It’s getting to be that time of year….nervous parents packing off equally nervous children to college for the first time. I’m far from an expert, but I have been through it twice, so here are some things to know before move-in day.

1. It’s going to be emotional. No matter how prepared you think you and your child are, saying good bye after cramming all their worldly possessions (minus the ones they forgot), is hard. For some reason, leaving my daughter at Seton Hall was harder that leaving my son at Montclair State. I think he was more eager to get out from beneath his parents’ wings. By the way, for added emotion, download the song “Letting Go” by Suzy Boggus. It makes my wife cry every time.

2. No matter how many containers you fill, your child will have forgotten something. The urgency of this situation is directly correlated to how close the parents live to campus.

3. Try to instill good eating habits or at least giving them some basics about nutrition so they don’t just go to the vending machines and/or taco bar for every meal. There’s a very good chance they will gain weight.

4. There’s a very strong urge for your child to screw around the first semester as they enjoy the freedom to come and go at will, and there’s almost always a party somewhere. Make sure they know that subsequent tuition checks are dependent on how well they do in that first semester.

5. Teach them to back up all of their important files. ‘nuff said.

6. Encourage them to join something. Finding a group or club that matches your interests is the best short cut to making friends, which makes the campus seem much more welcoming.

7. Related to #6, tell them they should try new things! College isn’t just about being trained for a job, it’s about the process of becoming who you are going to be and the best way to accelerate that is by doing things you’ve never done before. Whether it’s taking a class that isn’t in your major or just exploring the surrounding town off campus, get out of your comfort zone.

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