It’s one of the most difficult things you may have to do – sending your child off to college.
You’ve been preparing for this day for a very long time. ACTs, SATs, essay questions, scholarship applications, FAFSA. Talking with your child about where they will go to college, what do they want to major in? Do they want a large school or small school? Would they like to go somewhere with a football team or intramural sports? Do they want a co-ed campus? How about in-state or out of state? How far do they want to be from home – or perhaps a better way to ask is how far from home can mom handle…..
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My son is beginning his 3rd and final year in college (yep, he’s graduating a whole year early!) and I have to say that it’s still hard. I miss him so much, Every. Single. Day, but I wouldn’t want him back because he’s doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing.
At a time when emotions are running high and you’re trying to think of everything you need to do, I thought I’d put together a list of things to help you prepare for that big day.
12 Tips for Sending Your Child Off to College
- Before they head off to college, sit down with them and let them know your expectations for when they come back home. They are going to be out on their own now, so things change for them and for you. They begin living a different life on their own and you have to adjust to this new life of yours. When they come back, they will have been living as they so choose. Coming and going as they want, staying up very late and sleeping into the early hours of the afternoon. We sat down with our son before he left and told him what we expected when he came back. For us, the rules are that when he is living with us, he needs to let us know by 10:00 p.m. whether he is coming home or not. If he is, his curfew is 1:00 on the weekends, 10:00 on weekdays. When he came home from college, he already knew the rules and we had no trouble adjusting.
- Before they leave, discuss what you will or will not be helping with financially. By sitting down and discussing this before they leave, they know what the budget is and learn how to handle their money. If they call home needing more, tell them to get a J.O.B. Harsh, right? Not really. If you think about it, they really do have plenty of time to pick up a job for a little extra money. That whole tough love is…..well, it’s tough. But they need to learn somehow and if you’re constantly sending them money, it’s not teaching them how to properly budget.
- It’s going to cost more than you think. Every time I turned around, there was more “stuff” to purchase. On moving day, be prepared to hit the local Walmart, Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond. If they’re moving into an apartment, budget more for utilities than what you were told. (ask me how I know this!)
- Don’t forget the school supplies. I know, I know, that seems so obvious, but honestly, I was so busy thinking about everything that was needed for his dorm room that I almost forgot to buy school supplies.
- Consider renting textbooks. This can be a HUGE saving for you! Just make sure your child takes or sends them back at the end of the semester or you’ll be charged for them.
- Don’t spend money on expensive bedding. They’ll use it for one year and probably won’t take good care of it anyway. When my son moved into an apartment his second year, I actually made his bedding for him. Something that I wanted to do because I love to sew. Oh, I bought the good fabric, spent hours making a duvet cover and large pillow. Yep, my son was going to have nice bedding to remind him that mama loves him. By the end of the year, his roommate had used that beautiful duvet cover to put over the dog crate! Seriously?! Sigh…… I realize there are a few out there who will take care of their things, but after speaking to a lot of mom’s, I’m convinced that is the minority (and probably especially so with boys).
- Take a cart to help move them into their room. Most schools have students there to help the freshman move in, however, you’ll still have some things to carry and it’s so much easier with a cart.
- Stock up on command strips and adhesive putty. I’m a big fan of command strips, however, my son’s dorm room had cinderblock walls and the strips just wouldn’t stick well in most areas, so we had to go out and pick up the putty.
- The kids share their clothes…..yes, even the boys! I can’t tell you how many times my son has come home with his laundry and I don’t recognize several items in there. I also don’t see quite a few items that I know he went to school with. My son nonchalantly tells me that “so and so” has their shirt and the one I’m folding belongs to someone else. If there’s something that’s special and you don’t want them to lose it, don’t send it to school with them.
- Put together a first aid kit/get well box that they’ll need when they aren’t feeling well. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you every time my son goes back to school, he gets sick. (I have no doubt that staying up late and not eating as well as he should play a big role in that.) You can put together your own box or purchase one on Amazon here.
- Before you leave them at school, walk over to the correct office and have them sign paperwork stating that you are allowed to see their grades. Can you believe you have to do this? Doesn’t seem right, I know – especially if you’re the one paying their tuition! However, it’s a rule and you don’t want to be stuck later in the semester when you want to see their grades and can’t access them without your child’s permission.
- It’s never too soon to begin picking up fun things for a care package. I like to send one every 3-4 weeks…. restaurant gift cards, Walmart or Target gift cards, grocery store gift card, I-tunes cards, Netflix cards, homemade cookies, ramen noodles, mac & cheese, snacks….It’s a lot easier on the budget if you purchase things a little at a time. You can also find some great gift packages on Etsy that are fun to send as well.
It’s going to hurt when it’s time to say goodbye
In fact, every time you have to say goodbye, it’s going to hurt. You’d think it would get easier, but unfortunately my friend, it just doesn’t. For the first time ever, I completely understand what it means to be heartbroken. Seriously, my heart actually aches. He’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing and I couldn’t be more proud of him, but man, oh man, it hurts! …and it’s o.k. that it does! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it shouldn’t.
It’s not going to be easy sending your child off to college but as Nido Qubein, President of High Point University in North Carolina says,
You’ve been preparing these young people their entire lives to live without you, and now you’re afraid to live without them.
It’s time to let them fly now, and I hope this list helps make that transition a little easier for you. While you’re here, be sure read My Broken Heart – From One College Mom to Another.
Do you have a great tip for sending your child off to college? Share it with us in the comments below – we mamas have to help each other through this!
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Until next time, my friend…….
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