Tips for parents with kids going out of state for college

tips for parents with kids going out of state for college

It is that time of year when high school seniors make their final decision about which college they plan to commit to. Many kids plan to commit to an out of state school, which you will see me refer to as “OOS.” When your child decides to attend an OOS school, the anxiety you feel as a parent may increase tenfold. Not only is your child leaving home to go to college, they are crossing state lines! In fact, they could be going all the way across the country from the west coast to the east coast, or vise versa. That is a huge move and life change!

There are many reasons a student decides to go to an OOS school. One of the big reasons is the school has a strong reputation in your child’s intended major. This is the reason my daughter ended up out of state. The major she chose was sparse in California, so she found an amazing program out of state, and off she went to the opposite coast!

This is an exciting time for a student who is going off to college. On the other hand, as the parent, you might be hiding from your child how nervous and anxious this whole process is making you feel. After all, your baby is crossing state lines, and you will need to hop on a plane to visit them! Yikes!

As a parent with a child who attends college OOS, let me tell you, it gets easier. The summer before she left for school I was anxious and had a fear of the unknown. We made sure she was well-prepared and had everything she would need for the school year in both her suitcases and the boxes we shipped to her from home. The big thing is making sure your child has what they need, such as bedsheets, laundry detergent, school supplies, and clothing for various types of weather. While the school will provide a packing list, there are always more items you will need to add depending on your child, the climate, and how far away they will be from home.

My husband flew with my daughter to check her into the dorms before school started. When you are coming from out of state, it is a good idea to check into the dorms as early as possible. This allows you time to shop for items you couldn’t ship, or forgot to pack. This also allows you the chance to make sure your child adapts to the new time zone, and is able to get familiar with their surroundings at the new school. We were able to check our daughter in five days early, which was perfect for helping her get settled in her dorm room.

The whole time my husband was with my daughter, getting her settled at school, I was anxious and nervous. My baby was a plane ride away, out of state! Aaaaah! This is a normal feeling that many share when their child goes OOS for school. If your child is going OOS, you may already feel this apprehension. Thankfully there are ways to overcome the anxious and nervous feelings you may be having about your child going OOS for school.

Here are a few tips to calm your nerves. Also, keep in mind, you feel a thousand times better after the first semester is complete, and you get accustomed to your child flying home alone, and being in a different time zone. As they say, time heals!

  • Get a copy of your child’s class schedule. If they are in a different time zone, this will help you know when it is safe to contact them.
  • Don’t contact your child all day, everyday. Let them spread their wings. Chances are, your child will reach out to you with questions, or to ask you to buy something, or send money. If you miss your child and want to chat, try to text them in the evening when they are back in their dorm room. The daily schedule of a college student is busy, and you don’t want to interrupt them unless you have an emergency.
  • Send care packages. Is there are holiday they won’t be home for such as Valentine’s Day or St Pat’s Day? Send a small box with holiday themed chocolates or items to give your child a little bit of love from home. This will also make you feel good.
  • Schedule a facetime or zoom. Technology nowadays allows for us to see each other’s faces when we chat with them, might as well take advantage of it! A weekly call with your student and family members can keep you close and connected, and help calm your anxiety about your student being OOS.
  • Visit your child during Parents Weekend. I know there are differing opinions about attending Parents Weekend, but I feel like it is a great time to visit your child. The school has events planned for parents and you can connect with your child’s school. This helps to make the school feel closer to home, and gives you an excuse to visit your child.
  • Teach your child to fly on their own before they leave for school. You don’t want your child panicking at the airport because all of their liquids are getting confiscated at TSA. Fly with your child before they leave for college and teach them the rules of going through TSA, what they can put in their suitcase, and what is acceptable for the carry-on. Also make sure you help your child book flights with longer layovers. If your child has a 45 min layover and there is a delay in the first flight, this will cause both of you anxiety. Give your child a long layover so they can fly home, or back to school, in a relaxed state.
  • Driving: You might be wondering about your child’s driver’s license or insurance, there are different options, but I will let you know what we did. Your child can keep their license from home. Unless they plan to move to the new state full-time, and bring their car, they don’t need to switch the state in which they are licensed to drive. Also, if the car is staying home, call your insurance. Ours let’s us toggle our daughter off the insurance while she is away at school, and then toggle her back on when she is home for vacation. This is a money saver! Love that!
  • Connect with other out of state parents from home, and from your child’s new school. There are Facebook groups for parents, as well as regional parents. This helps you ask questions, and learn from, local parents with kids at the same college as your child. It is a great way to connect and ease your nerves!

While having a child go OOS for school can be nerve-wracking, it is a manageable situation that can be a great experience for your child. As long as you stay organized and connected to your child, it will feel like they are down the street.

Travel items your child might need:

Let me know if you have any tips to add!

Thanks for stopping by!

Congrats to your child!