After a last-minute trip to Bed Bath & Beyond for the crucial shower caddy and extra-long bed sheets, your college freshman should be good to go. But, let’s face it — are you, the parent, equally prepared?
This bittersweet battle starts well before arriving home to your child’s empty bedroom. It begins, in fact, on move-in day — the pinnacle of your parenting career up until this point.
Here’s what experts have to say about making the right moves for move-in:
1. Know less is more, especially at first
“Initially, bring 100 percent of what’s needed, but not 100 percent of what’s wanted,” says Marc Wais, NYU’s vice president for student affairs. “Be Spartan and minimalist. Save the rest for shipping afterwards. It’ll prevent heart attacks in 100 degree weather.” This is especially important for city navigation, where “urban campuses are normally vertical, rather than sprawled for easy movement,” he notes.
2. Keep an eye on the clock
“There will be some point in time when the university wants you to say goodbye,” Wais cautions. “Don’t hang around — it often embarrasses students and prevents them from forging their own beginnings.” Colleges plan orientations carefully, “so be thoughtful by following the schedule as programmed.”
3. Expect peace, not pandemonium
Marie Carr, author of “The Prepared Parent’s Operational Manual: Sending Your Child to College,” is a veteran move-in mom and reminds us that no one is as prepared as the college’s staff. “You’ll meet panels of experienced parents as well as teams of resident advisers, students and staff more than willing to guide you,” she says. “There may even be city police directing traffic, and there will certainly be adequate free parking. Universities go out of their way for you.”
4. Space notes
“Students should communicate clearly with roommates to find out who’s bringing what,” says Wais. “You don’t want two of anything if you only need one, especially in a small room.” Meanwhile, save space by keeping it simple in the gadget department. “Computers can be DVD players. Cell phones can act as alarm clocks,” notes Carr. “Simplify for the situation.”
5. Smile for the photograph
After a day of waiting for elevators and wrestling with packing tape, you probably won’t be feeling photogenic. But before you leave, remember to snap pictures of that first day — the cap-and-gown portrait will be here before you know it.