Wisconsin quadruplets take on 1st year of college — from their childhood home | Higher education


Pat followed. He was bound for Menomonie to attend UW-Stout, the furthest from home among the four. But what if he got sick? Or his roommate became infected with COVID-19? Would it be safe to come home after his grandmother, who was on oxygen, moved into their house in late August? The distance complicated things, and it was easier to complete the semester entirely online.

Ken was the last to decide to stay home. The most outgoing of the bunch, he longed for an on-campus experience. He’d received his No. 1 dorm choice at UW-Madison and had already started texting his assigned roommate. Both of them were on the same page when it came to the importance of wearing masks.

But as the summer wore on, Ken decided to stay put for safety’s sake.

“It definitely wasn’t an easy decision,” he wrote in a text message on the day he canceled his housing contract, just a week before move-in began.

As challenging as the semester was for the Forbecks, they had a silver lining few other freshmen had — each other.

Forbeck Quadruplets 02-12292020094907

“I’ve never had a normal college year so I don’t have anything to compare it to,” said Ken Forbeck, second from left. Three of his siblings, from left, Nick, Helen and Pat, lived at home this fall despite attending different schools.

‘Everyone is missing out’

Helen, Pat and Nick all decided on their colleges before the pandemic disrupted their senior year of high school.

Ken was torn between UW-Madison and Northland College, about an hour east of Superior. He went with Wisconsin’s flagship because it was much closer to home, offered better financial aid and was where his older brother, Marty, had just graduated from last May.

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