Going away to college for the first time can be a very frightening process. You’ve left the security and comfort of being in your own home, being with family and friends, and sometimes most importantly, your pets. I have always been raised with a house full of assorted animals that I cannot live without. In preparing for the big transition of home life to academic life, it might surprise you that for many institutions of higher learning you may not need to be separated from your favorite pal.
Some colleges have dorms that are devoted to students who bring their animals along with them. Other colleges have a strict policy with bringing animals no larger than a goldfish. However, there is a third option, and that is the Emotional Support Animal. Granted there is paperwork to be filled out and college personnel to be interviewed by, but this is not a very difficult process. Additionally, a letter from a therapist indicating that the student would benefit from an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) while at college. At FGCU there are many dogs, cats, rabbits, and even some snakes living in the dorm rooms!
The students I have spoken to who have availed themselves of this option are all very happy that they took the time and energy to make having a pet on campus possible. Not only has it eased their transitions into the next chapter of their lives, but truly has given emotional support and comfort while away from home, sometimes for long periods of time. Another added bonus of having an ESA is each one of these people I talked to said it was a great ice breaker when people found out they had a pet in their room. It is a great way to meet and make new friends.
Since I've had my cat in my dorm, many random people I have never met before have knocked in my door and asked to play with my cat, Gizmo. They always tell me how they miss their animals and how they wish they could've brought them along. Taking Gizmo to college has made me feel like I brought a friend from home and made the transition into college much easier!