Student Affairs Blog: Everything I Need to Know About Dropping Off A College Student I Learned By Dropping Off My Kindergartner
August 15, 2017
By Dr. Kristen Alley, Dean of Student Affairs
Well, not EVERYTHING. This year will mark my 25th year of move-in days and helping students and families begin their college careers. This year also marks the day my son starts kindergarten. Sniff. For those parents fretting move-in day, I’d like to share some tidbits I picked up along the way thanks to experience and some very patient professionals at our local school…who didn’t roll their eyes…at least in front of me.
- It’s a bit chaotic the first day. Embrace it. If you want everything to be perfect and have those Hallmark moments, it’s not going to happen. Enjoy the chaos and the memories that will surround it.
- Bring all required school supplies and please label them. Books, a laptop, and other supplies will be needed.
Students should be prepared and save for these expensive items. Taking care of them, including writing down serial numbers and locking your dorm room are good ideas.
- Put a note in their lunchbox. Or perhaps under a pillow or somewhere where they’ll find it easily. Move-in day
is emotional for all parties and you may not be able to say what you’d like to say at the moment of departure, so write it down. I promise you they will read and re-read it throughout the semester.
- Trust. Trust the staff. Trust the job you did in raising your child. Trust that tears are okay and trust that they will miss you as much as you miss them.
- Dress like a superhero. Maybe don’t take this one literally, but your child may be anxious, nervous, and even doubtful of their ability to manage this new world. Demonstrate nothing but confidence in their capabilities. This includes late night, “the-sky-is-falling-and-I-just-want-to-come-home” phone calls. Empathy and encouragement without rescuing are crucial.
- Encourage them to introduce themselves to classmates, hallmates, teachers, etc. It’s a new experience for everyone, so there’s no need to be shy. Encourage them put down their phones, get to know others and develop a support system at school. They will meet people raised differently, with different outlooks, beliefs, and talents, potentially from different parts of the world. They should get to know them. It’s one of the best parts (and privileges) of going to college.
- Conversations about courtesy, safety and responsibility should take place early and often. Self-respect, respect for others and respect for their future should be discussed. Talk about what you would like them to do to avoid trouble and what they should do if, on the off chance, they find themselves in trouble.
- Maybe they’ll remember their gym shoes, maybe they won’t. Let them make decisions and give them room to make mistakes. That’s how most of us learn.
- Joining the PTO is a good thing. Dictating the bus route…not so much. Parent involvement is appreciated! It’s important to keep in mind that colleges and parents share the same goal – to graduate happy, healthy, productive people. Providing general guidance, friendly reminders regarding important deadlines, etc. can be good. However, please note previous tip.
- The child you send on the first day is not the child that will return at the end of the year. As a result of collective effort, your child will learn, grow, and mature. Be willing to re-negotiate rules and acknowledge their growth.
- Feed them when they come home, hug them when they want it and especially when they don’t, and understand that once in a while ice cream for supper nurtures the soul.