For many parents, the weeks leading up to a child’s departure to college can be full of emotion. Pride and excitement, sadness and worry, for both parents and child. The decision to go to an out-of-state college, further away from home, can amplify those feelings all the more. Parents and guardians, Here are some practical tips to help you navigate this big life transition and make the process a little easier on everyone involved.
One of the most important things to do when your child wants to go away for college is to create an open dialogue where your child feels supported to share about his or her transition. Express your pride and excitement in their decision, and let them know how much you support them — but also be open to talk about fears, worries, and sadness about leaving home. Try to lean towards positive and supporting to give your child the confidence they need at this time of transition, conveying your trust in their capabilities to go off and do well at school in a new state.
Help plan the move
Moving into a dorm still involves a lot of logistics. Step one? Make sure you print out the moving to college checklist so nothing gets forgotten. Then? Make it a team effort, as much as your child is willing, to get ready for the move. Offer a hand in packing boxes, organize a team of movers to ultimately take them to their destination, or even just make sure there’s pizza at the end of the day. Moving out for the first time inevitably feels a bit overwhelming, so be ready to support in whatever way your child expresses a need: logistics, food, or even just staying out of the way until they are ready for your help.
Pack a surprise “care package”
No matter how independent and mature your child may be, who doesn’t love surprise treats? Once settled into the dorm, it will be a welcome comfort to receive some of their favorite snacks, a roll of quarters for laundry, some photos of home, and a nice letter of encouragement. Whatever you think will be most supportive of your child that can fit in a reasonable sized box? They will appreciate it.
Make a schedule, but don’t get too attached
As your child settles in, he or she may want to schedule regular visits and phone calls with you to keep in close contact. But as the school year gets into full swing, you may find that your new student’s schedule starts to get full and calls and visits need to be rescheduled for this field trip or that rehearsal. Don’t take it personally — instead, see it as a good sign that your student is really diving into college life! For some students, one of the advantages of going to college out-of-state is the abundance of new activities and places to explore. Support your child in getting to know the area. Which brings us to…
Give your child space
Part of the joy (and terror) of fledging the nest is that first moment in flight. Going to an out-of-state school means your child has a little bit less of a “safety net”, and probably can’t easily come home on the weekends — and that might make for a few challenges right out of the gate. But trust that your child is mature, capable, and you’ve raised them well to handle themselves in this new situation. Give them space to explore, learn, and even make a few mistakes, and they will appreciate the trust that you show them later on. Of course, be available if they need help — but don’t assume until they ask!
If you won’t be accompanying your child on their move, make sure they are in good hands. Hire a team of professional interstate movers to load and unload your precious cargo and their belongings straight into the dorm room, and rest a little easier.