This Thanksgiving, my daughter came home for the first time since she left for her freshman year. I was so glad to have a lot of time with her and so happy that she absolutely loves her college—even though it wasn’t her first choice.
I couldn’t help thinking just how different things were just about a year ago, when the news wasn’t nearly as good for her on the college front.
With snow falling this week in Boston, I couldn’t help but think of a recent article I read that describes a new term for us well-meaning, overly involved parents of college students: “snowplow parents.”
(Apparently being a helicopter parent isn’t enough?)
After moving off campus, my son quickly got tired of begging for rides to do his laundry and grocery shopping. (Riding his bike in 6 inches of snow got a little old as well.)
So, we recently sold him one of our family’s cars. And while I received a lovely road trip out of the transaction, I also got to endure something much less enjoyable: the tedious process of buying another used car.
Tomorrow, I start a road trip to the Midwest with my son. As much as I love him, the thought of being held captive in a car all weekend, subjected to rap music for hours, isn’t really what I want to do with my time. (Though I’m sure the fall leaves will be lovely …)
However, we won’t be the only two people in the car. I’m also bringing along Dr. Meg Jay (at least, in spirit), author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How To Make The Most Of Them Now. So, let the guilt trip—I mean, road trip!—begin.
As a mom, a lot about the college process keeps me awake at 2 a.m. The angst about how to pay for it is huge. Then, I worry that my kids will go completely wild and learn nothing at school (as I scramble to pay for it).
But if I had to decide what worries me most, it is the stress-inducing admissions process. Applying to college is scary—for applicants and their parents.
I was once an out-of-stater at the University of Colorado. Back then, out-of-state tuition was less than $10,000 per year—or about one-third of what it costs now.
Even though college was much cheaper then, I always felt a little guilty for not taking a year off in the middle to establish residency for tuition purposes. Some of my friends did this, because their parents weren’t able to help with tuition.
Have you thought about trying to qualify for in-state tuition? Doing so could save you and your parents some significant money. However, this is not an easy process …
It’s been 2 weeks since I settled my daughter in for her freshman year of college. The shopping, unpacking, organizing, and shopping (again) are mercifully behind us—if for no other reason than we ran out of time and her room is stuffed to the ceiling!
Now, the real adjustment begins for all of us. For my daughter, school assignments replace the excitement of freshman orientation. For hovercraft parents like me, it’s getting used to not talking to our children every single day. With this new free time, I’ve thought about all that’s changed over the past 2 weeks—and all that we’ll still need to adjust in the future.
Today is not just any day. This is the day my daughter leaves home for her freshman year of college. I wake up feeling empty already—and yet, she is still blissfully asleep in her bed.
Later this evening, the two of us will be wedged in a plane, with four suitcases and two carry-ons. (Don’t get me started on luggage fees and weighing a monster suitcase on the bathroom scale.) I just really hope her dorm room is larger than I think it’s going to be …
As a mom, I love the idea of my kids experiencing life and traveling—especially if they do it while being paid. Working in a resort town can let you do all that.
Finding an apartment, furnishing it, and feeding yourself can make a summer job like that costly. But, with a little planning this fall, you could cut those costs and spend next summer in your paradise—whether you’re an ocean person or someone who prays for snow.
Shopping for a soon-to-be-college-freshman is a quite a bit different from the back-to-school shopping my kids and I did during the high school years. Gone are the days of the quick trip to Staples for 99 cent folders and a couple of spiral notebooks.
Now, I’m off to Bed Bath & Beyond for some major spending—and that’s just to get started.