In spring, love is in the air, everywhere you look. The fruition of this love exists in the many baby birds calling from their forest homes, chirping from their cozy nests. Mommy and Daddy bird constantly dote on them, bringing them all their necessities so they need not leave the safety of the nest in their vulnerable, unskilled state. Once the windy, rainy spring gives way to the hot, lazy days of summer, however, those baby birds will get the boot.

Now picture high school students. Starting my freshman year, I was vulnerable. The new hefty homework load was taking its toll: I got less sleep, worked more and played less than I ever had before. It was rough. That’s where Mommy and Daddy bird came in. After a particularly work-heavy week, for example, I could count on a mental health day, home from school. During that time I would catch up on sleep, watch television, or just relax. Throughout high school, whenever I was chirping for some food or some love, Mommy and Daddy provided.

While this isn’t the case for everyone, it certainly is for many high school students. They are provided everything from the basics like food and shelter to the extras, like senior trips and cars. Often they take this for granted – until they get the boot out of the nest, that is.

For many, this metaphorical “boot” is the big kick to college. While many prospective college students are happy to go, often they don’t fly far from the tree: they stay close to home or stay in-state, not too far from the comforts of home. They grab onto that nest as they’re being pushed out, clinging with tiny claws while their parents peck at them in a gallant effort to make them leave.

The problems with this clingyness are simple. If you still feel as if you’re at home, you don’t experience the same loss of comfort that is an essential part of the full college experience. Instead of being motivated to meet new people, you go home on weekends. Your mom or dad continues to do your laundry, and that tie that needs to break so you can spread your wings and fly to the sky – that tie remains, and you’re hanging on the phone line with Mommy every night.

When I went to college, I moved 2,000 miles away. I was not pushed out of the nest; I leapt as far as I could of my own free will, and I’m all the better for it. The rocky relationship I had had with my mother vanished. Unlike a mother bird, she was averse to letting me go, but has now come to appreciate the fact that, except financially, I’m on my own and making my own decisions. She has gained a respect for me I, in turn, have come to appreciate more her wiser, more experienced advice. This would not have happened had I stayed close to home, constantly in driving distance of a laundress or a home-cooked meal. I got the full migration experience: I left the nest and landed myself a successful first year at college.

Instead of playing it safe, close to home, I took the big leap of faith and flew away. For me, that’s what college is all about.