Let’s Talk: College Drop Off Tips

Hey, y’all! We had a fantastic time on our vacation, and I will be sharing more from that soon! For now, I am so happy to be back here with you, and I wanted to chat about what’s on the horizon for us: dropping off Jackson at college!

So, today, I am changing things up a bit and asking for your tips for college drop off. What do I need, What does he need, any tips to make it run smoothly, or how to navigate are much appreciated!

We are new to this stage, and I would love to hear wisdom from more experienced mamas! Thank you so much, ladies!

See you back here on Friday! XOXO Narci

Categories: Uncategorized

39 replies

  1. Are you wanting a packing list or tips on the actual act of leaving? Most of the schools have suggestions on what to bring and what they can’t that are pretty good. Let him decide what personal items to bring, but it’s nice to tuck in a family pic. Dropping off is hot and sweaty and chaotic. Have lots of patience and water. Familiarize yourself with the process for his dorm. Discuss in advance if he wants to go out for a meal after everything is unloaded and unpacked or if you will just say goodbye in the dorm room. Now for the hard part. When it’s time to go, go. Leave. Don’t hang around. It will be awkward and uncomfortable, but go. Don’t be surprised if he feels aloof. He is filled with all sort of emotions and trying to separate too. Good luck!

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    • Yes, that’s perfect advice Ann! Thank you! ❤️ yes, we have a packing list but if anyone has tips on other items that they found useful, we would love those as well. Appreciate this and you! ❤️

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      • Such good advice Ann! I also think if you can make sure he know that y’all are so happy for him which I know you are! My mom cried so hard when she dropped me off that I am still a little scarred. It’s always exciting for me for when my kids start a new chapter. From potty training to kindergarten to middle school and on and on. Jackson is going to do great!!

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  2. Good morning,

    I am I’m the same stage and would love any tips you get! Please post about them!! I am clueless and overwhelmed.

    I have been told to bring as much as possible because stores near campus will be wiped out of everything!

    I am so sad and happy at the same time!

    Good luck!!

    Dawn

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  3. I had the BEST college drop off trip for my daughter, which exceeded my expectations and left a lasting happy memory for me/us.

    First, we were from WA and she went to school in AZ, so we had to book our tickets, hotel and rent-a-car. If you don’t have to book all of those things- good for you!

    I booked a hotel for like 10 or 14 days. I didn’t want to rush and I wanted to leave feeling like she was comfortable and happy. That is exactly what happened! I hadn’t been on a vacation by myself EVER since my children were born, our son was old enough to stay at our home and with Grandpa, who was close by, my husband had work and then a separate trip booked for six of the days. Then, he met us in AZ for the tail end of my trip.

    When we first arrived, my daughter stayed in the hotel room with me. We traveled to her dorm and I believe we got a view of the room before move in day. We went to Target for our first big trip. It seemed as if most everything she needed/wanted was on sale. The car was packed. Move-in day, a crew came down and met us with a big moving cart and they helped us unload the car and bring all of her stuff up. That was awesome. As we unpacked her and she was setting up, she got ideas of what else that she wanted. So back to Target and the little boutique shops in Tucson near her campus. The crew helped us with the second drop off, too.

    We took time to get coffee, meet for lunches and dinners either with just her, or with one or more of the friends that she was meeting…it was a blast! When I would visit the dorm, the desk help would say, “Hi Mrs. Williams” or Hi Jordan’s Mom…I had such a happy trip watching my daughter get set up and seeing her leave for her sorority parties. When my husband arrived, he got to see her all set-up and happy, too. It was so much easier leaving her knowing that she was all ready to go, making/getting together with friends already and again, happy, ready to begin fall semester.

    Your son probably needs less time with you – haha- but I would highly recommend two or more trips to Target or wherever to get him everything he wants and needs to be comfortable for the year ahead and to enjoy a couple coffees/lunches/dinners in his new college town. I also bought some gift cards from the places we went to and would send those in encouragement cards I would send throughout the school year.

    Enjoy it! It is a very fun time and happy memory!

    My daughter soon began her student Amazon Prime membership soon after that and from then on, seems to mostly order things that she needs from Amazon, so we highly recommend taking advantage of that student prime membership they offer. I believe it is either free for the first six months or half price or something awesome like that.

    So basically, or the short version of my story/tips is/are: a few Target runs, a couple fun coffee stops/lunches/dinners there, and an Amazon Prime membership! -And of course, lots of daily prayers.

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  4. My kids are still too young but I remember my own drop off to university. My advice is this – encourage him to do all of the first year events from the beginning. I know parents want to have dinners, get tours of campus, etc. but let him be to do his own thing so he can just jump in with the other kids (young adults, hah!). If he feels obligated to go out with you guys then he may miss out on those small moments between the big events as people get to know each other. Remind him that he is a good and smart person and that he will make good choices. He will know right from wrong and he shouldn’t need to worry about getting into tough situations, and if he is, he will be able to find his way out.
    And also get a mini-fridge for his room, for milk of course. Just kidding, it can be for beer 🙂

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  5. From a practical standpoint – a couple of surge protectors and the longest phone charger cord you can find are must haves especially if he is lofting his bed. Check and see ahead of time what he’s allowed to use on the walls (thumb tacks, command hooks, etc)-that’s usually very specifically set out and they mean what they say. If his dorm list says he’ll need an ethernet cable, he will-dorms have notoriously crappy wifi for some ridiculous reason. From a mama standpoint, just remember that he’s doing what you’ve raised him to do and he’s exactly where he should be. He will have triumphs and trials and there will be some push/pull emotionally. It will be a little weird, and his first trip home will feel funky. This is a new chapter and a time to forge a different relationship with him. You’ll miss him like crazy and worry about him like never before, but it’s all part of the journey to the wonderful world of having grown kids. On another note, the shift in relationships between your kids will be fun to watch over the next several years but be mindful of the younger ones having their own moments of really missing him as well. The first time my oldest came home my youngest slept in her room with her – it was very sweet. Now that my youngest is in college half way across the country, the 3 of them have sibling facetimes and sibling dates when they’re all in one place. Encourage them to keep in touch with each other without you being the go-between.

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  6. My mom snuck a card in my backpack. It was such a sweet surprise to find, and I still have it! A little less sentimental tip…wrinkle spray! It saved me so much time when I needed to wear a nicer shirt but didn’t have time to iron.

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  7. I did this with my daughter last year and this year my son is moving into student accommodation also. I’m from Northern Ireland so things may be slightly different. Extension leads, fairy lights (possibly too girlie) lots of photos of home, memories and friends. My daughter had a big board already in her dorm for this but bring pins. Favourite snacks, wipes esp with Covid so he can clean things down, an extra blanket just for when at study desk, room freshener (Zara do great ones) Amazon gift card, Starbucks gift card. I also put extra small gifts as surprises when she opened various bags. Agree don’t hang about, help as needed and go. Don’t ask them to message every day, they are so busy and it’s pressure they don’t need (remember if you hear little everything is usually good!) I said all I needed to say before we left our home that means there’s no fuss when you are there. It’s honestly a special time and their growth and maturity when you see them next is just beautiful. Your relationship will be very different now but just as sweet. Thinking of you xx

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  8. Last year we moved our son into his dorm at his school 9 hours away. Because of covid, things looked a little different, but here is what we did. We drove down on a Thursday, met an upperclassman for dinner at a popular spot among students, and stayed the night in a hotel near campus. The next day we made a Target run, checked out the downtown area in the town and had lunch, and then checked into campus at his assigned time. We helped him move in and started setting up his room. He had an activity that evening for incoming freshman, so our goodbye was a little abrupt. We took a couple of pictures with him, prayed together, and left. I did my best to hold it together because although I was going to miss him like crazy, I knew he was exactly where the Lord wanted him to be. Hope this helps, and enjoy your time together!

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  9. I would just like to echo something that I think is important – when it comes time to say goodbye – give him a big hug and say good bye relatively quick. Cry when you get in the car! This is a super, exciting adventure for Jackson – he does not need to worry about you! You have done your job and he is going to do great! (And believe it or not – he will be back, again, and again, and again!)

    Congrats!!!!!

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  10. We are in the process of getting our daughter ready for college too. Some of the tips I have received are:
    ice cube tray-never would have thought of that!
    umbrella for cross campus walks on rainy days
    mattress topper (or egg crate as we called these back in the day)
    Poo pourri (this may be a girl thing, but my daughter is stressing about the bathroom situation)
    Britta water filter
    Plastic plates/bowls (.50 at target and cute colors!)
    Bluetooth speaker
    Keurig Coffee machine /pods (single cup version is like $60 at target)
    I’m super excited for my daughter, but know I’ll be a teary mess in a few weeks!
    Good Luck!

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  11. I’m sending my 2nd kid but first on campus college kid to school soon. I poll every college kid to ask what they used and didn’t use here are some responses
    – IKEA bags to help with move in day
    – command strips
    – post it notes
    – wrinkle release spray
    – a medicine bag with cold medicine, pain medicine, band aids, etc
    – power strips though a friends kid loves her power tower so I got one of each
    – extra phone chargers
    – a photo of family/pets
    – insurance card/vaccination card if he was/is vaccinated
    – safe

    Good luck!

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    • Yes to all of these! Ikea bags are great—cheap but sturdy and great for storing things in a dorm room like coats/other winter items that he won’t be using right away.

      Also, snacks. Load him up with his favorite snacks in bulk. I don’t know how many times in college I was too late or tired to get to the dining hall and was so thankful to have granola bars, cereal, trail mix, etc. to eat.

      If he wants, stay and help him get posters or pictures on the walls and other decorating done. I know once I had some touches of home, I felt so much more comfortable in my new space.

      Splurge and take him out to a nice lunch or dinner before you leave! It will be awhile until he has a non-cafeteria meal.

      Remember that he will be great! He has worked so hard to get here and it is going to be so rewarding for all of you.

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  12. I think Ann Walker said it best! One thing to add is to have a clear understanding of what the expectations are (both sides) for communication. Texting, calling, frequency, etc. Knowing his class schedule is helpful so you avoid contact during those days/times. Keep the drop off short and sweet! (Everyone is full of all kinds of emotions.) Good luck, and God bless!!!

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  13. This might be obvious and silly but don’t forget laundry detergent! I had never bought laundry detergent on my own before and it was very overwhelming at the time! Haha! Also as someone else said, plenty of snacks.
    If you’re going someplace that requires renting a car- book it now!
    Perhaps before you go, leave money so that he can take his roommate out to dinner- helps break the ice from living with a stranger!
    So excited for Jackson!!

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    • I love the dinner idea! My dad used to randomly put some money in my account when I was in college so that my roommate and I could go out to dinner. It was such a fun treat and a nice break from the dining hall food/Easy Mac.

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  14. I have sent two boys off to college in the last three years. One tip is buy a memory foam mattress topper. They come in xl long twin if needed. Open it a week before he leaves or longer if you have the space. Air it out, they stink! Then use packing saran wrap to roll it back up. We sent more than they needed. If he has access to car, bus, or friends..he can get what he needs. Amazon is also very helpful. We also used Instacart when boys got sick and needed things they couldn’t get/ or didn’t have.. Pack a medical box, it can be as complicated or simple. I think it is helpful to also do a basic directions to what medicines might interact. Alas…they have access to Google..so they will figure it out.
    I agree with setting some expectations as to frequency of talking, and how. It is an exciting time! I hope he has a great experience.

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  15. So fun!! What I recall from my own college move-in:
    – take new stuff out of packaging at home (don’t move it in the box it came in) – all that trash has to go somewhere when you unpack it and it gets overwhelming in the tiny room
    – Command hooks, power strips, and looooooong Ethernet cord. These will be sold out and/or overpriced on campus
    – try to avoid Target/Walmart run in college town if you can – it will be picked over and a madhouse
    – it is sweet to leave something he could share with his new roommate/suite mates – nothing crazy, maybe some homemade cookies or my mom left glass-bottled Cokes
    – write a sweet card – easier to leave it in writing than to bawl in the moment trying to say it out loud, plus I still love reading back on it all these years later! Also allows him to read it in private and not get publicly emotional with the goodbyes
    – every time I came home to visit, before I returned to college, my dad would give me a “twenty dollar handshake” with a folded up $20. I loved our little tradition (my mom didn’t find out for years) and of course extra cash is always welcome
    – make sure he has laundry stuff and knows how to do it (as well as an acceptable frequency for washing towels, sheets, etc)
    – weather appropriate clothing! Umbrella, rain jacket, winter coat, hat, gloves. I did not own any of these and didn’t realize I needed them until I was freezing and wet from walking across campus (yes, even in Texas). We are so used to driving everywhere!
    – medicine kit – Advil, bandaids, peroxide, thermometer, etc
    – a clear understanding of the financial arrangement, if you are helping him out at all – who pays for what/when/how much

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  16. My daughter went to school on Long Island and we live in Seattle – it was a challenge! I would agree with trying to bring as much from out of town because the college town stores get crazy!
    Some of the points I’ve already seen but would love to second:
    – SO many surge protectors/power strips and a super long phone charging cord. Having the ability to loft a bed gives so much needed space, especially if a fridge can fit underneath!
    – The bed hangers/organizers were very helpful for my daughter and conserving space.
    – Snacks and more snacks!
    -Both a laundry bag and a hamper were helpful.
    – A small vacuum….they may have ones to share or borrow but they’re often disgusting 🤮
    – Clorox wipes
    And … my neighbor is starting at LSU this year, too! Best of luck to Jackson!

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  17. If it’s feasible, pack everything up and spend the night at a hotel in his college town the night before. That way you’re well rested and ready to go in the morning and don’t have packing or a huge drive ahead of you. You can wake up, leave the hotel and move in! Move in day is so exciting so like others said, as hard as it is—don’t cry and leave when it’s time to leave. Let him experience all the “new” things with his roommate or the other freshmen. My freshman roommate and I still laugh at trying to find the cafeteria that very first night in our dorm 😂 and that was over 12 years ago! Practical tips would be-bring lots of water and little snacks to eat while moving in, and wear comfortable shoes!

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  18. My daughter’s must haves were
    1) a foam mattress topper, dorm mattresses are NOT comfortable
    2) command strips
    3) extension cords
    4) small fan
    5) mini fridge (her roommate brought a microwave)
    6) good desk lamp
    7) space saving hangers

    I made her a first aid/medicine box with everything she could possible need. We also asked her to sign a medical release power of attorney. She took a copy with her and we kept one at home-just in case

    I baked a batch of her favorite cookies and hid them in her room with a note and a starbucks gift card for her to find later

    Drop off day is chaotic and so bittersweet. We talked with her beforehand about the plan. We were going to help her move everything in, meet her roommate, take pics and then leave.

    I won’t lie, leaving was so hard. I wanted this to be a positive happy exciting memory for her, so I kept it together as best I could, shed a few tears hugging her goodbye and then cried my eyes out on the drive home.

    It really is amazing to see your kids turn into wonderful adults-good luck!

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  19. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A MATTRESS PROTECTOR BAG OR COVER IN CORRECT TWIN SIZE. Not talking about mattress pad but the plastic bag or plastic cover. The mattress biohazard status are questionable and with covid you want the pad on before the mattress cover. Make sure they know how to do laundry. Many kids don’t have a clue. Provide meds like Tylenol, Imodium, cold meds, Pepto, Afrin nasal spray, etc. They get sick often and suddenly and cant get to a store for meds. So make a box with meds. Then I am going to get real and give you advise that often parents avoid or freak out talking about because of religious or moral beliefs. This is more boys specific but can relate to both. Lets talk about sex(I provided condoms) with the talk about situations and values and issues with it. Also went into great deal on alcohol poisoning, drug use and situations with it. This happens a lot and frequently. Especially to kids whose parents who have been very strict or don’t communicate. I am in the medical profession and I can’t tell you how many calls I had at all hours because my kids found people passed out, vomiting, girls left alone in risky situations passed out, a medical emergency, friend with depression, a friend who was sexually assaulted. Find out the college policy on booze and drugs. You would be surprised to learn how terrible some are. One college had a zero tolerance policy for alcohol/drugs so if the kids needed help and had to go a hospital to save there life it was reported to the police and campus police and then kicked out school. Consequently kids took great risk with there lives in not getting medical help because of the reporting issue. This university was a religious school so find out instead of getting a call we all don’t want. Finally talk about sexual assault, it needs to be discussed and how to keep kids safe. Sorry if the topics are uncomfortable. I wish someone told me the REAL reality of all the issues only because I thought I was prepared for those topics but found out I needed much more discussion. ALL, yes all of the above things things will happen they just need to be prepared to make good decisions. If you think it won’t you will be sadly disappointed. This from a mom with good kids in a Christian home that went to some of the best universities. It is real life in college and they will get life learning moments. Most things will turn out well but talk to them it will make a difference. Let them know no matter what you are a phone call away to talk about anything without judgement.

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    • This is good advice. I was well prepared to handle myself / make my own good choices in college, but I was not prepared for some of the things I’d witness or situations I’d be put in (deciding if/when to call 911 for someone’s alcohol poisoning, knowing they’d be kicked out of school, was one of them…and this was in the Honors dorm). Alcohol, drugs, sexual consent, mental health, all of these things deserve a discussion even though Jackson knows how to handle himself. Sometimes our upbringing prepares us well for making our own choices, but that’s tougher when you find yourself in situations having to react to others’ choices and what the ‘right thing’ is (or when to call you for advice)

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  20. I graduated college 4 years ago now and I still think my biggest tip to bring is a small area rug. My room wasn’t carpeted at all but even if his is, the carpet has probably gotten pretty filthy. In my sophomore dorm the bottom of my feet would turn black if I walked on the carpet barefoot! A small rug to cover the center of the room makes the space feel a little more cozy and also much more comfortable for groups to hang out in the room and sit on the floor. Just something that made a big difference for my roommate and I! Good luck!

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  21. I am not a mother but when I got dropped off at college…Live in Hawaii, went to school in Wash. state…we did a lot of shopping in Seattle as it would have been difficult to bring everything I needed at home. The time came to go to the dorm and my mom and dad set me up in the dorm. I was going to walk them out to the car to say Good Bye but my mom said to stay in the room. I guess it would have been difficult for me to see them drive off and for them to see me standing alone as they drove off. It kind of worked. I think it lessened the pain on both sides.

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  22. I know the thing that really helped my mama heart when we dropped our oldest son off for his first year of college
    was to have a date planned when we would see him again , whether that was Parents Weekend or that we would come for a football game ,it really just helped to know we would see each other again at a certain date, and could say as we were leaving, “see you in 6 weeks for Parents Weekend”
    He has many fun times ahead and y’all do too…,great fun to see them doing life on their own. 😊

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  23. We are one year away from college drop off and I’m already weepy thinking about it! I’ll be thinking of you and your family over the next month.
    Thanks for posting this question! I am taking notes!

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  24. Narci-
    Normally I would just chalk this up to a persons character, but I am profoundly disappointed in you and I felt it needed to be said from my point of view. Yesterday I politely wrote a heartfelt comment about suggestions on the subject of the needs for college students. Apparently it did not meet your high moral standards to publish. That is truly sad, because it could have been helpful to a mom, maybe made a mom think of other issues to prepare there student for college with. Life is not all sanitized and perfect and all hearts and flowers. Sometimes it is conversations that include topics that are truthful but not comfortable because we are dealing with kids becoming adults. Nothing I said was offensive, nothing I said was controversial unless you only want a totally sanitized, perfect version of college life which does NOT exist at any college anywhere. So I wont be reading your blog ever again and I will pass on to others my experience in the judgement you will receive from you. You may want to rethink the blogs title, this place is not filled with the grace and love you promote. You may also want to rethink blogging because if your going to put yourself, family and life out there your not going to always get a perfect response that meets all your moral requirements. I would like to say I am surprised by this behavior, but I am not.

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    • Carly. I feel terrible. I don’t see it at all. Sometimes they get caught up in spam comments. I can only see the spam on my laptop so I’ll check there now. ❤️❤️

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    • Yes, Carly–it was in the spam folder of my comments. I am guessing the filter grabbed it because you did mention some hard (but very relevant, I agree) items. I did take a pic of it sitting in the spam in case you needed to see it (you can email me, if you want! I am a visual person, myself so I don’t mind at all!–dreffskids@gmail.com) The only time I don’t publish comments is when they are sensitive towards or aimed at someone other than myself (for instance my kids or other people I know in real life) just as a form of protection for them. Always feel free to speak your mind on here! I am open to it, and I truly appreciate your real talk and heartfelt message. XO Narci

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    • WOW Carly…jumped to some conclusions didn’t you? How about giving a little grace and love too? You gave very little time for the post to be posted before you very harshly (in my opinion) judged Narci and it seems you have some very preconceived opinions about her.
      As to your advice. Well done! It’s great advice. And yes, so hard to hear. My kids are 31 and 27 so it’s been a bit, but I wish I had had more direct conversations. I think as parents we think ‘I raised them right, that have great values, we are good’ but that doesn’t protect them from peer pressure, wanting to fit in and being accepted.
      So yes, we need to have the hard conversations.

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  25. I have boy/girl twins that we dropped off in two different directions last year. We dropped our daughter off first and both kids cried but for some reason I thought dropping off my son would be less tearful. Not true! So don’t be surprised if he cries-I totally didn’t expect that from my son given his personality. Try to say goodbye in a more private setting like the dorm room if the roommate isn’t there to prepare for that possibility. Two things my kids really loved were a tray to attach to the lofted bed where they could put their cell phone (with an extra long charging cord) and glasses at night and a clip on fan to also clip to their lofted bed. We got both on Amazon. Also have a plan in place for when you’re going to visit for the first time. This really helped with both my kids.

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