- Associated Press - Monday, August 4, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) - The longest they have ever spent apart from each other was 10 days, but now they are heading to colleges in separate parts of the country.

Identical twins and recent Columbus North High School graduates Megan and Elizabeth Pan will start their studies at Indiana University in Bloomington and Brown University in Rhode Island, respectively, in a few weeks.

The schools are a 15-hour drive - or a $300 plane ticket - apart.

Joan Friedman, a psychologist and twin expert, said college is often a tough decision for twins.

“Twins are fiercely loyal to one another, no matter their ups and downs,” Friedman said. “When one twin makes a decision that is going to impact the other, they are very reticent to articulate what they feel and what they want for fear of hurting their twin.”

That was not exactly the case for Megan and Elizabeth Pan, the twins said.

Megan applied to Brown University also, but they both recognized that they needed to choose individual programs for their career interests and passions.

For Megan Pan, that meant finding a school that has strong music and business programs. In those areas, it is hard to beat Indiana University, which houses the No. 1-ranked Kelley School of Business and the Jacobs School of Music.

Elizabeth Pan was drawn to Brown for its open curriculum. She’ll study health and human biology, but she will have complete freedom to design her own schedule aside from that. The school also has been recognized by Princeton Review for having the happiest students, which she said was a definite plus.

But they said they will still miss each other and will rely on Skype to stay connected.

Being a twin has been a blessing, they said.

“It’s driven us to be more competitive,” Megan Pan told The Republic (http://bit.ly/1qLMyex ). “There’s someone there to push you but also to support you. It’s really nice.”

And Elizabeth Pan said they can just be themselves around each other.

“You don’t have to worry if they’ll judge, and there’s never an awkward silence,” she said.

They are not sure they would have landed in their respective schools if it were not for each other.

They inspired each other to be the best they each could be. That meant competing in figure skating and playing in the school band. They both volunteered their time in various organizations including Operation Christmas Child and elementary school reading programs.

They both secured internships at SIHO this summer, where their desks are situated just steps apart.

And they pushed each other to excel academically - as evidenced by their high school rankings.

Megan Pan graduated at the top of her class at North, and Elizabeth Pan finished her high school career not far behind at No. 7.

“Megan’s placement does not influence where I want to be,” Elizabeth Pan said. “I want to do the best I can do, not the best Megan can do.”

Although they have some apprehension about going off to college alone - roommates, mostly - there’s one thing they are both looking forward to: establishing independence.

“We’re always being compared: Who’s going to do better?” Elizabeth Pan said. “It doesn’t need to be that way at college.”

___

Information from: The Republic, http://www.therepublic.com/

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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