Helping your kids pack up for college is a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, there is the excitement in seeing them grow up. On the other, letting your children leave the house to live elsewhere is sad.
Before getting there, however, you can make the most of your time with them. Bond with them by accompanying them on the dorm hunt!
When checking out dorms, bring a checklist of negotiables and non-negotiables with you. Priorities and needs vary for everyone, but this is a guide on what to look out for in your search.
1. Proximity to University, Stores, and Restaurants
Busy college students need to live somewhere they have comfortable access to school buildings, the grocery, restaurants, drugstores, and bookstores. Look for a place that will require minimal commuting to and from the dorm.
If your child is bringing a car, proximity will not be as big a concern. Instead, check on the area’s traffic and how manageable regular travel via vehicle will be once the semester begins.
2. Clean bathrooms
Be particular about this because once you settle on a dorm, you can change little about the bathroom. Many dorms for university students have communal bathrooms. These are usual, so check how well-maintained the facilities are.
Aside from functional sinks, showers, and toilets, check how well-built the structures are. Especially in communal toilets, make sure the toilet cubicle partitions and bathroom stalls are sufficient and sturdy. A shared bathroom shouldn’t compromise privacy.
Prepare your own bathroom essentials in a communal setup. This will keep your items hygienic and accounted for.
3. Roommates or No Roommates?
This will be based on your child’s preference and your budget. Consult with them on the living arrangements they will be comfortable with and check these against how much you can shell out for their dorm expenses. Do they prefer being alone, or will they want to be around other people?
Should you decide to get roommates, your child may be safer and more comfortable with people they are familiar with. Do you or your child know students who may need a dorm? Consider inviting them to go with your child.
4. Study and Storage Space
Dorms are usually not the most spacious of places. Verify if the apartment or room has enough space for a desk and shelves and storage to keep readings, books, and other school supplies.
A desk area conducive to learning is essential because much of your child’s studying will happen there. Know if the dorm is in a loud neighborhood or if the room shuts out noise well.
A closet is a must for clothes, beddings, and belongings. There are also ways to work around a small space, such as hanging organizers and desk bins to maximize what you have.
5. Kitchen Area
Some dorms have dedicated kitchen areas in their rooms. Others have shared kitchens. See if it has a stove, microwave, and water heater. You may have to bring some kitchen supplies, such as pots and pans, yourself.
Find out also if the dorm has a cafeteria inside or at least a walking distance from it. This will be helpful whenever they are in a rush or eating with friends.
6. Laundry Room
Living in the dorm for most of their time in the university will also mean not bringing laundry home for cleaning. Having a laundry facility in the dorm building instead of outside will make it easier to have clothes washed, instead of lugging around a bag of clothes to another building entirely to do laundry.
7. Other Amenities
Speak with your child to see what other amenities they may need and what they can bring to the dorm. For example, they can bring an iron and ironing board if there are none. If they don’t have a fridge, maybe have a mini fridge to keep any leftovers and perishable food items.
Communication Is Key
Often, having kids leave for university is emotionally harder on us parents. It’s okay to miss them, but we shouldn’t cage them in and keep them from going on this new adventure.
Technology has made it possible to keep in touch with your children! Chat with them over a messaging app and call when you miss them. But leave them space, too, to enjoy life as a freshman.
Give yourself time to get used to the new arrangement. At the same time, trust that they are learning to spread their wings.