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The Parent’s Guide to Sending Their Kid to College

The months leading up to your kid’s first day at college is a busy time. Every parent knows getting the acceptance letter isn’t the end to the journey – there are many ways you can keep preparing your young adult for success as they begin their college journey.

We’ve prepared some tips below to help you cover the essentials every parent needs to keep in mind before they send their kid off to college.

10 Tips for A Smooth Launch

1) Prepare a Packing List

Packing for college can be daunting, to say the least. Help your child lay out a solid packing list to ease the process. By planning ahead, you can ensure they have everything they need while also avoiding last-minute panic or unnecessary clutter.

Make some time to sit down together and lay out a checklist of essential items they’ll need, such as:

  • Bedding, toiletries, and kitchen tools.
  • Cleaning and basic school supplies.
  • Versatile clothing that’ll get them through anything and everything.

There are a few things that might not be as obvious as a must-pack for college but would make a world of difference to save your freshman time and energy they need to focus on classes and college life. 

2) Pack Them Some Comforts of Home

College life can be overwhelming, especially at first. Before they head off to campus, pack home comforts for your college-bound kids like your signature frozen lasagna, a box of their favorite pastries from the local cafe, some board games, and materials for their hobbies. 

You can also plan ahead and schedule a package of creature comforts every month. Fill the packages with their favorite snacks, thoughtful, personal items, or even handwritten notes. When your kid receives a care package every now and then, it’s a reminder that you’re thinking of them, even from a distance. 

Come finals week or winter, send out an emergency care package. Use the list below as a starting point: 

  • granola bars
  • trail mix
  • saltines
  • canned food
  • dried seaweed
  • rice crackers
  • easy microwavables 
  • water bottles
  • OTC medicine for emergencies
  • hot water bottle or ice pack

Sending care packages throughout the year is a great way to help your child feel loved and supported. These surprises from home will bring a smile to their face and keep them feeling connected.

3) Help Them Lock Down their Administrative Logistics

Before your child heads out, discuss life management and finances openly. Help them understand budgeting, managing expenses, and the importance of saving money. 

  • Teaching them financial literacy early will set them up for success and empower them to make smart financial decisions even if you aren’t there to guide them.
  • Additionally, consider equipping them with a virtual mailbox. This inexpensive and convenient service allows your child to:
  • Have a dependable and permanent mailing address that’ll stay the same even as they move a number of times in the years to come.
  • Receive mail and packages at university, at a physical address, which can be especially useful if their college doesn’t have reliable mail delivery.
  • It ensures that your care packages and other correspondence reach them without any delay, theft, or hassle.

4) Bond With Fellow Empty Nesters

Sending your child off to college is a major milestone in both your kid’s life and yours. While they embark on a journey of growth and self-discovery, it’s essential that you have a support system in place as well.

  • Consider finding an outside support group specifically tailored to parents dealing with their children moving to college.
  • These groups can be invaluable sources of guidance, empathy, and encouragement during this transitional period.
  • They allow you to share your concerns, challenges and triumphs with others who understand the unique emotions associated with this phase of parenting.

5) Set Up a Schedule for Staying in Touch

Staying connected with your kid while they’re at college is crucial (for them and for you). Before they head out, consider sitting down together and creating a schedule for staying in touch.

  • Whether it’s weekly video calls, regular phone check-ins, or even snail mail letters, having a plan ensures you both feel connected and supported. (Be careful, though…it’s also important to give them space to explore their newfound independence).

6) Attend College Orientation if Possible

Orientation isn’t just for students. It’s also an opportunity for parents to familiarize themselves with the particular college and the experiences that go with it. Many colleges offer sessions designed specifically for parents, so keep an eye out for those. Orientations will:

  • Help you understand campus resources, support services, and important policies.
  • Provide you an opportunity to meet and connect with other parents who’re going through the same experience.

7) Add Move-In Day to Your Family Calendar

Keep schedules aligned by adding the big day to your calendar. Do not forget to add and work on the to-buy list of college essentials your child will need ahead of time as well. 

On move-in day, assist your child with packing, loading the car, and unpacking once they arrive on campus. This’ll help them feel settled and ready to start their college adventure.

8) Make Note of Campus Safety and Medical Resources

Let’s face it. As parents, safety is always a concern. Take the time to familiarize yourself with campus safety protocols and emergency procedures. 

  • Identify the locations of campus security offices, medical facilities, and counseling services. This’ll give you peace of mind and ensure your child knows where to turn, just in case.

9) Offer Perpetual Guidance and Encouragement

As parents, your role doesn’t end when your child leaves for college. Throughout their college journey, make sure to offer continuous encouragement and support. 

  • Remind them that they can achieve their goals and that you believe in them.
  • Try to be a non-judgmental sounding board for their concerns, challenges, and triumphs.

Your support and advice will help them confidently navigate the ups and downs of college life.

10) It’s Not Easy, But Try to Give Them Space

While staying connected is important, giving your child space to grow and explore their independence is equally necessary.

  • College is a time for your kids to develop their own identity, make their own decisions, and learn from their experiences. 
  • Allow them the freedom to figure things out independently while still being there as a safety net when needed.
  • Trust in the foundation you’ve built together, and let them spread their wings.

You Did It…Together

Sending your child off to college is a testament to your love and dedication as a parent and your child’s commitment to accomplishing even bigger dreams. Embrace this exciting time, knowing that you’ve prepared them well for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Thank you for the hard work you’ve done. And continue to do.

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