Seven Tips for Surviving the College Drop-off Process

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UConn Foundation

2 min read

With college drop-off just a few days away, UConn parents are bracing for what can be an emotional rollercoaster. Even if you are super organized and have had boxes packed for weeks, it can be hard to prepare for the mix of emotions tied to letting your child go, especially if your baby is the last to leave the nest.

We did some research and talked to Eva Lefkowitz, UConn professor and department head of Human Development and Family Studies, to understand what is happening and how to handle it.

“Particularly in the modern era, parents are so invested in each child,” Lefkowitz said. “Parents don’t have as many children as they used to and they are used to being pretty involved in the day-to-day lives of their children all the way through high school. So suddenly not having the knowledge and control over what their children are doing is a big adjustment.”

Here are some tips to help you gracefully navigate the college drop-off process.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to give a special gift or say a special goodbye.

The move-in process is distracting and time-consuming and it’s hard to find a special moment to do this. Arrange to do this ahead of time.

  • Don’t wait until they leave for college to have a talk about alcohol, sex, and drugs.

It’s best to start these talks in their early teenage years or even younger, if possible. Even though you may feel that you have lost all authority and control over your teen, it’s important to know that your child has listened through the years and your advice will stick.

  • Expect emotions

This is a big adjustment for you and your child. You may be so busy packing and preparing that it’s easy to overlook. Prepare for emotions and be kind to yourself. You can handle it.

  • Don’t helicopter

You can text or call them after you leave to say hello, but don’t be a helicopter parent. It’s time for them to figure it out and gain some independence.

  • There’s good news

Parents’ marital satisfaction often improves after the children leave home. The teenage years are most challenging on a marriage, so when they leave it actually helps. All of a sudden, parents have more time for each other.

  • Your relationship with your child improves

College students often report that they felt that their relationship with their parents improved after they left home, and that they felt closer to their parents. Their increased autonomy gives them an appreciation for what their parents do for them.

  • And remember, you’ll see them soon


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