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The College Transition “Bible”

“Planning is everything.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower.

How to get ready for the Big Move?

beach volleyballYour teen is about to, or has just graduated from, high school, but he or she is not ready to think about becoming a college freshman yet. Parties, summer jobs, beach trips with friends, vacations with family, and the beginning of what (in their minds) will be an endless summer. Graduating seniors are exhausted, and they deserve a bit of a rest before the next chapter begins. But you’re thinking about college. You certainly have mixed feelings about your son or daughter going away, but unless your student is unusually autonomous, you will probably need to be the primary force planning the big move. So: Where do you start?

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As with most huge tasks, it is best to start with with organization, eating the elephant one bite at a time. For my son’s move to college a number of years ago, I assembled a binder with all the key pieces of information in it, and made a copy for my son and for me. Some of this project we did in tandem, some fell to me. I did not mind, since I knew that this chapter of our relationship would so quickly pass. I modeled organized preparation for a new chapter for him during this prelude to college, so that he would have a blueprint for his independent future. The college transition “bible” as I began to call it, had sections that I share below.

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Travel Information: Essential if your student has to fly to college. Or for accommodations on the way or during the move-in process. You can obviously pull all this up from your laptop or smartphone as needed, but I found a hard-copy book with downloaded sheets helpful, because all the information is organized in one place. I do the same thing when planning any kind of trip with friends or family; although they sometimes tease me about my organizational notebooks, they like having that “bible” as an anchor they can rely on.

US Mail, Package Shipping & Summer Storage Addresses: If your student is going far away, it may make sense to buy dorm gear online and have it shipped directly to college, if the school offers a summer storage address.

moveintwogirlsDorm Checklist: Download a list from your son or daughter’s college web site (with instructions about what/what not to bring). Bed Bath & Beyond, JCPenney, Walmart, Target, and The Container Store also offer comprehensive, downloadable dorm checklists. Looking at a few will remind you of items that you have forgotten or did not even occur to you.

Copies of Important Documents: Completed insurance, medical, immunization forms, copy of insurance card, prescriptions (you can transfer prescriptions with national drug stores like CVS), duplicate glasses and contact lens prescriptions, and passport numbers if any international travel is involved.

welcomefreshmenMaps of Campus & Area: Download campus maps from the college web site and Google area maps. Mark off locations of grocery, pharmacy, office supply, big box stores, malls and restaurants. Smartphones can help you and your student do this in real time on campus, of course, but I find that downloading basic maps to a notebook helps a family to quickly grasp the “lay of the land” before arriving. If your student already has a sense of familiarity with the campus and community, he or she will feel more comfortable.

quietloungegirlOrientation Schedule: Download schedules from the college web site so that your family doesn’t have to keep going back to a laptop to find out what is happening when and where. Your student may or may not be sufficiently mature and independent to know where he or she has to be, and you know your son or daughter best. A little assistance may be helpful to a freshman who lacks confidence before you leave campus; soon enough he or she will have to do it on one’s own when parents are asked to depart.

Emergency Phone Numbers: You can never have too many copies, no matter how often your kid says the numbers are in his or her cell phone.

Related posts: College Dorm Checklist: A Sneak Peek!, College Orientation Rites.