I only have one child who has headed off to college. So naturally, I’m a well-respected expert. The merits of that reality aside, I do have an opinion about “Drop Off Day.”
I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version of my lengthy tome on Dropping Your Child Off at College: Get there early. Let me break that down for you again. Take the time the Freshman Pamphlet says to be there for drop off (8am, let’s say) and minus an hour and a half. Or six hours. Or a day.
Colleges and universities are “on” to the likes of me. Most of them actually forbid activities that I would highly encourage such as: sleeping in your car the night before, pitching a small tent outside the dorm, or scaling the side of the building with your Bed Bath and Beyond coordinating Twin Extra Long bedding strapped to your back.
Have I mentioned that I am a huge fan of panicking early and often?
Now’s the time to embrace that knowledge. Having been a college freshman myself years ago (using stone tablets to take notes was fun!), I remember the cinderblock dorm room as being very small. Room was a generous term. I had arrived as if I was a Romanov fleeing Imperialist Russia. “My Good man, move that trunk!” The good man was my father, and he had not been a fan of the trunk idea at all. All these years later, I knew that less was more.
My daughter was and is highly practical. She had received notice that she would be placed in a “Forced Triple,” which had a very unnerving sound to it, as far as I was concerned. This meant that three girls would be sharing a room meant for two. The only good news was that all three would receive a reduction in dorm charges, and in how many sweaters they could bring.
I helpfully panicked immediately. “OK, it’s going to be fine!” I screeched. “We’ll get there really, really early, and you can nab the lower bunk or the single bed. How are they going to set this room up? What if there’s a fire!” I blacked out and came to, with her calm and reassuring face staring down at me.
“Mom, it will work out. They do this all the time.” She really did seem fine. So I panicked a tiny bit less. Once the instructions for move in day were sent to us, I feared that other, frequent panickers, would also be poised to pounce on move-in day.
“It says we can be at the gates fifteen minutes before they open! Fifteen! The line will go for blocks!” I breathed into my paper bag.
My daughter made it clear that she was perfectly fine moving in to her dorm exactly as the college outlined. I acquiesced, if she agreed that we would be there right on the dot of when it was permissible to enter the hallowed halls. We made a deal. I was a nervous wreck for weeks. It would be mayhem! Some wilier panicker would get into the room the night before! And take the good bed and the closet space! Plus the under bed storage! Hand me my paper bag.
Like the song doesn’t say, we did it her way. We sailed through the gates, were helped up the stairs by cheerful students, and arrived to an empty room.
In what can only be described as a great irony, she chose the top bunk.
So the early bird got to the room first, but sometimes the baby bird wants something different than the mama bird. That’s just as it should be on freshman move in day.
Read more from Lucia Paul on her blog, Dysfunctional Scrapbooking