Parents’ Guide to College Campus Living
While we touched on living arrangements in our financial aid and college preparation sections, we’ll really get into the nitty-gritty here. We’re talking about the move-in process, transportation, how to behave during visits, dealing with your child’s newfound independence and everything in between. Having a child head off to college is a huge change for many parents, no matter how independent their child is; if you’re experiencing it for the first time, there are a lot of questions and concerns you may have even beyond move-in day like when you can visit and if it’s ok to cry while seeing your child off (check with your child and bring tissues just in case, respectively). If you’re wondering about it, there’s an excellent chance we’ll have the advice you’re searching for. After all, you’re going to need all the help you can get during this transitional time.
Deciding where your child will live during their freshman year is a decision that should be made early but by no means hastily, as it’s a student’s first year at school that sets the tone for the rest of their college experience. Anything – from a dungeon-like dormitory to a crappy commute – can be a contributing factor and if their premier postsecondary year is less than pleasant, you may find yourself facing the entire application process again when your child wants to transfer.
Move-in day for freshmen is – to put it concisely – pure and utter chaos. Getting onto the actual campus will take much longer than your GPS predicts thanks to long lines of cars and moving vans. Once you’ve made it to the dorm doorstep or apartment lobby, the fun continues with considerable elevator wait times or crowded hallways to navigate as you bring everything from your vehicle to your child’s room. It may not sound like your ideal way to spend an afternoon but the end result – your child comfortably settled into their home for the next nine months – is so worth the battle for parking spaces and 17 trips up and down six narrow flights of stairs.
Some parents start missing their child as soon as they leave the parking lot. No, you’re not a weirdo if you get a little misty: For many parents, this is the first time they will be away from their child for an extended period of time in almost two decades and it’s completely natural to want to see them again as soon as possible. The good news is that many colleges anticipate this and plan a weekend early in the fall semester – aptly dubbed Parents’ Weekend – where families can reunite on campus and take part in a wealth of activities. If you can’t make it for the festivities or simply cannot wait an entire month to see your child, don’t show up unannounced. Discuss with your child if and when their class schedule would permit a short visit and be mindful not to overstay your welcome.