She will soon leave our nest

Feb 4 • Feature Story, ViewpointNo Comments on She will soon leave our nest

With our daughter off to university in the fall of 2020, Bruce and I will join the ranks of the empty nesters, and I will probably be found lying in Brenna’s bed, sobbing into her pillow and missing her terribly.

Yes, I plan on being an emotional wreck when we drop Brenna off in Waterloo. I will have spent 18 years getting ready for that moment, and no matter how many pep talks I give myself, it will be bittersweet.

As parents, we try to impress upon our kids that school is important to their future, and that hard work now will pay off in the future. We are incredibly proud that Brenna has a great work ethic, is smarter than Bruce and I combined, and the University of Waterloo recognized that fact. But why does letting them go to reap their reward have to be so hard?

Bruce generally chuckles when I cry at Hallmark commercials or tear up while watching Britain’s Got Talent and he throws me a box of Kleenex. Yes, I cry when sad, happy, scared, angry – pretty much the whole gamut of emotions.

If I had to lay odds though, I think Bruce might shed a tear or two when we have to leave our only child in the hands of strangers two hours away. We consider ourselves very lucky, however, to have a kid who wants to pursue higher education, and the resources (thank you, RESP) to be able to help send her.

University and college educations have become so expensive, it is a privilege not everyone can afford. With cuts to OSAP funding and backbreaking amounts of debt after four years, it’s a wonder kids go at all.

The recent push to get high school students into skilled trades is definitely needed and helping with funding will help many students take that step. Too bad education for all students isn’t funded in fields where grads are needed.

Often, you will hear about students who have paid the $40,000 to $80,000 to go to university, only to be told they won’t get a good job unless they get their Masters or PhD. There is no way after four years I would have signed up for more.

To help students out, many universities are offering co-op options for courses, allowing students to get on-the-job training and a foot in the door for after graduation. It’s nice to see them adapting and changing to meet the needs of students, and thankfully, Brenna was accepted into just such a course for Honours Biochemistry.

Scholarships are another story. Trying to find all the scholarships available out there – and apparently there are millions of dollars of them unclaimed each year – is a huge task. If there was a smart entrepreneur out there that could find all the local course-relevant ones out there so parents and students don’t have to, they could make a pretty good buck.

Hitting all the scholarship, award and bursary sites out there is a daunting task, and requires the patience of Job. Locally, service clubs such as the Kiwanis and LaSertoma have scholarships that you have to beat the bushes to get kids to apply to. If anyone out there does have scholarships available, why not let me know and we can get the word out in the paper to kids preparing to head off to school in the fall?

And if anyone, like my friend Annette Zimmer, has good advice on how to survive your first few weeks of an empty nest, I will be all ears. Perhaps a support group with wine and industrial-size boxes of tissue…

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