Flying the nest

Every spring, I watch the fledglings in my garden try to fly off and join the world of adults. Some make it, some don’t. That same feeling hits me at this time in May when I contemplate the future of my final year undergraduate students, most of whom are seriously exhausted after the mad dash of dissertation hand-in, major project deadlines and now their panic over the last hurdle- their exam on Monday.   What words of advice can I offer my fledglings?

First of all, don’t expect to do it all overnight. No one springs into perfect solo flight. There are going to be bumpy rides, crash landings and not a few ruffled feathers. Lots of occasions when you apply for jobs and don’t even get the courtesy of a reply, let alone an interview.  Don’t despair; everyone has their own flight path, and it rarely goes in a straight line.

Second- don’t leave the university nest only to try to climb back into another nest. Some students will go home for the summer and slip back into old habits. Squeezing back into your old childhood home can be tempting, but difficult, when parents have gotten used to not having you around.  I watch the baby birds mobbing their parents with beaks wide open, screaming “feed me!” and find the parent birds’ resentment builds, until eventually they turn nasty and chase the baby bird away. Tough love, but it seems to work for them.

Thirdly, now that I have the advantage of knowing alumni who graduated five years ago and have gone on to successful careers, I can say to this year’s crop of fledglings- relax, you’ll make it. I know you all well enough to have faith. Stay in touch with me and each other, so you can get the support you need to make this the most exciting time of your life. Take off and enjoy the ride!

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About catherinesweet
Academic, professional, communicator, stakeholder in a dozen different disguises

One Response to Flying the nest

  1. If you think the average 21/22 year old student has it hard with parents, they might try living with their parents at 26 after being independent for seven years! Still, it makes sense for the immediate future after university, and my parents are completely to blame for having a house so incredibly close to London with convenient transport links!

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