College campuses across the nation are starting to buzz. Welcome weekend is just around the corner! This is an exciting but also nerve-racking experience for most.
As a former Admissions Counselor, I would love to offer up some tidbits and fun facts on how to make the college move-in experience as smooth as possible. It’s an amazing step in life, and I want you to enjoy it with your kiddo.
College Welcome Weekend Tips
1. Get ALL the registration stuff done first
I encourage you to get to campus right when all the offices and dorms open for the day. I know we all want to be fashionably late and pull up to campus looking suave, but I guarantee this is one of the truest cases of the early bird gets the worm. Get there first to chat with your student’s academic adviser if you need to rearrange classes, meet with financial aid if you have questions about the college semester financial plan, set up your student’s meal package, etc. This is all top priority.
Your teen will most likely want to focus on setting up their dorm room, walking through their class schedule, and mingling with their roommate and floormates. And these are important steps. However…you want to beat the crowds and be first in line for as much as possible. If you get to campus early and get these business details done first, I promise it will make the rest of your day a heck of a lot easier and more enjoyable.
*Pro-tip: If your student is incredibly concerned about claiming a bed, closest, or desk, go to their dorm room first and throw a suitcase on the bed, a jacket in the closest, and a book on the desk.
Boom. Space claimed.
2. Make a game plan for the move-in process
Are they on the first floor? If not, does the residence hall have an elevator?
Be wary of the type of furniture you plan on bringing in if your student isn’t on the first floor. Carrying a couch up three flights of stairs isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Is it possible? Absolutely. Been there; done that. Is it fun? NOPE.
Do you have the dimensions of the room?
I promise your children WILL be embarrassed if you visit campus in the spring and measure the walls of each dorm’s rooms. But I also promise they will LOVE you for it come welcome weekend when everything fits perfectly and their room is looking dynamite. If you were not able to tote the measuring tape around on a previous visit email or call your admissions counselor. They either have the dimensions on hand or will be more than willing to run and grab them for you.
Do you know what appliances are provided?
If the residence hall provides a free washer and dryer, do not worry about the quarters. If there is a coffee maker in the hall lounge, don’t take up space in the room with a Keurig. Trust me, everyone ends up buying too much and become overwhelmed with random desk trays, drawer organizers, and alarm clocks that they never use.
Please, do not buy an alarm clock.
Every packing list out there still mentions buying one. I guarantee it will never be used. Instead, buy a 6-10ft phone charger. Not only will their phone be their morning wake-up call, but that phone charger will become their best friend when they can’t decide if they want to study on their top bunk or on the Ikea futon.
3. Family time is important – leave campus for dinner
All the business details have been handled, their room is 90% complete and everyone is exhausted. Now is not the time to throw yourselves into the busy mess of the dining hall to mingle with other nervous & sad families. You will have other opportunities to go to campus and enjoy the college food experience with your kiddo. Tonight, find a local eatery, go sit down with your student and enjoy a peaceful meal with one another.
Talk about everything they have to be excited about…whether they have voiced it or not, they are nervous. They may not want to admit it – but saying goodbye is intimidating. Whether their campus is 3 hours away from home or 15 minutes, it’s pulling at their heartstrings.
Amp them up; make them giddy if you can. Getting homesick is real, and they need to know that you are excited for them in order to ease their transition. You are allowed to be sad, you can hug them hard and tears are definitely acceptable (and possibly unavoidable), but remember to smile for them and remind them how amazing this experience is about to be for them.
4. Do not linger
Finally, the hardest part…leave.
It’s tempting to want to spend the night, to stay through the weekend, to hang on. You have to let your child get acclimated on their own. They need to dive in and start relying on their floormates, their RA, their roommate for counsel, help, and friendship. You are first and foremost their family, but for the time being, the campus and college community they have chosen to be a part of needs to become their secondary family. Let that process begin to happen.
You have equipped your child for this moment. Know that they love you and trust that God’s got this. He’ll be by their side the entire time.