Organizing Your Teen's Move to College
Sending your teen off to college in the fall? There are a lot of
things to think about before your son or daughter leaves home. A
little planning and organization can go a long way to reducing
the stresses the next couple of months may bring.
First of all, congratulations on your teen's college acceptance!
It's a big step just choosing a college, applying, and then
waiting expectantly for that college acceptance letter.
One of the things you will need to decide is whether or not your
teen will be taking a vehicle to college. Some families decide it
is just not cost effective to send their teen off to college with
a car. It helps if your
teen is going to a college where a friend or two will also be
attending. If carpooling home is an option, then your teen may very well not need their own car. Some colleges also charge an
additional fee for student parking. Our daughter is attending a
small private college and no one from our area is attending her
school, so that has made carpooling not an option. We opted to
let her take a car with her so we wouldn't be constantly
driving back and forth. Her college does not charge additional
parking fees, so that has worked out great for us.
The summer before your teen leaves for college is a great time to
go through her wardrobe and decide what she will be taking with
her to college. Remember she (or you) will likely be hauling
this stuff back and forth in the car, so be realistic in what she
will be taking with her. This is also a great time to donate
unwanted clothing to charity or consign it for some extra cash.
You also need to keep in mind differences in climate. Our
daughter moved from a hot, dry area to an area that is cool and
rainy. She definitely needed to take a raincoat and umbrella.
Sometime during the summer your teen may be finding out who her
roommate is going to be next year. This is a great time to start
a relationship with the roommate-to-be. My daughter spoke to her
roommate several times on the phone and emailed her back and
forth before they actually met in person. When they finally did
meet they felt like they already knew each other, so that made
the "moving in" transition a whole lot easier for my daughter.
This is also a great time to decide who will bring what. You
won't need two refrigerators, telephones, etc. My daughter even
shared her stereo with her roommate.
You will be receiving a suggested list of items to send to
college with your teen. Again, don't take more than will fit in
your car...you don't want to have to rent a U-Haul! If you
and/or your teen have a chance to visit the college before your
teen moves in to the dorm, make sure to take a look at one of the
dorm rooms. If you can do it during a preview day, you will be
able to see one that someone is currently living in and see how
it is arranged and how much room your teen will have.
If you have any questions you want to ask the college, about
anything at all, don't be afraid to call or email them. I am
fortunate that my daughter's college is so small that it is very
easy to get a hold of them and speak to someone. In our
on-campus parent briefing, they (the financial aid office
especially) reminded us that they are there to help us and want
to be our friends, they are not the enemy! They want our
children to succeed and want to make sure our questions are
answered. Make friends with them...it will help you get a lot
more sleep at night.
Keep all important dates you need to remember written on a
calendar or day planner. With financial aid due dates, housing
registration and deposits, visitation days, class registration,
move-in day, orientations, etc., you don't want to forget
anything. Write everything down.
Take advantage of visitation days, if possible. This helps your
teen become accustomed to the campus and makes her transition to
her new surroundings much easier. My daughter was even able to
stay overnight in the dorms with a student. You can often arrange a visit even if you are not attending a scheduled visitation day.
Become familiar with hotels/motels in the area of the college if
you will be visiting very often. Prices definitely vary, so call
around or check online for the best prices. Make sure to make
your reservations ahead of time...other college parents will be
making reservations too.
One last thing to think about is sending spending money to
college with your teen. Most parents agree that it is fine to
send your teen some spending money, but remember they will spend
as much as you send them (and then want more)! For Christmas and
birthdays, family members give our daughter gift cards for
clothing and Starbucks gift cards and she loves it. She doesn't
need anything else anyway, where is she going to put it!?
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