Beginning this week, many parents will be dropping off freshman at their respective colleges. Cars will be packed to the hilt with computers, refrigerators, and for some, even flat screen TVs.
When I went off to college I had almost nothing of value. Personal computers didn’t exist, the dorms came equipped with a mini fridge and no one brought a television. And, my parents did not accompany me. My older sister attended the same university and we got a ride with her friend. That was not uncommon back then. A parent of one of my students told me that her parents drove her to the airport and she flew off to her college by herself.
Things are quite different today. Students bring a lot more with them and most are dropped off by their parents. I think it is perfectly reasonable to accompany your child to college and help him or her get settled in as I did and continue to do with my children.
For some parents, this rite of passage is fraught with emotion and colleges have come to recognize this. Many colleges have activities and workshops for parents to help ease this transition. In this article in the Washington Post, author, Jenna Johnson describes an orientation session she attended, “In June, I sat through two days of parent orientation at George Washington University, which allows moms and dads to explore campus, meet administrators and make friends of their own. There were at least two sessions that left many parents (mostly the moms) in tears”. She described the difficulty some parents face when it is time to leave.
Increasingly, colleges have organized activities with an eye towards getting the parents to leave in a timely manner. In this article from the New York Times, the headline pretty much says it all, “Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home”. It goes on to describe what some colleges do to shoo the parents out at the appointed time. Morehouse College in Atlanta has a “‘parting ceremony”. The article goes on to describe Grinnell College’s way of letting the parents know when it is time to go, “Move-in day for the 415 freshmen was Saturday. After computer printers and duffle bags had been carried to dorm rooms, everyone gathered in the gymnasium, students on one side of the bleachers, parents on the other.”
If you are in the mood for a good cry, read this article from the NY Times about dropping your child off. If the article doesn’t get to you, the comments will.
Leaving your child at college for the first time is an emotional moment but one for which you have been preparing them for the last 18 years. Don’t worry, by sophomore year you will be a pro.