College Summer Break: Adjusting to the Challenges of Coming Home

African American woman is sending a text message on a mobile phone at home after returning home from college.Arriving back at your family home during college summer break can be great – seeing family and friends, taking a break from rigorous college life and generally taking it easy. However, there are some common problems which may arise. Here, we’ll tackle the most common, as well as some easy solutions to keep the peace.

House Rules

Obeying your family’s house rules was hard enough during high school. Nobody likes feeling controlled, and as we get older, the rules often seem like annoying obstacles to having a good time. After a whole year on your own, that annoyance can quickly turn to outrage the first time you’re reprimanded for coming in after curfew. While you can’t expect the rules to completely disappear, talking with your parents may help. Trust us – a calm, ‘adult’ discussion is far better than a screaming fight!

If a rule is bothering you, consider how reasonable it is from your parents’ perspective. Curfews are generally in place to keep kids safe and give parents peace of mind. However, expecting you to obey your old high school curfew is a bit unreasonable. Ask that it be extended, explaining that you’ve been living the college life for an entire year and feel that you’re responsible enough for the extra time.

If chores are dragging you down, consider changing them instead of blowing them off. You’re staying in your parents home for free, and so helping out is only fair. However, the world will not grind to a halt if you fail to make your bed each morning. Explain calmly that you feel like a little kid when you’re asked about small chores, and offer to take over something bigger, like doing the family’s grocery shopping each week. Not only will you come across as adult and responsible, but you’ll most likely get a free pass on those ‘kiddie’ chores.


Some parents are more goal-oriented than others. If yours are planning your Ph.D during the college summer break after your freshman year, conflict may arise. You want some rest – they want you to hit the books, preparing for entrance exams or picking up credits.

Even before you get home, have a calm, clear talk with your parents regarding your academic plans for the summer. Even if you don’t completely agree, this will cut down on surprises once you arrive. If you disagree strongly on something, talk it out. Listen to their side, but be sure they hear yours as well. They may fear that you’re slacking off – let them know just how hard you’ve worked. Remind them that you don’t want to burn out, and that you feel you need a bit of time off before starting back up again in the fall.


A lot’s gone on while you’ve been away – and some of it’s not so great. Perhaps your parents got a divorce or moved. A sibling may have completely changed (you probably did it at their age!) and seem like a total stranger. Likewise, college life may have dramatically changed your closest high school friends.

In most cases, changes simply require a few adjustments of your expectations. Siblings and friends are always changing – it’s simply easier to deal when you’re right there, watching the change. Try to seek out the good aspects of change instead of wishing things were the way they used to be. In addition, remember that you’ve probably changed a lot too!

In the case of a big, negative change like a troubled marriage, remember that it’s okay to distance yourself. Stay with friends, a sibling who lives on their own, or simply keep to yourself while at home to avoid the fighting. Talk with your parents individually, letting them know that you love them, but that their constant fighting is upsetting and you’d rather keep out of the issue.

Scheduling Conflicts

Your idea of a great summer vacation may involve loads of time with your friends, catching up and having fun. Your family’s expectations, however, may be quite different. Many students fight with their families over how they spend their time. Thankfully, there are easy ways to avoid the worst conflicts.

Before your arrive, let your family know that you plan on seeing quite a lot of your friends. To soften the blow, consider giving them a day or two of family time each week. They’ve missed you, and it’s not unreasonable to want you around. At the same time, stay flexible. If you miss a night of watching TV with your family, it’s not a huge deal. Bailing on the annual family-reunion barbecue, however, is a bad idea.


As much as your parents love having you around, they probably don’t love the idea of cooking your meals and doing your laundry as you become surgically attached to the couch. Pitching in is the responsible thing to do. As a bonus, it will show your newfound responsibility and make other adjustments far easier! Whatever your parents require should be met, since you are living in their home. If they don’t ask for a thing, it’s still a nice idea to contribute somehow. Pick up chores without being asked, offer to drive siblings or get a part-time job to help out with expenses. However you help out, it will be appreciated, and it will help to make your summer vacation easier on everybody involved!

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