be, you may not have a room to return to after college. It is not that they want me to endure months or years of scarce food and dilapidated apartments. But they do expect me to embark on adulthood without even considering returning home as an option. In light of these recent developments, I will continue with my plan of maintaining my grades until graduation, saving up money for graduate school and hopefully, by then, the economic situation will have improved. Though I know parents want their kids to be both successful and independent after graduation, would it be possible to wait a little while longer to remodel your college student’s bedroom?

The writer, a sophomore majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.

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