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How Working with Kids Made My College Transition Easier

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

During my first semester of freshman year, I grappled with the usual challenges students this age face — making new friends, balancing school work with social life, managing your time without parental supervision — but the challenge I found most harrowing was accepting the realization that my childhood was over. As much as I enjoyed meeting new people and getting to experience the freedom of adult life, a small part of me was constantly missing my family, my friends, and the simple pleasures of my youth. I spent more time than I’d like to admit crying over my childhood friends and experiences and feeling unfulfilled by the new ones that filled my life.

I had heard that getting involved makes the college campus feel smaller and that the busier you are the less time you have to grow homesick, so I went to Virginia Tech’s club fair, GobblerFest, looking to join anything I could think of. I always enjoyed babysitting and working with kids, so I signed up for College Mentors for Kids, a club that pairs you with a local elementary school student to mentor in weekly meetings. I reasoned that, at the very least, this club would give me a reason to leave my dorm room. However, I soon found that it benefited me in more ways than I imagined.

Amidst a million superficial concerns of stressing that I wasn’t making enough friends, worrying about boys, and comparing myself to girls my age on social media, I found that playing freeze-tag on the drill field and making cut-out pumpkins with six-year-olds helped pull me back to earth. College can feel suffocating at times, since you are constantly surrounded by people your age, so spending an hour or two with a kid who didn’t care if she got marker on her outfit or if her hair grew tangled from cartwheeling helped break the echo chamber and remind me that there is a world beyond my college campus. Not only that, but it allowed me to get back in touch with the parts of my childhood that I was mourning, and it made it that much more enjoyable when the hour was up and I returned to the adult life of freedom that had seemed so overwhelming before.

I know not everyone enjoys working with children as much as I do, but even just allowing myself to engage in activities that most people deem “childlike” made the transition into adulthood less jarring. Now, even when it’s not my day to mentor, I choose to make time for activities that pull me away from my collegiate concerns by spending time outside, drawing, and watching tv shows and movies from my childhood. I think it’s important to remind yourself that getting older and entering a new chapter doesn’t mean you have to abandon the joy of the old one, and that is exactly what College Mentors for Kids and the students involved helped me realize.

Erin Kearns

Virginia Tech '26

Erin is a Sophomore at Virginia Tech studying English. She works on the writing and editing team for Her Campus, and her hobbies include reading, painting, guitar, and photography.