8 things I wish I knew when my kids left for college

8 things I wish I knew when my kids left for college

It takes at least 3 months to adjust to anything, good or bad.

We live in an age of immediate gratification and high anxiety.  But remember, even when something is AMAZING, it takes human beings a minimum of 3 months to feel settled and adjusted.  Neither you nor your child should judge things too quickly – whether it’s roommates, classes, dorm rooms or teachers.  And don’t judge yourself if you are having trouble adjusting to your child being away!  Experts recommend that students who react quickly and think they made a mistake give it at least one full year.

Dorm Shopping

Take a breath:  if you forget something, you can send it to your student once the semester begins.  Unless it’s urgent, wait a bit because the mail centers at colleges are INUNDATED the first two weeks of school.  Take advantage of services where they hold all your items at the location nearest the school.  Sadly, Bed Bath and Beyond is no more, but other retailers may offer the service.

Move In Moods

I think I had some Hallmark movie moment in my head when I envisioned taking my kids to college…meaningful glances, special hugs, words of wisdom.  Oh, and gratitude.  I definitely expected gratitude as we set up their rooms and “launched” them into their future.  Well, that didn’t happen but I get it now.  All of my kids were very keyed-up, a bit short tempered, and super self-conscious during move-in.  My eagerness to have them “all set up” was seen as “fussing” and made them more anxious. 

The Big Goodbye

Talk to your child about drop-off and what they would like to see happen.  If they seem distracted because they are happy, that’s a good thing!  Give them a hug and be thankful we now have cell phones instead of “long distance” calls that broke the bank. Trust me, they will be in touch! 

Helloooo? Is anyone out there?

Most will text rather than call and as they are getting adjusted, they may not respond quickly.  You might want to create some guidelines for communication.  One mom I know said she needed a response from her son within 3 hours and that she would only call if it was important, so he should pick up or call back right away. 

Almighty Email

Make sure they have their voice mail set up and not “full” or “unavailable,” and stress the importance of checking their school email DAILY.  As a professor, I can only legally contact my students using their school email, not their gmail or other account. 

But I won’t be seeing you every day…

At this age, it really is still all about your kid’s friends and that can be hard when you know the clock is ticking until they leave.  Try to remember how you felt at that age and short of them being irresponsible or rude, let your kids enjoy this summer.  At home friendships can change after the first year of college, so these are precious days for them.

Be in the moment

Enjoy your family as much as you can without focusing on the future too much.  We only have the moment we are in, and people who can stay in that moment are much happier than ones who are thinking ahead. 



  • Paula said:

    Thank you! I’m already beginning to feel slighted and unappreciated by my child. Maybe I’ll be less grumpy now that I’ve read this.

    July 19, 2022

  • Jill said:

    Thank you for these words of wisdom- I think this is going to be harder on me then my daughter- she is my one and only and will be a college Freshman this year, and well so many emotions right now for us both. The “move in moods” – I too am thinking a hallmark moment, but I need to be realistic as moving several states away and a long trip down to location. Thank you for your candidness this is such a great blog!

    July 19, 2022

  • Ana Metcalf said:

    Thank you I am sending my only one to colleague in August, your tips are very helpful.

    June 29, 2022

  • Gloria Ruiz said:

    Thank you for this! Very helpful and much appreciated…

    June 29, 2022

  • ashpreet said:

    wow! this is so wonderful and soothing!! sending my only son to college this year. and i have a mixed bag of emotions. but really thank you for this. loved it ✨

    June 29, 2022

  • Shelly Headen said:

    Well written! Thank you for sharing!!

    June 29, 2022

  • Erin said:

    Ahh, the “Move in moods”. Have you met my family? I’ll be taking my dropping my baby many states away. Thanks for the tips.

    June 29, 2022

  • Meticulously elaborated 👌🙏 said:

    Thank you for sharing…

    June 29, 2022

  • Stephanie said:

    Great advice especially the hallmark moment! I’m sending my third son off in August yet to have shared that moment but I have been basically shoved out the door🤣 Maybe next fall my daughter will give me that glance and gratitude❤️

    June 29, 2022

  • Abby said:

    Wise and helpful words as I send my first off this August. Many Thanks 😊

    June 24, 2022

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