The last few weeks of spring semester on college campuses are hectic. Your student may drop off the radar while wrapping up classes/taking finals, so when you do make contact it’s important to touch on the most important things.
Often students don’t have much time between their last final exam and when they need to move out of the residence hall. Organization is key! Here are some details they don’t want to forget, and ways for parents to help.
Buttoning up the school year
Send one last care package, or pop some cash or a gift card in the mail with a handwritten note of encouragement.
Finals is a good time for your student to back up their computer (no one wants to lose a term paper!).
Remind your student that it’s essential to read and respond to all emails from the school about end-of-year requirements (returning library materials, paying outstanding fees, etc.).
If they're in a performance or show at the end of the semester that you can’t attend in person, send flowers or a card to wish them well.
Preparing for move-out
Does your student have a plan for storing belongings over the summer? Next year’s dorm or Greek house may have a storage area but space will be limited (and often large items like bikes and mini-fridges are not accepted). Some tips:
There’s no point moving or storing stuff you don’t need, so encourage your student to start thinking early about what to keep and what to get rid of. They can approach belongings one category at a time over the course of a week or two: books, papers, clothing and gear, room furnishings, cleaning supplies/toiletries, and so on.
They should make a pile of the things they want over the summer and see if it will fit in their suitcases (if they're flying) or in the family car. Do they need to ship some boxes? Advise them not to wait until the last minute to do this.
Begin the process of selling, donating, recycling and tossing unwanted items early. There should be opportunities on campus — students are pros at “freecycling” — or your student can find a nearby donation center. (Grocery store parking lots may have donation receptacles; try also local charities/religious organizations and thrift stores.) Another student might really want that microwave or mini-fridge!
If they have questions about move-out timing and expectations, they can ask their RA. Dorm rooms should be left clean with furniture returned to its original location.
College towns typically have companies that specialize in storage for college students. Many offer door-to-door spring pick-up and fall delivery. This is going to be more expensive than self-storage. If a storage facility is the answer, you can offer to help research options online.
Can your student save money by sharing a unit with a friend?
Book early to get the size unit you need.
Your homeowners’ insurance policy should extend to cover stored property — double check.
Your student should hunt up some free boxes (not too large) or buy plastic storage bins. Label boxes/containers and create a master list (doesn’t have to be too detailed).
Everything going into storage should be clean (bedding, etc.), including all appliances (fridge, microwave, coffee maker). They should never store food.
Buy a lock.
For students transitioning from dorm to off-campus housing over the summer:
Depending on the lease, students moving from residence halls to off-campus apartments may need to arrange for temporary storage of their items.
Students with ample summer storage space can use the last weeks of school as an opportunity to inherit furniture or appliances from graduating seniors.
If you'll be on hand to help at move-out:
Wear comfy clothes and shoes, and be prepared for dirt and disorganization. Trash bags (big black heavy-duty ones and the smaller 13-gallon white ones) come in handy for, of course, trash but also for transporting items: soft, light things can go in the big bags and clothes on hangers can be bundled into the smaller bags. Boxes, a Sharpie marker, and packing tape will come in handy as will snacks, water, and patience.
Back at home, if you've been using their room for your own storage, shuffle things down to the basement or hold that yard sale before they arrive!
Diane Schwemm is a writer and Managing Editor at CollegiateParent. She and her husband are parents of a college student and two recent graduates. In her off hours, she likes to read, hike and garden and, thanks to the influence of her family, appreciates ballet and basketball equally.
When your college student starts their first semester, it’s not just a big deal for them. It’s a big deal for you, too. Get the First Semester Guide for College Parents now!