Most parents can agree: it’s not easy sending your child off to college. The truth is, it’s not easy for the students either. It wasn’t that long ago that my parents were moving me into my freshman dorm—it was a quick process full of high emotions and multiple goodbye hugs. Not to mention, there was so much to unpack and adjust to almost immediately. Yet, each year got a little easier—you quickly learn from the previous years what works and what doesn’t. If you’re moving your child into a new dorm for the first time, there are a few tips to help get you started.
So, in recognition of National College Colors Day, let’s chat and chew about how to make move-in day a success for college students and parents alike!
Don’t be tardy. Move-in day can be an absolute circus; there’s no shortage of new students, parents, trucks, and Target’s entire back-to-school line for miles. If you’re provided with a window of time to arrive at the dorm, make it a priority to be there by that designated time—but if possible, even earlier. The longer you wait, the less parking there is, time to walk around and get your bearings, and most importantly, give a proper goodbye.
Ask for directions on move-in procedures. Whether you’re asked to pull up and unload your car in front of the building, or you have to park and use carts or bins to move things, most schools have a pretty efficient process in place. If you’re lucky, there might even be a group of students available to help unload and carry things! Check ahead of time, so you can get started immediately when you arrive.
Check the list twice. While it’s easy to run out to the store and pick up a few things after moving in, settling into a new environment involves a little more preparation. Before heading home, make sure your child gets a student picture I.D., is provided with a room key and building fob, and has all necessary paperwork filled out (i.e. health records, insurance). Next, set up televisions and computers properly, get Wi-Fi credentials, set up bank accounts if needed, check meal plans, and of course, take care of purchasing (or renting) textbooks. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask a Residential Assistant (RA) for help.
Introduce yourself to your student’s roommate and family. The reality is, every family with a first-time college student is going through the same emotions. You want to know your child is safe, so feel free to exchange information with your child’s roommate’s family in case of emergencies.
Patience is key. If you’re the first to arrive, it’s encouraged that your child wait till their roommate arrives to discuss who gets what part of the room. If possible, have your child deal with these details ahead of time—Facebook makes it very easy for students to track down roommates these days! The more your collegiate can do to prepare beforehand, the easier your life will be throughout the day. Also, on the topic of dorm rooms, make sure your child asks about completing a room damage form. Make note of any damages present at the time to avoid being charged at the end of the year.
Leave worry-free. There’s always some tension and awkwardness after everything is moved in and your child is ready to enjoy their newfound freedom. While I was sad to see my parents go, I can’t deny how excited I was for college to begin. A few suggestions for the final goodbye include:
- Celebrate one last family dinner the night before moving in, or a few days before the big day. Trying to tie that into move-in day is never going to work. Parents are tired, kids are excited, and there are too many distractions.
- The less you linger the better. Some school’s plan a kick-off event for new students, but if there’s nothing on the schedule, use your best judgment for when the right time to leave is.
- Never underestimate the power of parenthood. Kids may not show it, but they are just as nervous when you leave campus. While they have tons of new experiences ahead, there’s a comfort in knowing your parents are only a few feet away at home. Getting in the college-groove comes with a lot of calls home, so expect many updates the first few weeks!
Move-in day is the first step on your college student’s road to independence. After you’ve done everything you can to help make the transition, be assured you’re job is complete—at least for a couple days. Now’s the time to focus on being proud of your new student and enjoy hearing all about their new, temporary, home! Have some move-in day suggestions of your own? Feel free to share below in the comments section.