Tips to make the best of college moving day for freshmen and their parents by a mom who’s been there, twice.
Graduation and prom are over, Beach Week is just a Facebook memory and soon—too soon for many of us—you’ll load up your child and half her belongings and head for the dorm. For the freshman in your family, it’s a big step toward becoming a fully independent person. But for parents, it’s a heart-wrenching rite of passage to help usher our “babies” into adulthood. While you’ve probably figured out meal plans and written those first painful tuition checks, nothing quite prepares you for saying goodbye and leaving your child at her new dormitory, far from home. So here are just a few hints to smooth the process, for all of you.
Read Related: Taking a Child to College Tests a Mom’s Strength
WHEN YOU ARRIVE
There may be very few pluses to being freshmen but, you do move in before the upperclassmen. Sure, you’ll still get the smallest, least convenient rooms but, for a day or two, the campus will be all yours. This is a good chance for incoming students to get settled, learn the rules and find out where the laundry room is. This is also when campus fraternities and sororities to do their community service, which doubles as a recruitment opportunity. They’ll be there as you pull up; they’ll unload the car and carry everything to your student’s room.
Remember that the dorm room will be tiny, and shared with a stranger most likely met only via email. So here are some packing tips:
Encourage your child to contact her new roommate in advance and compare packing lists so that they don’t bring duplicates. If the dorm allows microwaves, they don’t both need to bring one. Ditto for things like coffee makers, computer printers, etc.
Remove half of what you’ve packed and leave it at home. It’s a dorm room, not a bedroom in your home. There is no walk-in closet of ample storage in the bathroom. There. Will. Be. No. Room.
Watch for sales on dark colored twin sheet sets. Why dark colors? Your child will do laundry infrequently. It’s gross, but that’s the way it is and you won’t be there to remind her.
Take seasonal clothing only. There will be limited hanging space, limited drawer space and no place for storage except under the bed. There’s this wonderful service available at most colleges. It’s called mail, run by the USPS. As the weather changes, you and your child can mail clothing back and forth, or you can take up a load of stuff on parents’ weekend. Just don’t try to take a full year’s worth of clothes all at once.
Take a tool box and plan on leaving it there. Your student will need basic stuff, like a couple of screwdrivers, pliers, a small hammer and a wrench or two.
Invest in picture/poster hangers that can be removed without leaving a mark. Every nail hole in the wall will come out of your security deposit.
Let the kids be kids. Give your student and her new roommate the freedom to set up their own space as they like, even if you can’t stand the sight of one more Drake or Lady Gaga poster.
MAKE A CLEAN BREAK
Be prepared to leave with as little emotion as possible. Maybe stay for lunch, make sure your child has what she needs, and then make a clean break. She’s thrilled with her new independence and is presumably where she should be, and it’s time for both of you to move on. Stop on the drive home and have a leisurely dinner, secure in the knowledge that there’s no rush to make it to soccer practice. It’s a new adventure for you; another milestone reached. And as you drive away, don’t be surprised if your child is out of sight before you get your seat belt on. It’s a new adventure for her, too.