Move-In Day
Move-In Day (Photo credit: kcolwell)

Experienced parents share their words of wisdom.

Sending your kids off to college, whether they’re living on campus or commuting from home, is a lot like the day you left them at kindergarten.

You may be wondering if this is one of those times you should say something profound to your son or daughter. I think it is. So I asked friends and family to share what they said to their kids on this special day. Here are their words of advice. Feel free to share any and all with your own freshman.

We’ll start with what I said to each of my kids, which are the same words my dad said to me: “You’re 18 years old. We’ve taught you everything we can. Now it’s up to you to decide what to do with it.” The words, though they sounded scary, were Dad’s (and my) way of saying, “We trust you and believe in you.” After I said them, I hugged my child and cried.

The practical: “You know that little voice in your head that tells you when something feels right, or something doesn’t feel right?  Trust it.”

“I told each of my kids that a roommate is just that, someone with whom you room. If you become good, or even great friends, that’s a bonus, but roommates must first and foremost be considerate of one another.”

“Check your pockets before you wash your pants with the cell phone in them. Getting insurance [on the phone] is a good idea, too.”

The motivational: “You can achieve anything you want to—just start by visualizing it and heading toward it.”

“I told both my daughter and my son that college was another stepping stone in life, do the best you can, enjoy it. Nothing is written in stone. If for some reason it does not work out, there are always other schools as well as other options. Health and happiness are the priorities in life.”

The basics on safety: “When you go out, do not separate from your friends. Leave with the friends you came with.”

“Be safe; never walk alone on campus.”

“Always check the backseat of your car before you get in it. “

“Always walk with your car key or dorm key out and ready in case you need to use it for protection.”

The most important thing: “Remember that we love you!”

“Have fun, be good.  Remember, you can always call home if you need help.”

“[We told our daughter] no matter what, we would always be there for her any time of the day or night when she needed us, and that we were so proud of her.”

“This is a new chapter in your life and we know you will continue to make us proud. However, if God forbid anything ever happens, we want you to know you can call us at any time day or night. Never ever be afraid to call us for anything. We will always be there for you.”

And in a letter to his daughter, edited here for space, a friend of mine wrote: “If I tried to tell you all the things I want to today, I’d have to see the impatience on your face, and I’m afraid I would take it personally, although I know it’s not about me. I am grateful that I can use the electronic option and give you these words to read on your own. So, here are words of advice from the old man:

  • You know that really friendly person you were being yesterday? I hope that you cultivate the habit of being that person every day. Be the person who makes other people happy to have met you. Try to live without your game face, or try to wear a face that says, ‘I’m totally prepared to like you, whoever you are.’
  • I don’t know if you would have taken the time to read the ‘Resnet’ regulations before you launched Limewire. Try to read instructions, rules, regulations, requirements… Part of showing up for life is being the person who knows what’s coming. Your mom and I have said, almost all our married lives, that bad luck is what happens to people who haven’t made plans. Be a lucky person. Try every day to give yourself the gift of the future. Plan ahead.
  • This morning your mom and I walked down a huge hill to the waterfront. It’s really pretty here and we had coffee and had to decide how to get back to the hotel. We could take a bus or a shuttle, but we decided to walk back uphill. After all, it was only difficult. Try to embrace what’s harder, because it offers a much bigger reward. This is hard advice for me to give, because I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be.
  • Don’t look at it or make the call or go see it tomorrow. Do it today. Do it now. Your life is what is happening right now.
  • Take the fullest advantage of the college experience. Go hear those lectures, and see those shows. Shower in the fitness center. Get up for your classes. Do the reading. Get the writing and studying assistance offered if you need to, and don’t wait to ask for help. Earn the result that proves to you that you can indeed do anything you set your mind to.
  • Don’t be too harsh on yourself, but don’t let yourself off easy. Try to find that tone that says, ‘Come on, baby girl. You can do it. Just a little bit more.’”

Please feel free to share your own advice in the comments section below.