Move-In Day

It’s Freshmen Move-In Day on my campus. It’s probably move-in day on many campuses today or at least it’s the season for it.   Dropping your freshmen off at college for the first time can be full of emotions.  Both parents and students can be feeling anxiety, uncertainty, and excitement.  These feelings are not uncommon.

Recently, on Facebook, I have seen posts from parents who are letting their children go.  This is a big step for everyone.  However, I hope it will not be a grief stricken process for parents.  I have seen a couple of posts that parents (more so moms) have admitted to a sense of pain in this process.  It’s ok to acknowledge that you will miss your wonderfully beautiful child. However, this should be a time for joy and celebration.  Joy, happiness, and pride should outweigh grief.  Think of all the hard work you have put into this moment.  Think of the fact that you are having this moment (not everyone gets to have it).  You are blessed!  Your children are succeeding.  Take a moment to focus on that.

I try to remind parents that they put their kids on the bus for kindergarten, and everyone survived.  There may have been anxiety, uncertainty, and excitement then too, but you all did okay.  Your children were prepared and ready to go because of the good work you had done in the first four years of their life. Perhaps some of these same children participated in sleep-away camp.  You dropped them off and came back a week later.  They were fine.  Maybe stinky and dirty, but fine. Do you remember the excitement in their voice as they told you of their experience? Now, I know your 18-year-old will not return at lunch time or even around 3 pm.  Most will not come home after the first week.  Many of you may say to me, “Yes, but that was only for a morning or that was just for one week.”  At the time, it seemed bigger then.  In addition, you would never drop a five-year-old off for college.  Why?  Because they are not developmentally ready.  However, most 18-year-olds are developmentally ready for university life.  Your child is probably one of them. Most of them will soon be telling you, with excitement, all of the new people and things they are meeting and doing.  And, I am confident that you have given them all the tools they need to do their best.

Orientation teams across the US work hard to keep kids busy those first few days for a smooth transition. Higher Education professionals do their best to help students make the transition from high school to college.  It is a big step, but we’ve got it!  In fact, many schools have programs specifically for freshmen during their first semester or the entire year, to encourage college success. If you think your student isn’t thriving after the first month or so, talk to them.  Campuses are full of resources.  Point out opportunities for them to get involved or where they can go for help.

Parents, being dropped off at college is not the same as when you were 18. Students are much more connected with their parents than they were 30 years ago.  Make a plan to touch base regularly.  Allow your child to decide the frequency and make the initial contact.  Technology has made regular communication easier.  Text messages, free phone calls, Skype, Face Time, Snap Chat, Instagram, and Facebook all make this more possible.  Take advantage of them. This will help you adjust too.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how often you talk or hear from your child.

So, when you give your child the nudge to fly, don’t do so with tears of sadness, but tears of joy. Be confident in the person you have created.  Make your good-bye light and quick.  Help them unpack, make their bed (Mom, that’s for you), give them a big hug filled with pride and love, take a deep breath, and say, “Talk to you soon.”  Then leave; don’t linger.  I promise you it’s easier on both of you this way.

Good luck and congratulations. Your child is in a good place.  Both of you are blessed.Missing Someone

You Don’t Need to Pack Everything

Some of you may know that I have a relatively healthy and active Pinterest page.  I pin a few things every day.  In the last few days, I have noticed others pinning lists of what to bring to college.  Well, I’m going to take this in the opposite direction and give you a few suggestions of what to leave at home.


  1. Talk to your roommate. Ok, so that’s not an item you will leave at home, but it will help.  Communication with your roommate early on helps avoid duplication in large items.  Even if you haven’t met before, you should talk about what each of you is planning to bring.  Is one of you bringing a TV?  Is someone bringing or renting the mini-fridge?  What about an iron?


  1. An ironing board. An ironing board is a large and bulky item.  You don’t need it.  Some residence halls have a common board and iron on each floor.  If you feel you must, my suggestion is to get a mini board.  You can purchase one at Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  If you get one of these, unscrew the little legs (or leave it folded).  Now it is not only flat for packing, but you can wedge the board in a half open dresser drawer to bring it to a semi-decent height.  OR you can iron on your bed.  However, let’s face it, even if you have an ironing board, are you going to use it?


  1. Clothes for all seasons. You don’t need to take everything at once.  You will not have room for it in the little closets.  Pack for the current season, with a couple of transitional pieces for layering.  Plan to take home out-of-season clothes during the break and return with in-season items. Rotating clothing makes you think you have an entirely new wardrobe.


  1. Dishes and utensils. Ok, I have found that this suggestion is a matter of preference, but you don’t need an entire eight-piece set.  If you decide to bring dishes, you will only need about two sets with dish washing soap and towels.  If you don’t want to wash dishes in the tiny bathroom sinks, may I recommend paper plates and utensils?  You could share this purchase with your roommate.  The downside to this plan of action is that other members of the floor may decide to “borrow” from you at all times.  AND, it’s not the most environmentally friendly.


  1. Pots and Pans. This one I just don’t get.  What and why are you cooking?  If your hall has a kitchen, they will most likely have pots and pans to borrow.  If you think this is a necessity, look into what your building has first.  Of course, this suggestion and the dishes (above), are more for those living in the residence hall rather than an apartment.


  1. Luggage. Ok, so if you decide to use luggage to pack your clothing, you may want to send it home when your parents leave.  There will be little room to store large suitcases.  If you’re lucky, some residence halls have a storage space for out-of-state students to store luggage, but don’t plan on it.  I recommend duffel bags and soft-sided luggage that can be folded, flattened or rolled for storage.  Large trash bags and your laundry bag work for transportation too.


  1. Sports equipment, for non-athletes. If you played a sport in high school, but will not be playing in college, the likelihood is that you won’t need your equipment.  Leave it at home.  If you join an intramural team, bring it then.


  1. Non-academic books. Some people just love books.  I get it.  However, they are cumbersome and bulky.  If you can’t live without them, just bring your favorite three. Unfortunately, your complete boxed set of Harry Potter should stay home. You will have plenty of books from class, and you really won’t have time to read anything other than textbooks.  Also, don’t order your books too soon.  You may change classes. You can get books within the first week without much trouble, giving you more room in the car.


  1. Shoe organizer/drying rack/bean bag chair or other bulky items. Think about it, where are you putting this stuff?  If it’s an over the door shoe organizer, will your roommate be using it too?  Will the door even shut?  Under the bed is prime storage real estate. Is this the best usage of this space?  And that drying rack!  Although it’s not heavy, when assembled, it will be in everyone’s way.  And if the drying rack is in the way – the comfy bean bag chair will be too.


  1. High school spirit wear. I know, this sounds harsh, but the reality is – you are in college.  You will shortly find out that most students dress in college spirit wear.  Students will even wear college clothing from other schools, but NOT high school stuff.


Your college space is probably going to be smaller than your at-home space mainly because you will be sharing half of it with someone else.  Think carefully.  If you say to yourself, “I may need that.” Chances are, you won’t.

Tell me what you have learned to leave at home.

It’s All You Need to Know

You Learned it BeforeWhen you are in college there are some rules and general guidelines to follow.  Fortunately, you learned the basics while you were in elementary school.  Here are a couple of examples.

I’m sure some of you remember or are familiar with this poem:

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

by Robert Fulghum

Most of what I really need

To know about how to live

And what to do and how to be

I learned in kindergarten.

Wisdom was not at the top

Of the graduate school mountain,

But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life –

Learn some and think some

And draw and paint and sing and dance

And play and work everyday some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world,

Watch out for traffic,

Hold hands and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.

The principles of this poem hold true regardless of your stage in life; whether you are a high school senior, a freshman starting college, or a parent.  Take a good look at it again. Line for line.  Here’s what stands out to me for our college students:

Share. Put things back where you found them.  Clean up your mess.  Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Say you’re sorry.  Live a balanced life. Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you were considerate of your roommate and your shared space?  Keep your room relatively clean, put things back, and share when you can – don’t take without asking.  Consideration for others goes a long way.  Consideration for the environment can go an even longer way.  Don’t litter on your campus.  Schools across America take a beating over the course of a weekend.  Think about putting your bottle or Solo cup in the recycle bin or trash.  Don’t leave the fast food bag to stumble around a parking lot.  Throw it out.  Clean up after yourself.

I came across another good bit of advice in the form of a student pledge encouraged in a fourth-grade classroom.  Again, these items are worth consideration for all of us in academics.

    Today I will do my best, to be MY best.

    What I do today will make a difference in my life.

    My choices will affect me and those around me.

    I will listen.

    I will follow directions.

    I will be honest.

    I will respect the rights of others.

    I will learn something today because today matters and my future is built on one “now” at a     time.

Although this little pledge isn’t as well-known as Robert Fulghum’s poem, what can you take away from it?  You can think about college as a stepping stone to your future.  In this perspective, being honest, respecting the rights of others, and learning something each and every day should be the core values of your college experience.  If you are not doing these things, you may find yourself in trouble academically and socially.  Trouble in either or both areas can stop a career before it starts. I’ve seen it happen.  Just yesterday, I spoke with a student arrested twice.  What do you think his job search process will look like?  I would hate to be in his shoes simply because I didn’t think before I acted.  Outside of those arrests, he is a smart (3.33 GPA), involved, and an interesting student.  Unfortunately, his criminal record doesn’t reflect that.  An employer will find that hard to ignore.

I send this warning out all the time. Please, please, please, have a good time at college, but not so good that you neglect the end goal.  Keep your eye on the prize.  Make your memories good ones, not regretful ones.  For many of you, the new academic year will start in a few weeks.  Remember, “When you go out into the world, watch for traffic (trouble).”

These can be the best and most transformative years of your life.  Make them count!!!