my student experience

All in the Family

Finals are approaching – there are papers to write and tests to study for before heading home for the holidays. Once home, it will take a few days to adjust to living back under the family roof and following parental rules half-forgotten over the semester.

Siblings, once immature competitors for bathroom prep time and the bigger half of whatever was getting divided, look and behave slightly older. Strange things can happen when you leave home – people change, and more important, you change. It can be hard for others to know who you are now, and to appreciate the experiences that have been shaping you on that campus that suddenly seems far away.

But what if your sibling went to the same college? You'd have an instant ally, and complete understanding.

Seeing the Campus for the Woods

Kristin Wood '10 and Ben Wood '08 are one of eight pairs of siblings currently enrolled at Colby-Sawyer. Just as Ben knew the college was right for him when he visited with a friend in high school (a friend, incidentally, whose brother, sister and aunt attended Colby-Sawyer), Kristin was also attracted to the rural campus, small classes, and especially, the Nursing Program. Her brother's presence factored into her decision to attend, too.

The youngest of four, the only daughter, and a twin, Kristin was used to being around her close family, but she didn't want to go to the same school as her twin.

“If I went with my twin, I knew we'd have the same friends and would always be together, just like in high school,” says Kristin. “Ben's two years older, so I knew he could be there for me but we wouldn't stick together all the time. I applied to other schools, but I knew from the beginning that I wanted to come to Colby-Sawyer. I'd played in a basketball tournament here and thought it looked like a pretty cool school, and then Ben came here. The first time he came home as a freshman, it sounded like he was having a really good time, and that was something I was interested in.”

When Kristin asked if it would be okay if she applied to Colby-Sawyer, Ben said absolutely, that it would be even better if she were there. Better how?

“Well, better in that I'd know where she was going to school and what things she was getting into,” he says, smiling. Ben admits to having always looked out for his little sister, and her first year at college was no different.

“We hung out a lot more last year. I didn't have as much work and everything was new to Kristin,” he says.

“If I had a question about anything I'd call him first, obviously,” Kristin interjects. “I think my dad was really happy I was here with Ben, too.”

“Yeah, he knew it was secure, and a small school in the country so he wasn't worried about her going off to a city by herself. This year we run into each other, but considering how small a school it is, we don't actually see that much of each other. She's more into her own thing, her own network, but last year she didn't know as many people, so she hung out with me.”

“He helped me get my feet wet,” Kristin adds, “but sitting here right now, this is the most I've seen of him this week. Or even last week.” “I know,” Ben groans, with the weariness of a senior facing finals. “I've been doing so much work. Actually, we saw each other in the library yesterday.” “In passing,” Kristin reminds him. “Running into him on campus isn't going to surprise me; it's a pretty small place. But it's helped me be more comfortable here, knowing that I have someone I can talk to.”

Emerging as Adults

Though they may not see each every day, the Woods do make a point of scheduling lunch together now and again to catch up. They both see changes in the other, and that's brought them even closer. “He's more focused now,” says Kristin. “He always knew he wanted to be a psychologist, but now he knows even more what he wants to do with his life.”

“Going to college together, you actually get to see your younger sibling become an adult,” adds Ben. “We've gotten closer, but I also see her now as her own person, not just my little sister.” Part of becoming her own person, for Kristin, was choosing rugby over the equestrian team this fall.

“Our mom didn't want any of the three of us boys playing football or anything like that because it was too rough,” says Ben. “But her daughter, who'd had ballet and riding lessons forever, ends up playing rugby! And you know what? Mom comes to every game.”

The Woods suggest that not all siblings would do well going to the same college, but they're glad to be at Colby-Sawyer together.

“It's not normal,” says Kristin. “There are so many colleges out there, so why pick the same one? But Colby-Sawyer is perfect for Ben, and it's perfect for me.”

-Kate Dunlop Seamans