Oh, the dreaded “college drop off.” It’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. It reminds me of when I put the boys on the bus for the first time in kindergarten. I had conflicting feelings of pride, fear, relief, sadness and joy.
Gabe, the oldest of my 2 sons, went to college close to home so when we moved him into the dorm we knew we could see him whenever we wanted. With busy careers and just plain life, it wasn’t as often as I thought it would be.
We lost our dog Cocoa the day we moved Gabe into the dorm. Cocoa was 13 years old, and we actually got him when Gabe was in kindergarten. It was fitting that he passed when Gabe moved – like Cocoa had “raised” his boy and was ready to go. It was so sweet.
Of course that made our goodbyes at the dorm so much more bittersweet. We all sobbed and sobbed. The following year when we moved him in, we chuckled at how emotional we were, but had no regrets.
Ben, on the other hand, went to college far away. It’s very difficult to describe how to prepare yourself for that. I leaned on my prayers and tried to understand that I did all I could to prepare him for the next chapter in life. It is time to let them go but it doesn’t change the fact that you love and support them.
After all the research, planning, discussions and hard work to pick the right college, we all want the transition to be smooth once you get there.
Here are a few tips from my experiences and those around me:
- As a starting point, use the list created by the college of what to bring (and not bring) to the dorms. Then create your own list. I bought everything on the list for Gabe and even items on other lists I found online. We learned that he didn’t need everything. So, go over the list with your child and select necessities.
- Check the school’s calendar early for key dates of when you can sign up for orientation, meet with an advisor and schedule classes, as well as details for move-in dates, times and rules (i.e. where to park).
- Find out what healthcare options are available including the days and times the clinic is open. Also, make sure your child knows where the clinic is. Make sure your health insurance is updated and that the school has a copy of your card. Some schools will provide temporary health insurance for students if you need it.
- Buy books and school supplies.
- Fill out your FAFSA if you haven’t already and check when tuition is due.
- Have a heart to heart conversation about expectations and doing your best. This includes helping them acknowledge time management.
- If they have a chance to talk to their roommate ahead of time this is a good way to break the ice in the beginning.
- Pack up the car and go.
- When it’s time to say goodbye, say goodbye and go. You will probably cry like I did – with visions of your little one waving at you from the school bus – but rest assure they are about to embark on the best times of their life.