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Countdown to college: Returning home after the big drop-off

By Lee Shulman Bierer, Tribune Content Agency on

Published in Education News

Parents of budding college freshmen are feeling pride and angst these days - very likely more angst than pride, as families drop off their students for a definitively nontraditional college experience.

How many recent Facebook posts have you seen where parents shared their mixed emotions as they dropped their children off at college for the first time? Lots. And why not? Heading off to college is an American milestone that deserves to be celebrated. Parents have been responsible for their children for 18 years, and now, we believe, our bundles of joy are ready to face the world.

There are all kinds of support systems in place at colleges to help students acclimate. Schools have freshmen orientation, resident advisers and a slew of student services available. But what about the parents? After that long drive home, after that sweat-inducing move-in, how do parents manage?

Understandably, parents' reactions are all over the map. In some cases there's relief, because everyone has been counting down the days to move-in, and it has finally arrived. In many cases, the drop-off is just the first step in the letting-go process. It's especially poignant when it's the last drop-off and parents are heading home to an empty nest.

Below are the postings from a friend, a mom of twin boys, from when she was dropping off her first son:

"Never before have I been so proud, sad, nervous and hopeful. Feeling emotional.


"This is only the first of the two! The waterworks are difficult to control now. Can't imagine next Saturday! Ugh!!!! This really is one of the toughest parts of parenting thus far ... letting go. Intellectually I know and am thrilled with the school choices they have made and confident that they will succeed, but I really like my kids. They are entertaining, bright kids whose company I truly enjoy. I will miss them tremendously."

Comments from friends:

"Nooooo. Cannot. Believe. It!"

"You have so much to be proud of! I think you are a wonderful mother!"


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