Students navigate siblings’ college situations amid COVID-19

Michael Brenner (left), Carter Brenner (middle) and Blake Brenner (right) stand in front of the sign at the University of Miami, Florida. (Photo courtesy of Michael Brenner)

She’s used to spending time with her family at home. Over the many winters, they’ve always spent holidays together. This is how it’s been for junior Tess Madison her whole life, as the youngest of five siblings. 

However, with her oldest sibling already at college, the family she had been living with was cut in half. The six person family was now down to three, and Madison was about to begin a new, albeit more lonely, chapter of life.

Every year, younger siblings get left behind with older siblings going away to college and have to adjust to a new lifestyle.

Madison has siblings who are triplets that left for college this year. Her brother Canaan went to South Carolina, and her sisters Natalie and Grace went to Cincinnati and Miami University respectively, Madison explained.

Madison said that although she is sad she’s the only sibling left at home, she’s happy that she’ll be able to see them during breaks and visit them on campus.

“Being the only sibling at home comes with benefits,” Madison said. “I’m really happy that I don’t have to share a car anymore.”

However, when her siblings left for college, Madison initially felt lonely at their absence.

“When they left, I was very sad,” Madison said. “It was a huge adjustment for me since it was three of my siblings leaving in one weekend. I knew that it was going to be so quiet in my house, which was one of the worst parts.”

Sophomore Michael Brenner experienced the same sense of loss as Madison, with his older brother Carter going to Florida to attend the University of Miami.

“I was pretty sad when he left, but I realized I’ll see him again eventually,” Brenner stated.

Brenner stays in contact with his brother, who is now over 1,000 miles away from him. Although it may seem like an unusual form of communication, Brenner said he carries on one of his most cherished traditions with his brother.

“Around once a week, we play Xbox together. It’s the best,” Brenner said.

Brenner added that his brother leaving for college left him with some new opportunities.

“I get the Xbox all to myself now,” Brenner said.

Due to the coronavirus, not everyone has been able to start their college career as expected. Freshman Dylan Ryan has an older sister who will not be going to campus for at least the first semester of her freshman year. His sister Juliet attends The New School, which will do remote learning until Dec. 22, Ryan explained.

Ryan recalls his excitement before the virus, as well the sadness that came with his sister planning on leaving him.

“I was sad that I wasn’t going to see my sister as much anymore but happy that she was going to get to go to college,” Ryan said.

When the news hit that his older sister was going to be staying home, Ryan said he felt sorry for his sister instead of celebrating that she wasn’t moving out. 

“I was honestly disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to get the full college experience she deserved,” Ryan said.

Junior Louis Berger’s older brother Sam left for the University of Colorado Boulder this summer.

Berger said that he makes an effort to keep in touch with his brother and keep the strong bond that they have always had. 

“We FaceTime each other once or twice a week,” Berger said.

Berger added that the transition hasn’t changed their relationship at all, and they are still very close.

Instead of dwelling on the fact that he wouldn’t see his brother, Berger was optimistic about the opportunity his brother was getting.

“I was excited that he was going because he was excited that he was going,” Berger said. “I wasn’t really sad that he was leaving me.”