Sending Your (no Longer a) Child Off to College

Tips from local kids who have been there.


Parents, I know that some of you are standing in a pretty scary place. You’re looking off into the next four years and realizing that your teen is no longer a high schooler. He or she is going off to this scary but life-changing place we call college. While I’m not a parent, I don’t know exactly what you’re feeling, but I am a college student and I can tell you that your soon-to-be college student is just as apprehensive about this new adventure as you.

Having packed up the family SUV more than once, I thought it might help if I detailed the obvious essentials to pack, random items your son or daughter may forget, and what you should make sure stays home.

Don’t forget the basics…

Bedding, toiletries, school supplies, clothes, etc. There are several “college packing lists” online that you can print out and check off as you pack. Your college or university may also provide you with lists via their residential life departments. Utilize these! They may seem silly, but they will be more helpful than you expect.

Throw in some odds and ends! Katie Tampke, a Leawood resident and an incoming sophomore at the University of Kansas, wishes she would have packed healthy snacks, dish soap, a reusable water bottle, and a lamp to improve the lighting in her dorm room. Tampke was also not expecting to need crafting supplies. Stephanie Hampel, a Prairie Village resident and an incoming sophomore at the University of Portland, never thought she would need a climbing harness and climbing shoes, but she soon realized that going to school in Oregon meant there are so many new outdoor activities available to her. She said that by the end of her freshmen year, she had a newfound passion for rock climbing. Do some research about recreational activities around your new school. You could discover a great new hobby!

Parents, make sure some things stay home with you…

• Make copies of your student’s driver’s license, credit/debit cards, insurance cards, passport, checking account information, etc. Keep copies of these at home in case of emergencies while your student is at college.

• Write down bar codes and numbers from items like laptops, printers, gaming systems, cameras, etc. In case of theft, it is important to have these numbers for insurance and replacements.

• Keep your student’s extensive collection of high school t-shirts at home. He or she will acquire enough t-shirts between freshmen orientation and senior commencement to clothe them for months without doing laundry (*but please teach them how to do laundry!).


Students, before you put that last box in your car and pull out of the driveway, check out my ten tips to surviving your freshmen year. Having just finished my sophomore year, I would say I’ve gotten pretty good at “college-ing,” as my friends like to say.

• Don’t shy away from calling or texting home.

• Bring at least one basketball or football jersey and a business professional outfit. You never know when a meeting will be “jersey themed” or when you need to suit up for an interview or class presentation.

• Leave your door open from time to time. Meet new people. Branch out. Don’t be afraid to walk up to a classmate and introduce yourself. He or she could be your future best friend.

• Sit in the first two rows of class. You will stay awake, be less distracted and retain more, hopefully keeping those grades up.

• Always have your resume ready to print at a moment’s notice.

• Take advantage of free food and free t-shirts.

• Check your email at least three times a day.

• Introduce yourself to all of your professors and advisers within the first two weeks of classes.

• You’ll be added to countless “GroupMe” messages. Don’t mute them. You could be missing out on some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

• Take pride in your college or university. Don’t forget the feeling you had when you first toured your school and fell in love with it because that love will only grow deeper with every passing day you spend as a student there.


If you’re a little apprehensive about moving to college, just remember that moving back home next summer will be even harder.

Carrie Hudson is a Johnson County resident and a student at Oklahoma State University.