For parents and their child, there are probably mixed emotions as the 18-year-old prepares to go off to college for the first time, especially if they chose to go out of state. Anxiety, pride, joy, excitement, sadness and fear are all common emotions.
Here are 10 tips to help your child navigate through the process and prepare for a smooth move to campus this fall:
1. Create a Plan and Agenda.
“Start backwards from the first day of school and fill in the dorm move-in date and plan your travel accordingly,” suggested Melanie Walker from NEAT Method Vegas. “If you plan to travel with your child, create time where you and your child can explore their new city, find some great restaurants and a hotel you both can be comfortable in when you visit.”
2. Make a List of Items to Bring.
There are many college checklists to help get you started.
“Next determine what you will be bringing with you and what you will shop for there,” Walker said. “You will probably need way less than you think. Space is small and you can find that a roommate has brought more than their fair share of stuff. Don’t overpack or go crazy with stuff.”
3. Help Them Pack Efficiently.
Since your child is going out of state, he/she pretty much has one shot to move what they need for the semester. They should pack what they know they absolutely must have and that can fit in their suitcase and additional bags (if flying to their destination). Also, check to see how much you’ll pay for extra bags.
For example, limit the number of shoes, boots and jackets because they’re bulkier. (One pair of boots and one heavy jacket should suffice if they’re moving to a cold climate). If you’re driving, you have more space and flexibility. If you have more than can fit in your vehicle, reserve a trailer. But again, remember dorms don’t have much space!
4. Buy Boxes and Packing Supplies.
Shop for deals on boxes and packing supplies. You probably will only need a few small boxes and a roll of sturdy tape. It is also easy to find free moving boxes.
5. Embrace Online Ordering.
“Amazon Prime and Bed Bath Beyond online are your best friends,” Walker said. “Don’t stress too much about taking everything with you, a few clicks and you can have it delivered. It will probably save you money in packing and paying luggage fees on items you can easily order. Besides, where are you going to store all of that luggage?”
6. Locate Your Go-to Stores.
“Anyplace there’s a college town, there’s always a Wal-Mart or Target or someplace to purchase items like linens, towels and school supplies, especially if you’re flying and don’t want to purchase those items and fly with them,” said Pam Metcalf, owner of San Antonio, TX-based In Your Space Organizing. “Personal care items like deodorant and soap can also be purchased once you get there.”
The Container Store and even discount dollar stores are also helpful, Walker said.
“From hangers, to a tiered shoe rack, drawer/bathroom organizers and command hooks, they will help you get your child organized quickly,” she said. “You can even find a dresser that can double as storage and a nightstand.”
7. Don’t Stress About Stuff.
“Making your child feel at peace and comfortable should be your primary concern,” Walker said. “Spend quality time with them and be a great listener. They will tell you what they need or don’t need.”
8. Don’t Forget the Essentials.
Walker said often forgotten items include:
- cleaning products
- a full-length mirror, hangers
- laundry basket
- paper bowls/plates
- zip-lock bags.
Don’t forget a coffee maker or Keurig and small refrigerator to make your child feel at home, Metcalf said.
“You want to make them feel comfortable, but not so comfortable that they forget to study!” she added.