What It Was Like To Take a Child to College

Every college has its own drop-off system. But I can tell you how it went when we dropped off Rob at his college.

Beforehand, looking at all the papers, the process seemed overwhelming. Here’s your group! Here’s your check-in time! Don’t forget this! Don’t forget that! Don’t bring this or that! This lot is okay to park in and this one isn’t! Put this sign in your windshield! Label all your things! And you may remember the part where the college told us only a couple of weeks ago that there were assigned check-in times and that it was “CRUCIAL” to follow them—but when I emailed, they said no, those were just suggested times, an answer that suffused me with both intense relief and intense annoyance. Rule-makers, do not TOY WITH your rule-followers.

One way I calmed down was by figuring that it is to the school’s advantage to make things go smoothly, even more than it is to mine; and that the school has way, WAY more experience with this than I do. I printed out the labels and maps, but I trusted to some extent that even if we showed up at the gates without any information at all and without following any of the guidelines for car-marking and luggage-labeling, there would be people there who would guide us through it. This turned out to be 100% correct.

There were signs at the entrance. There were signs at every fork. There were people at every stage to meet us. There were people at every stage to lean down to our car window and make sure we’d been though the necessary previous stage. There were people wearing college t-shirts EVERYWHERE, and they were cheerful about answering anything. I was worried that someone would question us about arriving early and I would have to explain, but no one noticed or cared or viewed any information that would have told them that that was what was happening; it was a complete non-issue.

The whole thing from arrival to departure took about 2.5 hours. A large part of this was waiting in the first line: arriving cars were directed into a series of lines by very! spirited! student helpers, and then the incoming students could get out and walk over to a table where they could pick up their room keys, IDs, student-orientation-group assignment, and goody bag. Rob came back to the car and then we waited for a long time to be included in a batch of cars sent on ahead to the luggage-drop-off part of the process. The spirited helpers came over periodically to chat, tell us their majors, ask if we had questions, apologize for the wait, etc. I’d started leaking tears as soon as I saw the welcoming party, so I was glad Paul took over here, but no one seemed at all surprised to see tears. One student helper said sympathetically to me, “Is this your first college drop-off?,” and all I could do was nod. “Next time you’ll be an expert!,” she said.

When we got to the head of our line, we were sent in a little batch of about four cars to the next stop: it was basically “take a right, and then your next right,” not anything difficult, and there were signs directing us. An adult with a clipboard met us and told us how it was going to go down: we were going to pull into a little cul-de-sac and park; we were going to unload all the stuff onto the sidewalk/grass; and then one of us was to drive the car far, far away to another lot; a shuttle could bring that driver back to us. We parked as directed, and a student helper came over to introduce herself and tell us where/how we could sign out a luggage cart. Other student helpers were going cheerfully from car to car, helping with the unloading and asking where people were from and what they were majoring in.

Paul drove the car away while Rob got a luggage cart and loaded it up. William and I stayed with the rest of the stuff (did I mention William came with us? William came with us) while Rob went off to find the dorm/room; I suggested he ask one of the student helpers but otherwise let him figure it out himself. He came back after awhile with an empty luggage cart, and the rest of the stuff fit on it and Paul wasn’t back yet and wasn’t answering texts, so William and I went with Rob this time.

The hallway was dim and discouraging, and his room was surprisingly small. But I took heart remembering how small my college dorm room looked to me at first, and how quickly I got used to it. And hallways don’t need to be wide or pretty. Paul arrived from the shuttle and met us in the room, after asking for help from a number of friendly student helpers.

Annnnnnd then we hugged Rob goodbye and left. There were “parent orientation” activities that whole day and the next day, but our impression reading over the information was that these were designed to pry parents away from the students. Plus, we needed to get back to the other kids.

We’d discussed this with Rob ahead of time and he knew we were not staying for the parent stuff, but right as we were leaving he got a little anxious, asking if we were sure we were supposed to go yet, and also asking us to double-check to make SURE he got everything out of the car, and asking us to keep our phones handy in case he suddenly thought of something he forgot and needed to contact us. Because we’d checked in early, his dorm floor was virtually empty; this would have been an upside of going at our assigned time. I’ll bet a few hours later there was an RA greeting everyone and lots of noise and kids.

We left him to do his own unpacking. I’d seen stuff about parents wanting to unpack the things, and how kids should be patient if mom wants to make up the bed for the last time, but I didn’t have much of that impulse: it seemed like he should put his own stuff away in his own room. That’s when I feel like I’m taking possession of a new room/apartment/house: when I figure out where to put all my things. Also, he’s been making up his own bed for years. Also, it seemed like a good way for him to kill time before other people arrived.

It did feel distressing to leave him there and walk out of the dorm. That would have been the upside of staying for the parent stuff: it’s a more gradual goodbye. But I was able to talk myself through it, especially with Paul there also talking himself through it. I would have a panicky thought (for example, “What about LUNCH?? We didn’t find the cafeteria with him or go over with him how to use his ID card to get meals!!”), and then both of us would ping-pong assurances back and forth: “He has a map: he can find it,” “Finding this stuff on his own is a GOOD thing,” “He probably still has some car snacks with him,” “He was supposed to check in at lunch time, so there should be an RA around by then, and he’ll help,” “Every single staff member here KNOWS they’re dealing with incoming freshmen who don’t know how to do anything,” “If he misses a single meal he will in no way perish.”

I found it comforting to remember myself being at college those first few days. It was kind of overwhelming and weird, yes, but did I feel as if I were physically and mentally incapable of finding the dining hall? Heck no. Did I feel as if there was no way I could choose my classes, see my advisor, find my way to another building on campus? Bitch please, I was a GROWN WOMAN. Plus, just as the college has a personal interest in making drop-off easier, they have a personal interest in getting the students settled in and feeling comfortable: student orientation is ABOUT getting STUDENTS all ORIENTED so they know where they are and what to do and how to get there.

On the way out I asked if we could stop at the bookstore, because I thought it would make me feel much, much, much better to buy a college coffee mug to drink out of moodily the next day. We’d thought the bookstore might be mobbed, but it was not at all. I got a coffee mug. And a car-window decal. And some pens. Everything was so overpriced, it was silly: four cheapo freebie/handout-quality pens I probably could have taken for free at the Admissions office, $7.98. Coffee mug, $14.98. FREE ADVERTISING FOR THE COLLEGE car sticker: $6.98. WHATEVER. I PAID IT. AND I WAS GLAD.

I continued to feel distressed as we drove away. I kept thinking of anxious things, some of them marginally legit and some more along the lines of “What if we were supposed to stay with him until an RA arrived????” Mostly I was bothered by the mental picture I had of him sitting alone in his room not knowing what to do about lunch. So after about an hour, when William texted Rob, “So how’s college life?,” and Rob texted back, “Pretty good. Having a turkey sandwich at the dining hall,” that took a LOT of weight off my mind: he left his room! he left his dorm! he found the dining hall and figured out how to use it! HE’S HAVING LUNCH!! SOMEONE FED MY BABY!!!

When we got home, we found we could look up the student orientation schedule online and see what he was likely doing each day. Also, there’s a special college Facebook group for parents of students at this college, and they’re being good about posting pictures and videos of orientation activities. (We’re seeing pictures and videos of the “parent orientation,” too, and it looks…dorky. We’re glad we didn’t stay for that.) Paul and I are jumpy about information right now: when the college live-streamed the convocation ceremony, and the camera panned the crowd beforehand, I was about three inches from the screen trying unsuccessfully to find Rob. Paul will cross the house to tell me that according to the schedule Rob is now playing board games with his orientation group.

The whole thing has seemed one part surreal, one part anticlimactic, and one part distressing-at-normal-expected-levels. It’s surreal because it’s Really Actually Happening: this thing I thought about for so long, starting with a weeping fit about it when he was a newborn and I was really tired. Anticlimactic because all that worry, all that stress, all that planning, and then it’s like…”Okay, see ya!” and The Big Emotional Moment is over and life continues; plus, this has been a long road of predictable milestones, so although this is one of the big ones it’s also just the next milestone. Distressing because of course it’s distressing: he’s been living with me since conception and now he lives somewhere else and I only have access to what he chooses to tell me about his life; this is not a small thing or minor transition.

The peak stress for me was the day before we left; once we were on the road I felt better. The second peak of distress was right at leaving time, but then that turned into more of a surreal feeling. The third peak was when I realized we hadn’t figured out his lunch.

I felt better when we got the text from the dining hall; when he emailed the next day and he already had some people to hang out with; and when I had two stiff shots of gin out of my new coffee mug.

63 thoughts on “What It Was Like To Take a Child to College

  1. Jean

    As we were leaving after dropping off Thing 2 at college (I was a little weepy, totally out of character for me), he handed me a note and said to read it after we were out of College Town. As we were headed down the interstate, I read it out loud to The Husband. It was a lovely note – thanking us for everything we’d done, how prepared he felt for this new adventure, etc. By then I was choking back real tears and The Husband was wiping his eyes as he drove.

    Then…Sorry, Mom. I know you’ll be mad about this, but I got another speeding ticket. (Backstory – he got three tickets his sophomore year and lost his license for 90 days AND had to go on SR22 insurance for two years). GONE were the tears, I flew into an immediate rage and ranted for a couple of miles about his irresponsibility and general stupidity).

    I calmed down and finished reading the letter. The first P.S. said ‘Just kidding, Mom. I didn’t get a ticket. I figured you’d be crying and wanted to distract you. Love you!’

    I want that letter to be buried with me. It’s one of my most prized possessions. Oh, and he graduates in December and already has accepted an IT job at the company where I work. All good.

    Reply
    1. Tessa

      This made me cry (out of character for me) and mine are all under 7! If something even remotely close to this happens to me then I will consider my parenting a job well done. Great work!

      Reply
      1. Jean

        I always remember what my mom told me ‘You can only take half the credit and half the blame’. So I’m taking my half! Guess I get half the blame for the speeding tickets, too, though, huh?

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    2. Angela

      Yes, you made me cry with this comment too. Thanks! But also makes me feel like the similar letter I wrote to my mom after I had my first baby is appreciated by her too. <3

      Reply
  2. el-e-e

    I just love your thought processes. Especially two shots of gin from your new college mug. GENIUS!! I also love William’s “So how’s college life?” hahaha. Clever.

    This sounds exactly like I remember my own dropoff. Chaotic but so! friendly! — buildup to an anticlimactic “see ya, bye,” and then a moment of panic (“Wait, don’t go yet!”), and then my parents went, and I very soon found some people to meet, and go to the dining hall with. The end, I was fine. All of a sudden I was there living a new life.

    Rob is going to love it. Thinking of you. <3

    Reply
  3. Britni

    Oh I’m glad you took William! I thought you should but didn’t want to harp by throwing in another comment for it on the original post. It doesn’t really sound like you needed him tho – Rob moved himself in 2 trips for car to dorm?? This is amazing to me!

    Years later my mother revealed to me she had cried hysterically the entire 3 hr drive home after dropping me off at college. I never realized and have seen the entire process through a different lense ever since.

    Now, will you send William (or any of the others) up for sibling day??

    Reply
  4. Lawyerish

    I’m only a little bit embarrassed to tell you that I am openly weeping at this post. All of it. ALL OF IT.

    (Though the last bit about the gin made me laugh through my tears.)

    Reply
  5. Rowan

    “On the way out I asked if we could stop at the bookstore, because I thought it would make me feel much, much, much better to buy a college coffee mug to drink out of moodily the next day. ”
    I literally did/am doing this same thing, after dropping my son off yesterday. And crying my way through your post. The only thing that consoles me is I know he was ready to go, and he’s happy to be there.

    Reply
  6. Tina G

    When we dropped my son off at college, it was about a week later and I just walked into his room and sat down and cried. It was kind of a hard time for me because my extremely anxious 4 year old started preschool a few weeks later and I was just feeling a lot of stress and worry for everyone. Although many years have passed, it seems so much more recent- and in 4 years my younger one will be going away to college.

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  7. Squirrel Bait

    Aw, I’m so excited for Rob! I remember being kind of freaked out those first few days at college. And I remember everybody else in my dorm seeming sort of lost and overwhelmed, which means we all banded together and helped each other and explored our new place together and eventually fell into life-long (so far) friendships. I think he’s going to have a great time and learn a lot of new things, and I’m glad you’re handling the transition so well.

    Reply
    1. Cara

      Oh, thank goodness. I’m not alone. My kids are 7 and 2. One would think I would be able to calmly put off those tears for a few years. Nope. I’m sitting here crying and coming up with ploys to keep them from ever moving out.

      Reply
  8. heidi

    As someone who is currently working at a university and helps plan for orientation week, I will say, the parent programming is to calm parent’s fear, concerns, and to make them feel better about leaving their babies. Skipping it is totally fine. It is exactly how you described. Trying to help parents gradually let go. (Have to love the parents that want to go to the first couple of classes with their kids… no. Just no.) Sounds like you all did great. He will be exhausted by the end of the week – too little sleep and a million things orienting him to keep him busy. But, he should be all settled in when classes start.

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  9. LeighTX

    Oh, Swistle. All the internet hugs to you; you survived this Big Thing! Here’s hoping Rob has an amazing year. :)

    Reply
  10. Tessie

    Well, you did great. WELL DONE, ALL.

    I am nearly 40 years old, and the only time IN MY WHOLE LIFE I have seen my mom cry is when she left me at Baylor. I was so shocked I didn’t have time to be upset. It must have been harder in the days before cell phones and texting (or maybe not?).

    I look forward to updates, and also more dropoff comments. xx

    Reply
    1. Swistle Post author

      The three littler ones are mostly like “Yay, more food for us!” I’m interested to see how William will cope: he and Rob have been pretty close the last couple of years and often stay up talking.

      Reply
      1. Cara

        When I left for college, my mother encouraged my sister (who was 11) to write me. College mail is awesome, and it encouraged our bond. We wrote back and forth for all of four years, and it solidified a bond that could easily have broken. With six years between us, I graduated college and left the state for graduate school before my sister even finished high school. And yet she is my best friend.

        Reply
  11. Tracy

    I came here this morning hoping to find this exact post! Thank you for always so honestly sharing your experiences with this stuff. You did really good! Rob did good! I remember freshmen move-in day being a huge clustermuck and I went to a small college. There was also no parent orientation! I remember my parents being stuck on campus though due to a dead car battery. I also remember the lamest orientation programs ever! I’ve got 3 years to prepare before my oldest heads to college… but I know it’s just a few blinks away.

    So will he be home for Thanksgiving?

    Reply
  12. lynn

    It’s so great that you’re able to drop him off in person. Back in the 80’s, my parents put me on a plane (from Florida to Boston) with suitcases of stuff. Looking back that seems crazy, but at the time it was fine. The college had student volunteers at the airport to meet and shuttle us and our suitcases to campus, dorms were furnished, and I went out to buy other stuff I needed as necessary (like a winter coat!).

    And I called my folks long-distance and collect as needed – remember when that cost $$$!? And then they came to visit for parents weekend sometime later in the fall.

    Reply
    1. Angela

      Some people still do this–crazy people like my husband! (In 2005–is that “still?”) He said goodbye to his parents, got on a plane and went from CA to TX for college alone even though he’d never once set foot in Texas in his life and didn’t know a single person in the whole state.! Got a cab, showed up at the dorm, etc. all alone and totally unworried. I can’t imagine doing that myself or letting my kids do that!

      Reply
  13. Erin

    Add me to the list of those who are crying. My eldest just started kindergarten this month and that has been difficult for me – even though I work full-time and don’t see him any less – he’s growing up! He’s more independent. He is with new strangers and has to make new friends and learn new things. I fretted on his first day of school: how will he know how to get his lunch in the cafeteria, will he be able to find his class, his bus, etc.? Will his teacher know how amazing of a kid he is? I can’t even begin to imagine the college drop-off.

    Reply
    1. Shawna

      Your kindergarten has a cafeteria? I’ve noticed a lot of posts/comments on a lot of blogs make reference to cafeterias at school in the lower grades. Is this an American thing? Because I don’t think I know of any elementary school with a cafeteria where I live (Canada). I’m not sure what is standard for middle school as mine shared a building with the high school, but I associate cafeterias with high school only.

      Reply
      1. Erin

        Yes, I believe all elementary schools do here in the U.S. My son’s elementary school has the children actually pick out their food and scoop it onto their trays. When they go to pay, the cashier then makes sure that the children have chosen at least one veggie, one fruit, etc.

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      2. M

        In the US, schools are required to provide free lunches to low income students, which means they need a cafeteria. In Chicago, all students get free breakfast and lunch regardless of income for K-12 grades. My elementary school didn’t have any students that qualified for free lunches, so we didn’t have a cafeteria and just ate lunch in the gym.

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  14. yasmara

    I LOVE THIS UPDATE! I remember my freshman dorm moving-in and it’s hard to believe my firstborn is only 6 years away from it himself. Although, he wants to apply for the local public boarding school for math & science and I will be a mess if he moves out his junior year of HS (it’s only 30 minutes away). I’m a cryer, there will definitely be Feelings and Tears…

    Reply
  15. Kristin H

    I am feeling a bit weepy today about my own oldest child moving on to other things, so I laughed out loud at the end of the post. Consider that advice TAKEN.

    Reply
  16. Alex

    My daughter is 16 months, and I just sobbed–SOBBED!–through this post. Might have to go peek in on her nap to make sure she is still a baby.

    Reply
  17. Becky

    Oh Swistle, I have loved following your send Rob off to college stories. My oldest started high school last week and I have had a couple of VERY. BIG. freak outs about it, starting back at the end of 8th grade when she was first accepted into a special HS program. Things like, omg I only have 4 years left, have I taught her everything she could ever need to know? What about boys? HIGH SCHOOL boys? The school is so BIG, will she get lost? So much homework, how will she cope? Mah baby isn’t a baby. She played in the pep band for 20 minutes the other night at a back to school open house thing, and I fought back tears through the whole thing. She just seemed so , OLD and BIG. Others’ survival stories help me believe that I too will survive :)

    Reply
  18. Kalendi

    I work at a college and helped at one of our student orientations yesterday. Yes, we are wanting to make sure our students have a successful college life and so we go out of our way to help them through the process. Some of our students were very independent and did it all by themselves and others had varying degrees of parental support. But over all everyone was upbeat and excited. We had students asking all of kinds of questions: like where’s the cafeteria, how does this work etc. I am glad that your experience worked out so well. Also there were some parents who were having trouble leaving, and some kids that were embarrassed by them, or sad when they left. All part of the growing up process.

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  19. Angela

    Walking away was the hardest part for me too…of dropping my oldest off at Kindergarten this week. I’ve been a panicky mess for weeks leading up to this! All this talk about life just going on anyway after things we dread happen makes me feel like having an existential crisis.

    But now it’s here and the 6 a.m. wake up (Followed by a half mile walk to school pushing a double stroller) after being up half the night with my 3 month old is keeping me sleep deprived enough to not worry about it anymore! Life does go on.

    Reply
  20. laura

    In my experience, the only time I ever felt homesick was the first few days of college, and I called my mom and asked if I could PLEASE JUST COME HOME. She did not let me (correct), but now as a mom of an increasingly older child, that must have been excruciating for her. I guess I am suggesting forcing Rob to settle in, even if he wants to come home sometime.

    I also LOVED having my (3 yrs younger) sister visit. Sending William to visit Rob by himself at some point might be fun for the both of them.

    Reply
  21. whitney

    Best post. I’ve also really enjoyed following along on this journey. I can’t wait to hear updates. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

    Reply
  22. Ann Miera

    We are taking my daughter to college next week, and although this is our second time, it’s much harder! My oldest is a boy and has a definite no worries personality. Unfortunately, he didn’t worry about going to class either, so now he is home going to community college. My daughter is like me, much more of an anxious personality. She has gotten very clingy and flat out says she is worried about making friends, fitting in,college level classes etc. I’m trying really hard to be brave and confident for her, and tell her that it will all be fine, and actually mean it when I say it. But it’s breaking my heart! Just like her, I went to a college far from home where I didn’t know anyone, and I survived and even made some lifelong friends. Somehow that’s still not helping me cope. Any advice from any Swistle readers who have daughters like mine?

    Reply
    1. Nicole

      Not that long ago I was just like you describe your daughter! I grew up in NJ and went to school in MN, a state where I knew no one. I never would have admitted it to my mother but I was so very anxious about meeting people, making friends, fitting in, etc. It took me awhile (a couple months?) to feel like I really had a solid friend group, partly because I’m shy and take a long time warm up to people, and partly because the friends I had left behind in NJ had been my closet friends forever (some of them I had been best friends with since first grade!) so there was no way a friendship with someone I’d known only a few weeks could feel the same as friends I’d known for years. But I found a friend group that I stayed close with for all four years of college, and a few of them I am still close with now, five years after graduating.

      One of my very best and closest friends today is a girl I met on the first night of freshmen orientation. We weren’t friends “immediately” or anything like that, it took a couple weeks before I felt like we were friends. But we lived together for 3 years at school, we’ve met each other’s families, I couldn’t imagine my life without her. And yet if you asked how we became friends, I couldn’t answer – it just happened.

      Being shy and anxious felt like a huge insurmountable wall at the time, but in retrospect it was more of a small hill I had to hike up. Being bubbly and outgoing would have made things easier at the beginning of college, but not being that way didn’t stop me from having a satisfying college experience and really fulfilling friendships – it just took a little longer. Even just getting to know the campus better so I didn’t feel like I was going to get lost every time I stepped outside my dorm, getting into a routine of classes/work/homework, and figuring out little things like the laundry and the communal bathrooms and the cafeteria helped a lot with the more existential “will I fit in and make any friends?” type of anxiety.

      Your daughter will do great. Just remember that even when everything feels big and daunting and new in September, by November it’s going to be home

      Reply
    2. Christa

      I think everything you are already saying is great. Reassuring her that in the hundreds/thousands of other students, she will most definitely find a few friends. Reminding her that it does take time to feel comfortable in a new environment and to give herself time to allow for that. Most colleges have clubs based on interests and also optional social activities like movie nights, etc which are a great way to meet people. Also maybe help her to come up with a few items/ ways that she can cope if she is feeling anxious- listen to a playlist of favorite songs, decorate her dorm room with a picture from home, even a stuffed animal to snuggle that smells like home would work. I know not all parents agree with me on this but I think it is also important for students to know that they can transfer if after a year (or semester) they are unhappy. Sometimes I think it helps just knowing that they are not stuck there for four years no matter what (as long as that’s an option). (I work at a college: )

      Reply
  23. Leeann

    So I read your post and was nodding and crying, because I just got back from taking my child for his freshman year of college only an hour ago!

    He is much closer distance wise than my daughter had been, but we won’t see him for at least a month. I will miss having him home so much. I am very curious to see how my third/lastborn will do as an only child though.

    Keep us posted on Rob. I’m sure he will be more than fine.

    Reply
  24. Gigi

    Oh Swistle, sending you a virtual hug, while wiping my eyes. I know that this whole thing has been stressful and hard. Getting in the car and driving away was the hardest part, I remember.

    I also remember buying something at the bookstore. Here’s a tip for next time you want college-themed items, find the local WalMart. The one in the town where my son went to college had everything you could possibly want that was be-decked with the college name, mascot, etc.

    Reply
  25. M.Amanda

    This made me weepy. My younger one started kindergarten last week. I kept worrying that he’d not know where to go or what he was supposed to do and get scared. It really helped to remember that he is so much less anxious than his sister, who did just fine because while she was a newbie, the people I just handed her off to have done this for many years and are used to showing the kids around and helping them figure it out and reassuring them. It sounds like Rob’s college has it figured out, too. He will be just fine.

    Reply
  26. P-Mum

    “I only have access to what he chooses to tell me about his life” I don’t know what freaks me out more – this thought, or the fact that I have to trust she will be where she’s supposed to be when she’s supposed to be there without me reminding her (for my peace of mind, not because she needs it). We leave in 14 hours.

    Reply
  27. Elsk

    Loved this post, especially the last couple lines. But I wanted to say that sometimes I go through your old posts, almost like comfort-reading, and I HAPPENED tonight to come across this very one (re Rob starting clarinet lessons):

    “He remembered the lesson, which was my primary concern: I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten to remind him as he got on the bus, and also I don’t know how I’m going to let him go off to college where he’s going to have to remember to get up, remember to shower, remember to go to class, remember to do his homework……. Well, anyway, let’s save that panic for another day.”

    Reply
    1. Mtbakergirl

      I wanted to chime in that I comfort read old swistle posts too!

      Thinking of the swistle family as they make this transition and thank you for all you share here, I hope you know how much your voice helps other mums!

      Reply
  28. Becky

    I also work at a University where students showed up this week – it looked a lot like you are describing. And you are absolutely right. If it helps to understand, the reason they say it’s the RULE is because they want most people to follow those directions, in order to maintain some semblance of order. They know many people won’t read or remember the details, and some will have circumstances that mean they don’t follow the given order, and that’s all ok as long as most do.

    And you are also right that people know incoming students don’t know anything, and we are happy to help! :)

    Reply
  29. Corinne Brzeski

    Oh, Swistle, I leaked tears the whole time I read this. And I’m sitting across the table from my boss so I had do cough a little and vigorously rub my eyes and read really fast so I didn’t get too weepy. I am so glad it went well! And I’m having VIVID flashbacks of my first few days at college (which were very happy) – finding the dining room, meeting new people, getting oriented to where noises came from and where everything was. What an exciting time for Rob. Aaaaand now I’m crying again. Time to get back to work! Lots of hugs and high fives on producing an “adult”!

    Reply
  30. Maggie

    I still remember 30 years ago when my parents dropped me off at college I told them “You have to leave now or I’ll never make friends” because I could tell they either had to go now or I was going to cave and go back home with them (obviously not, but that’s what it felt like). I didn’t expect to feel that way frankly because my mom and I were DONE with each other by the time college rolled around, but there I was suddenly feeling sad. Now that Oldest is in HS and I’m staring down the barrel of him leaving for college in just a few years I hope I have the strength to leave on time so he can make friends :-)

    Reply
  31. Matti

    Swistle I loved this post and all the comments, add me to the list of ALL the tears, even though my kids aren’t even all in elementary school yet. When you described how Rob acted like it was wall NBD, until you guys were getting ready to leave and then started trying to delay your leaving. ALL THE FEELS.

    I think you guys all handled it super well though. Good luck to Rob! I’m looking forward to the updates. And taking copious notes :)

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  32. Therese

    Considering I’ve yet to make it through the first day of schools for my kids (jus started 1st and 2nd grade) without some tears, I can’t imagine what college drop-off will be like!

    As an employee in the Dean of Students Office at a large state public university I can say that you are 100% correct that it is in the school’s best interest for drop-off and new-student activities to go well. I can also tell you that lots of faculty and staff are invested in student success. I received an email at about 4:00 pm yesterday (Friday afternoon) from a mother of a new student at my school. She was worried that her daughter was spending all of her time in her room alone (except for attending classes) and was already asking to come home. Before 5:00 myself, the Director of Residence Life, the student’s building Resident Director, Director of Student Orgs, and her academic advisor were working quietly behind the scenes to check-in and reach out. If we do our jobs well, the student will get the support/connection she needs without knowing for sure (unless her mother tells her) that her mother called us.

    People care (at least at my school) and genuinely work to support student success (holistically, not just in the classroom).

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  33. LoriD

    Great post. I spent some time over the weekend with friends who were doing the drop-off for the first time this year and others who were on their second/third kids. They all said that the first hour of the drive home is the worst – they describe a sense of loss – but that, like all transitions, emotions eventually even out and all is well. It’s my turn next year.

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  34. Shawna

    It’s funny because I was so independent that my college drop-off was absolutely nothing like Rob’s (my dad dropped me off, gave me a hug, and hit the road as fast as he could, my mom didn’t even come because she and my dad weren’t together anymore, and I’m not sure I even saw her within the last few days before I left since I wasn’t living at home that summer anyway), yet I could easily imagine your experience will be a lot like mine when it comes time to take my own kids to university. I am MUCH more of an involved parent than my parents were, and talk and interact with my kids way more than they did, at least so far (my kids are 11 and 9).

    Of course, they haven’t turned into teenagers yet so who knows? According to some parents of teens I know, I should be bracing myself and might be glad to see them out of my house by the time they’re ready for university. I find it hard to picture, but I guess we’ll see. Your blog has actually given me real hope that not all teenagers are horrendous to live with.

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