Imagine being stressed about your next exam. You go to the library, and sit down in a booth with your study partner: your mom.
Anna Caroselli is a 39-year-old junior nursing major. She started at Otterbein in Fall 2016 after taking all of her prerequisites at Columbus State Community College. During her first year, she began to make a place for herself. The next year is when her experience at Otterbein changed. Anna’s daughter, Gabriella Caroselli, also attends Otterbein. Gabby is a freshman zoo and conservation science major.
It’s not unusual for siblings and even spouses to attend the same college at the same time, but a mother-daughter duo is almost unheard of. Most people go to college to get away from their parents, but for Gabby, seeing her mom on campus is the highlight of her day. It seems strange, but for Anna and Gabby, it was the best decision they could have made.
Before Gabby enrolled, Anna’s experience at Otterbein was similar to that of a typical commuter student.
“I met a really good group of girls,” Anna said. “We studied together and hung out together and had a lot of fun. Because of them, I did really well last year.”
Anna was able to make Otterbein her home-awayfrom-home and start her journey to her career. Her choice to come to Otterbein was simple. After having Gabby at a young age, Anna wasn’t able to get the full college experience she wanted. Going to Columbus State before Otterbein wasn’t exactly what she expected college to be. With everyone commuting to school, it felt more like high school than college.
“I didn’t go back to school after having Gabby. I actually became a stay-at-home mom,” Anna said.
When Gabby started at Otterbein, Anna’s life at school began to change. She was able to experience dorm life without ever having to live in the dorms. Gabby and her mom even share a meal plan so that they can eat together whenever they are on campus at the same time.
“Those are little things that I would have never experienced if she wasn’t here,” Anna said. “Now I get to meet her friends and know more people here on campus. It’s comforting when you’re walking on campus and someone recognizes you.”
Although going to college with your mother might sound unappealing, having her mother here was a big reason why Gabby chose Otterbein. Along with the normal struggles of being a freshman, Gabby also went through the process of sorority pledging. Having Anna available when she needed her helped Gabby get through these difficult times.
“I knew that I would have a support system here,” Gabby said. “If I’m having a bad day it feels good to be able to lean on her because she understands what I’m going through.”
With her daughter being at the same school as she is, Anna can get caught up in Gabby’s experience and sometimes lose track of why she is here.
“Sometimes I let myself get overwhelmed with her schedule and what is going on with her and her keeping her grades up,” Anna said.
Despite these negatives, going to school together has brought Anna and Gabby closer. Attending the same college gives them a common experience that they can relate to on a deep level.
“I’m still her mom and I still need to be her parent, but sometimes I get to back off of that and just be her friend,” Anna said.
Watching her daughter grow and become an adult has been very rewarding for Anna.
Most of us could probably never imagine what it’s like to attend school with a parent. But for Anna and Gabby, going to school together has given them a chance to understand each other better.