There comes a point in every teen’s life where they are faced with a decision. No longer are your high school administrators and teachers guiding your path to success. No longer will your mother and father be the care takers responsible for your well being, your food, your shelter, and your health. They have led the horse to the water, and now it’s up to you whether or not to drink.
Leaving the nest is a milestone everyone must reach at some point. It is a coming of age. And while you may not make the jump into independence directly after high school (you may wait a few years and go to community college, or even skip the process and enter the work force owning your own home or apartment) but no matter what pace you progress at, the time will come for you to gain your independence.
Moving out on your own means more than physical stress but mental stress as well. Moving is a stressor in itself and adjusting takes time, especially an adjustment this big. Moving out is a complete lifestyle change. Home sickness is a malady we all face at one point or another during the process, but the freedom and the self discovery that comes with self-reliance is well worth the hardships, and in the end, it will only help you grow as a person. Home sickness will always pass, and soon, you’ll have a new home, a second home, and a family that reaches far beyond blood relatives.
It’s hard to say who is effected most by the move to college, whether it is the parents, or the students. Parents, you’ve watched your child grow into a blossoming adult and now their future is right around the corner, coming fast with full force. It’s only natural to worry, to feel nostalgic, and perhaps even feeling abandoned. A household full of teens, or even just one teen, can be a household of chaos and drama, but you love it all the same. The pitter patter of foot steps have transitioned to mood swings and late nights filling out college applications.
At this stage in your teen’s life, they are craving independence but aren’t always quite mature enough to know their limits. They may abuse the privileges you provide for them, but this is natural and no cause for worry. Once they are off on campus, you have to let go of the disciplinary restrictions and trust that you did your job well enough as a parent to set them up to make the right choices. You must trust that you have raised them to be capable adults, equipped with the knowledge they need to succeed in the world and accomplish their dreams.
Hopefully this means they know how to do their own laundry, separating lights from darks, practicing healthy eating habits, and conscious of their school work and career goals. All you can do is encourage them to stay focus and keep a positive attitude at all times, making your college bound child feel they have a safe place to go to and an open relationship with you that allows them to come to you for anything.
In most cases, distance makes the heart grow fonder. You will miss your now grown child and they will miss you. Don’t be alarmed if for the first few weeks it seems you college bound kid seems dismissive or has forgotten you. They have not. They are most likely over whelmed with the transition and doing their best to stay afloat. College students spend the first few weeks assimilating to their surroundings, getting accustomed to schedules and meal plans, and finding their place amongst a sea of new peers that will soon become life long friends. This is a big step in their life and and giving them the space that they need is all you can do at this point.
Within a few weeks, maybe even months, they will be accustomed to their surroundings and upon coming home, they will have a renewed sense of thankfulness for and gratitude for their home and family. When making the move, from cul-de-sac to campus, prepare them with the essentials and let them explore the school grounds without hovering over them, that is, don’t be a helicopter parent. That is what Parent’s Weekend is for, you’ll be able to explore and get a taste of the campus lifestyle your child has adopted. Whether you are driving or flying out to the new campus, make the trip fun; it will be one to remember and it may be the last time you see each other for a few months. For some, this will be the longest they have been away rom their children.
Be sure to give them their space during orientation, let them get a feel for their surroundings. Leave a little piece of home with them to keep in their dorm room or new apartment, that way they will always feel close to home and to their family. Pictures and handmade crafts are great way to express your love. Check in with your child as often as you feel the need, and be sure they are doing well. Some teens find the transition to be too much to handle and it is important that your college teen’s mental health is in order. In no time at all, you will notice the bond between you and your child grow into a more appreciative, understanding relationship as they grow into adulthood.
The experience of moving to college is a much different one for teens. The idea of leaving behind the norm, the structure of high school and perhaps even the life long friends they have created unbreakable bonds with, seems a little intimidating. Nevertheless, it’s exciting. You are finally out on your own, and you’ll get your first taste of the independence you’ve been craving. But be warned, many become intoxicate with the freedom and tend to abuse it. Campus rules are not lose guidelines and a few streaks of bad behavior could cost your not only your scholarships, but also your enrollment in the school. Keep yourself grounded, involve yourself in extra curricular activities like sports, clubs, and other on campus organizations. If you’re feeling lonely, home is just a phone call way.
Don’t forget, students, that this change is an opportunity to rebrand yourself. Deck out your dorm room like it’s the bedroom you’ve always wanted. Don’t forget to bring lots of storage space, air tight vacuum sealed bag are wonderful for storing winter and summer clothes in between seasons. Portable plastic drawers are perfect to sit near your desk for easy access to all of your academic supplies.
And yes, like high school, you will need a stock hold of school supplies. Highlighters, paper, binders, writing utensils, and of course, the laptop. A laptop is the most efficient way to keep yourself organized in college. It is nearly essential, even if your campus has a library computer lab. If you have a lot of your own possessions you plan on bringing form home to put in your new dorm room, rent a truck and have your parents help you with the move. If you’re planning to start fresh, use the opportunity to turn the dorm into the bedroom you have always dreamed of.
The move to the university is overwhelming and you may forget a few things on your initial move in day. But never fear, most campuses include a list of necessities for you to purchase and bring on move in day. Be sure to arrive as early as possible. Thousands of students will be moving in at the exact same time most likely and you will want to bet the crowd. If you have packed a lot of materials such as bedding, clothing, and even furniture from your old room, this could mean making a plethora of trips back and forth to the car. Rather than straining yourself and draining all of your energy, invest in a cart or some sort of wagon to reduce the amount of trips you have to make from the car to the dorm room.
Pack clothing, pillows, and bedding in air tight vacuum sealed bags to reduce space; if you are driving long distance to campus, you’ll want your car to be as roomy as possible. Store air tight bags under beds or in closets. You’ll want to buy a broom and a few general cleaning supplies upon moving in, as mom and dad won’t be there to clean messes and colleges don’t have maid services. Always lock your dorm room when you are out to avoid any chance of possible theft. A shower caddy is also a wise purchase as well as shower shoes or flip flops to be worn in the public shower areas dorm lifestyles are known for. Once the move is complete, it will seem like it went by too fast and before you know it, you are saying your goodbyes. The beginning of your life is just about to start and any path is open to you.
Here are some powerful tips for you to make the whole process simpler.
- Whatever time the school tells you to arrive, be slightly early. Don't go crazy and be super early just be comfortably early. It's very similar to going to a boarding school. Spending the early time to communicate with each other in the car before the moving commences, so that everyone knows whats happening and what is expected of them.
- Be flexible,things may change on move in day. The more you prepare for the moving the easier it will be. Be patient with yourself and be patient with others around you. It will all work itself out. Sometimes everything does not begin and end over one day, patience is a virtue that is important to attempt to instill in yourself as your higher education career begins.
- Understand if there is a long walk.Some buildings that you will move into may have elevators that you may need to use or a long walkway to the actual dorm that is designated to you. Moving companies will charge you for a long carry if they have to walk a long way. This is to be known ahead of time.
- Parentsease up and let your student lead the way. If something comes up allow them to get assistance from the staff in the building. Give them support to take charge.
- Dorm Damage sometimes occurs when you move in or before the move. Make sure that you fill out the damage report form with the building so that they know that it was prior to you moving in, that way you will not be charged in the future.
- Be Strongand don’t count on taking your student out for dinner. They may be so caught up with everything that they may just simply say goodbye. Don't feel hurt. If they are going to college you have done something right as a parent.