Going away to college can be scary not only for the student, but for the parents too! There are hundreds of checklists for the student to use to prepare for college, but there aren’t always a lot of tips for the parents to look at. I asked students throughout the UC what things their parents struggled with when they moved out, and what they would suggest for parents of incoming freshmen.

  • Spend quality time together
    • College is the first time a lot of freshmen will be on their own and away from home for long periods of time. Spending quality time together before they move away is really important in making sure your relationship stays strong. If you make sure to spend intentional time with your student before they leave, it will help to keep you closer. Your student also is more likely to answer your phone calls when they’re at school if you grow closer before they start.
  • Go through important details together
    • As a student employee on campus I have seen many parents who never spoke to their child about what expectations were for finances, move-in, and how college works in general. Communication is crucial for sending a child to college, and it unfortunately can easily be forgotten. It is also important to go through these important details together, especially since this upcoming school year will look a little different, so there is mutual understanding.
  • Try to let your student do things on their own
    • While it is important to have solid communication before you bring your student to school, it is also good to give them some independence in areas. My parents were willing to help me when needed, but allowed me to do a lot of things on my own when preparing for college. Giving the student the freedom to learn how to manage adult tasks on their own helps prepare them for life on their own.
  • Move-In Day
    • Move-in day can be chaotic and get stressful if you let it. I found that the best way to prepare for this day is to take advantage of the early drop-off dates! Your student should have gotten this information about a list of dates and where to sign up. By minimizing how much stuff you are bringing on one of the busiest days of the year it will help to relieve some of the stress. It also helps if everything is labeled clearly, so you know where the important things to unpack are. I also found it helpful to coordinate with my roommate, so we were not moving in at the same time. Finally, I would recommend letting your student take the reins on this day. While it may be difficult to step back when it seems like there is so much to do, it allows the student to feel like they are in control. The student will have a lot to think about and get used to on move-in day, and being able to call the shots about where things are going can help to give them some control.
  • Bring lots of tissues
    • While it is exciting to bring your student to college, it is a very emotional day. It is okay to cry when dropping your child off. A good way to get through the emotions is to schedule a phone call or facetime once they’ve settled in. A lot of families will go to dinner on move in day to celebrate being done with move in and just to spend some quality time together. When it comes time to say goodbye to your student, don’t be afraid to hug them extra tight and take your time. While it isn’t a goodbye forever, it is a moment of transition and realizing that your child is becoming an adult. Another way to help get through the sad parts of moving your child into college is by starting a countdown to the next time you’ll see them! First Year Experience holds a Family Fest every semester, and this year’s is on October 7, 2023. This event is a fun time for students to have their families come to Whitewater for the football game, activities, and more!
  • Make friends with other parents
    • By getting in contact with other student’s parents, you will feel more connected to the campus and your student. It is also very helpful in that you can relate to other parents in sending your student to college. They may have their own tips for what they’ve done, and you might be able to get more information through them about your child’s school.
  • Give it time
    • Getting situated in college can be a difficult and long process for students. While you may want to call them immediately after you pull away from their dorm, it is good to give them a little space right away. Parents sometimes have a lot of questions for their student and that can be very overwhelming for them. If you can wait a couple days to ask them questions, you will probably get more thorough answers and more information. It will be an adjustment for everyone during this time and it probably won’t happen in 24 hours.
  • Mailing Address
    • Finally, one big piece of information that doesn’t always get shared with parents is how to format the mailing address! While you will have to get the specific address of your student’s dorm hall, this is the basic outline for mailing.

Student Name

                                                                            Dorm Hall, RM #

Hall Street (this should be provided to you)

Whitewater, WI 53190

College comes with a lot of stressors and memories, but parents don’t always know what to expect. More importantly, even though you are dropping them off at school, they will still need your love and support to help them through the year(s) to come! I hope that some of these tips will help you as you are preparing to send your student to college this year!

If you have more questions about specifics in this post, you can contact:

  • UW-W Cashier’s Office (262)472-1378, cashiers@uww.edu
  • First Year Experience (262)472-3205, fye@uww.edu
  • University Housing (262)472-4255, housing@uww.edu
  • Financial Aid (262)472-1130, uwwfao@uww.edu