When going away to college, many students hug their families goodbye and have little contact with them during the year, but in the Schille family, four siblings are attending BYU at the same time.
The culture of BYU and Latter-day Saint living seems to have conspired to allow the siblings from Federal Way, Wash., to be together. Justin, 25, and Colton, 23, served missions, allowing their younger sisters Caitlin, 20, and Megan, 18, to catch up academically. The rigors of the business school kept Justin at BYU long enough to ensure that he could take care of his little sister when she arrived.
“We didn’t drive Megan down to school like we did the others,” Jeri Schille, the students’ mother, said. “She was upset at first, but then we reminded her that she has three siblings there to pick her up.”
The Schille kids are very close, even joking about opening a business together eventually. Their fondness for each other is often expressed through playful teasing.
When Megan, a new freshman, arrived at school this summer, she realized that she didn’t have a toothbrush. She asked Justin to get one for her, and he did, but he stuck the still-packaged toothbrush in the dirt outside her apartment building. Megan found it easily enough and claims that any pranks are just a sign of the older students’ affection for their baby sister.
“They hate me because they love me,” she said.
Justin, a business major; Colton, a nutritional science major; and Caitlin, a public health and epidemiology major, are all graduating this coming April. Even when there were only three siblings at school together, they made sure to spend time together, playing games and sports and having frequent dinners.
Now that all four are attending BYU, it isn’t always possible for one to get in touch with the others, even though they all live in the same town. Justin plays on a baseball team, and so far none of his siblings have made it to his games, but his siblings refused to take the blame.
“We tried — you never told us when they are,” all three said.
Despite their busy schedules, the Schille siblings try to stay involved in each other’s lives. When Megan came to school, her brothers gave her a few dating rules: she has to tell them the name of every boy she dates, and she’s not allowed to date any boys. The brothers’ humorous attempts to stay involved in Megan’s life show how much they care for their younger sister.
Having more than half of their family at one university creates a type of social safety net for the Schille kids, who joked that they view each other as a “support system if the other plans fall.”
“Megan called me and asked me to ‘hang out,’ which meant I had to buy her dinner and let her swim in my pool,” Justin Schille said.
The siblings say they have always been close, even when they were growing up. They attribute their companionship to their upbringing. They talked about the appreciation and respect they have for their parents, who made great efforts to teach them and encourage them to succeed. Their mother, Jeri, taught them to read before they went to kindergarten, and each graduated in the top ten of their class in high school. They were also taught to be extremely competitive, sometimes making family game nights intense.
“Colton went to Germany on his mission, and I know a little bit, so we try to use German code words during games — but Megan still wins!” Caitlin Schille said.
The four have similar interests and academic goals, but each has cultivated talents that allow them to stand out. Justin and Caitlin are the athletes, while Colton plays the violin and Megan dances.
For the Schille siblings, maintaining the family bond is extremely important. From the time they were children, they have been more than siblings. They are friends. As children, they threw around footballs and played games in the backyard. As adults, they support each other in school and in life, and will continue to do so as their futures progress.