6 Tips for Parents Anticipating Their Child’s First College Move-In Day

by Naomi Mannino

The day you leave your student at college can be quite bittersweet. While you are proud of your their personal and academic accomplishments—and excited to see them venture forth into the next chapter of life—you are also sad to drive back home without them. It’s an emotional time!

With just a little forethought (and commitment) you can make college move-in day a memory you will all treasure forever. If you’re anticipating the big day, here are six useful tips to keep you organized and on track.

1. Make Sure You Have the Information You Need

Moving your student into college is one of those special life experiences: You never know how it’s going to be until you go through it yourself.

“Thinking about the practical aspects of college move-in day, such as where to park and unload, and how you will get all those boxes up four flights of stairs and into the dorm room, can be overwhelming; but we do a lot here at Azusa Pacific University to make it easier,” says Stacie Champine, APU’s director of Orientation and Transitions.

Champine advises families download the APU Events app (available for iPhone and Android) and become familiar with it before move-in day. This way, you will have access to the most up-to-date schedules and information for both students and families right in the palm of your hand.

2. Look for Student Leaders

When you arrive on campus to move in, you won’t be left to your own devices. There will be plenty of resources available to help.

For instance, when you pull up to unload, look for the student leaders wearing the black “I ♥ APU” shirts. They will show you where to park and help you unload. These same student leaders are also available to help you carry items up to dorm rooms so the process is more streamlined, Champine notes.

3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Given the emotional and stressful nature of this transitional period, it can be easy to get caught up in the small stuff. But it’s important to relax and enjoy the process.

“Try not to get overwhelmed about forgetting something,” Champine advises. “There is plenty of time between the 8:30 a.m. move-in starting time on Friday and the first official welcome activity for students and families at 7 p.m. to run any necessary errands.” She adds that there are also pockets of time in between activities throughout Welcome Weekend to explore the full-service surrounding community.

4. Write a Letter to Your Child

Whether your student is going to college five minutes away, several states away, or in another country, families will definitely be in for an adjustment. “While there is so much hope and potential in the day, families are often grieving for childhood years gone by,” Champine says. “So we have a lot of specialized activities to strengthen your bond as you get ready for this big change.”

On Friday night of move-in weekend, APU’s traditional Candela event welcomes students and families with a meaningful ceremony. That same evening, the university’s president holds a parents-only Visit with the President event. During this time, families have the opportunity to write a note or letter of encouragement to their student.

Champine says, “We save these letters and put them in their student mailboxes halfway through the semester; this can be very meaningful to the students who receive one.”

5. Stay for the Weekend

When you drop your student off at college, there’s no reason to rush off. Consider immersing yourself in the atmosphere and getting a feel for your child’s new home away from home. When you’re miles away, you’ll find comfort in knowing your student is safe and comfortable.

At APU, there are many fun activities scheduled for students to get to know each other. Likewise, parents are encouraged to stay the whole weekend and share in the excitement. Afterward, you will thank yourself for having familiarized yourself with your child’s new community.

6. Find Your Special Spot

When students are in school, it can be useful to have somewhere to go or something to hold that reminds them of home. With this in mind, Champine describes another beautiful ritual provided for families and students of APU.

“During the final Sunday worship service with the president, families and students are invited to create a special altar, or prayer circle, using a piece of chalk, so they have a physical space on campus to remember their family,” she notes. “When students want to feel closer to their families, they can visit that special spot they declared theirs, and parents and families can visit that spot in their minds, no matter how far away they are.”

“When families come to campus, and even at graduation, they can all stand together on that spot and recall the transformation that has happened during those college years at APU,” adds Champine. “Students come back years later to visit their spot. This makes for a very special and memorable college move-in weekend.”

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