June 17, 2021

College Move-In Tips

Bringing your student to college is an emotional and logistical obstacle course fit for the X-Games. The actual process of moving into a dorm is the military equivalent of relocating to a new theatre of operations. But here are some College Move In Survival Tips fresh from the Front that might make the move to college a little easier!

College Dorm Stuff

Let’s start with moving the STUFF. Here are the facts. Girls have more than boys. A LOT more. And you will, no doubt, surrender the use of your living room to countless piles of it as it awaits transport. But its mostly crushable fabric with a bucket or two of potions and lotions. Since we were moving our princess to Chicago, a mere 1732 miles away (but who’s counting), we considered but nixed the idea of driving her to school. Instead, we got our Southwest Airlines Credit Card to pay for our Southwest Airlines flights (earning miles on our MILES) and loaded our 2 large bags per person plus carry-ons!

College Move In

For the stuff we would buy new we took advantage of the Bed Bath and Beyond “shop here, pick it up there” program (FABulous); the local store gave us a “college shopping list” and one of those scanners. We walked around like brides-to-be, scanning this and that with abandon. Our order went into the hands of their program specialist who assured us it would be waiting for us at a BBB nearest our University. And it worked JUST LIKE THAT. Even better, once in Chicago we had the chance to revisit our choices, which were only slightly overindulgent, opt out of a few items, and use the whole fistful of BBB coupons we had been collecting (even the expired ones).

We still required a trip to the local Target for the best color selection of plastic storage/organizing baskets, for hand-sanitizer, Kleenex, TP (yes, her dorm does not supply toilet paper!) etc. 47 trips up and down 4 flights of stairs and the kid was moved in.

Dorm Technology

Guys move-in to college with TECHNOLOGY — that and 4 pairs of shorts, 8 t-shirts, 2 sweatshirts and a couple pairs of shoes. But the computers, speakers, extra screens/TV’s, guitars, amps and game components can take up a whole car. That’s before you add the skateboards, a mountain bike, and maybe golf clubs or a surfboard.

I’m so glad that our son was only a day’s drive away. We caravanned a few cars and got the job done. Fewer trips up the stairs. Zero concern for color coordinating baskets and bedspreads. In fact, on-site shopping consisted of the local Costco for major snacks, and Best Buy for cables/connections and to scope out the flat screens. A guy who has to fly to his university better have a technologically well-endowed roommate!

Paperwork on Campus

If your student’s Orientation takes place around move-in, make sure he/she brings a high school transcript, copies of test scores, including all AP test scores, and transcripts for any college classes he/she may have taken.

Your school will also want immunization records. In fact, you should also get from your doctor two prescription refills — one for the home pharmacy and one for a pharmacy near the school. You don’t want to transfer the prescription outright because you can be sure that the prescription will run out when they are home for winter break. And make sure your student has a health insurance card with them.

Banking is something else you need to sort out. For my son, we opened an account close to home at a bank that had an ATM on the campus. But that wasn’t possible for my daughter. Fortunately, the university has a great set up with a local Chicago bank — free checking, ATM’s and an office on campus. In addition, the online banking function includes a calendar with all of the school’s major events on it, including the dates that tuition is due! Ask the school what the banking resources are before you go.

College Move-In, Saying Goodbye

The emotional aspects of letting go are much more difficult. Which is probably why many schools set a time of departure for parents that appears on the Move In Schedule. With my youngest and only daughter, I was really anticipating that my husband would have to sling me over his back and carry my writhing body off as my horrified daughter tried desperately to lose herself in the crowd which would surely have gathered.

Fortunately, it was nothing like that. I think the reason was that our departure followed a two day Orientation, which had a full slate of optional parent programs. Trundling from here to there, occasionally climbing up on pedestals and balustrades to catch a glimpse of the students (and my BABY) as they passed by, gave us the hours we needed to settle in and get comfortable on the campus. Our brief encounters with our student included introductions to her new friends and polite exchanges that reassured and impressed me with what great kids she will be with. All of it enabled me to have a happier — and more dignified– parting, knowing what a great adventure she is embarking upon.

Like camp. Only a tad bit longer. I can handle this.


Alcohol and Young Adults

Speaking of high risk behavior…..how about young adults and alcohol. Maybe you’re a bit weary, having held the line on teens and drinking through high school and maybe even middle school.  By high school graduation, you might be thinking, what’s the point?  When they leave they’re going to be drinking anyway no matter what the drinking age.  Besides, they’re young ADULTS.
But here are some facts to renew you for the last mile of your parenting journey where kids and alcohol are concerned. They are sobering and even downright chilling. 

Life, Health, Suicide

  • 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
  • 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.
  • More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem, and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.

Maybe you’ve decided it’s okay if they don’t drive….but it doesn’t always work that way.

  • 2.1 million students between the ages of 18 and 24 drove under the influence of alcohol last year. 

What About Alcohol and Sex?

  • More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.

Alcohol Affects their Education

  • About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.

What would it mean if your kid got arrested?

  • About 11 percent of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while under the influence of alcohol.
  • More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and over 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a “moderate” or “major” problem with alcohol-related property damage.
  • About 5 percent of 4-year college students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of their drinking and an estimated 110,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are arrested for an alcohol-related violation such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence.

College Drinking can be the Start of Lifelong Problems

  • 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the past 12 months, according to questionnaire-based self-reports about their drinking.

So what are you supposed to do about all this?  

Every reliable authority on the subject of teens and alcohol states that nearly 75% of kids cite their parents as the primary influence in their decisions about whether they drink alcohol or not. 
To influence them you need to communicate.  That’s hard for most of us.  We might enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.  Are we being hypocritical when we tell them no alcohol at home until they are 21?
In our family, alcohol use is a big issue.  Shake any branch of our family tree and down will fall a problem drinker, Mike’s Hard Lemonade in hand.  So this is what I’ve told my kids:
  • Genetics has a big influence on whether alcohol becomes a problem for you and, sorry to say, you are at a big disadvantage there.
  • Every year you hold out means that the performance-compromised kids around you are a little bit older, a little bit more mature. An inebriated 21-year-old might make slightly better decisions than a drunk 17-year-old.  
  • Before you make that decision to drink, observe the kids who are drinking.  What are they doing?  What do you think of them?  Is that who you want to be?
  • I will go anywhere, anytime, wear any disguise, to bring you home. I will doze on the couch, cellphone in hand til you are safely home. When you are away at school, find a buddy who will do the same.
At home, we’ll stick to the law…meaning no drinking before age 21.  And then, only in moderation.
How’s this approach working?  With one half-way through college and one going next year, so far so good.  Having seen adult family members fall from the heights of success has brought the message home, too.
It’s a big topic that we need to open up in conversation. Beneath the glamorous and outwardly benign veneer of social drinking is a hairy monster.  Those of us who have seen it up close know that every kid who leaves home is walking into the belly of the beast.  What have you done to equip them?  What has worked? What hasn’t?  
If you can, direct open-minded kids to a great quick read.
For teens try this link at kidshealth.org   
If you’d like more information, here’s a great source from the Federal Government’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Acoholism

Off to College Essentials– Dorm Room

Just what are you going to need to make that cold, bare, unfriendly dorm room livable?

Dorm Room Must Haves

Fully enclosed mattress pad

Additional (memory) foam pad

1-2 set of sheets

Good pillow

Warm blanket/down thing

Portable/foldable Laundry basket, preferably with pocket for SMALL* laundry soap & dryer sheets

          *for no more than 10 loads – probably 2 loads!

If they can’t use their ID card for laundry, Roll of quarters


Bulletin board & pins

Posters and sticky stuff to put them up

Shower kit/caddy

Box of Kleenex

Extra headphones

Plate, mug, spoon/fork/knife, sharp knife.

??coffee maker??

Snacking food:  crackers, cocoa, fruit (okay, maybe not), cookies, Monster Beverages, etc.

Assorted plastic storage.

P.S.  4 sturdy plastic crates from Target WILL support a bed – more underbed storage clearance.