New Students

Sophomores and Parents Tell All About Leaving for College

Ursinus College boasts a close-knit community where 96% of students live on campus. We asked our rising sophomores—and their parents—to reflect on their move-in experiences last year and share tips with our incoming first-year students and their families as they make the transition to college life. 

What advice would you give to families who have a student leaving for college soon?

The Garber family (L to R: Lori, Stone, Noah and Andrew) on Move-in Day on August 25, 2016.The Garber family (L to R: Lori, Stone, Noah and Andrew) on Move-in Day on August 25, 2016.

WHAT THE PARENTS SAY

“Spend as much time with them as you can,” says Lori Garber, whose son Noah, now a tour guide in our admission office, may have shown you around campus when you visited Ursinus. “We also tried to give [Noah and his brother] time alone together since they are close and will be apart for a few weeks at a time.”

Lori also recommends that parents look at the fall schedule to determine visit opportunities. The drop-off at college becomes easier when you and your student realize you will see each other more often than you think, during scheduled breaks and events like parents weekend. “Plus, winter break is a month long,” says Lori. “It helps to remember that too!”

WHAT THE STUDENTS SAY

“Students leaving for college should be cognizant of the fact they are now on their own,” says Noah Garber ’20. No one will keep you on track with academic work and other important tasks, “so it is always important to keep in mind the motto ‘work now, play later.’” 

“Make sure to spend as much time with your friends and family as possible,” says Jordan Orange ’20, who is an admission tour guide and a fellow in the Melrose Center for Global Civic Engagement.   

What should parents and students keep in mind during the time leading up to move-in day? Any words of wisdom regarding emotions they should expect or activities they should plan?

<p>Jordan Orange ’20 (2<sup>nd</sup> from left) with her family: (L to R) Mary Felder, Tyra Orange and Warren Orange.</p>

Jordan Orange ’20 (2nd from left) with her family: (L to R) Mary Felder, Tyra Orange and Warren Orange.

WHAT THE PARENTS SAY

“If possible, try to plan a last pre-college family trip or family day,” says Tyra Orange. “Your children won’t necessarily say it, but they are going to miss you as much as you will miss them. Having some undivided attention helps everyone to enjoy each other before you have to part ways. Emotions run high … try to be patient with them, as well as yourself. It’s a difficult transition for all involved.” 

“There will be mixed emotions, but the best thing is to stay calm and in control,” says Ray Stitt, who is a Tech Support technician at Ursinus, as well as a safety office and adviser to UC EMS (Emergency Medical Service). “Let your student know you are still a text, phone call or email away. Be supportive, but not smothering.” 

WHAT THE STUDENTS SAY

“Leading up to move-in day, students tend to be very excited and ready to get out of the house to start the next chapter in their lives,” says Noah. “To parents, while they are happy for the student, may be going through a little bit of a different experience … My advice to the student would be to understand what your parents are going through, but always show them that you are excited and assure them that the whole process is going to be great. They will share in your excitement the more you share your experiences.”

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in the time leading up to your child’s departure for college?

<p>Ray Stitt (back row) with (L to R) Emily Hart, Olivia Stitt, Michael Hart and Diana Stitt.</p>

Ray Stitt (back row) with (L to R) Emily Hart, Olivia Stitt, Michael Hart and Diana Stitt.

WHAT THE PARENTS SAY

“I would have started planning the party earlier,” jokes Ray (who adds that the whole experience was fun, but tiring).  

“We spent a lot of time together and that meant a lot to all of us,” says Lori. “I wish I had not been as anxious though. It would have made my summer easier.” 

What is the best way to stay in touch once the semester gets going? What are your thoughts on the frequency of touching base?

<p>Noah Garber ’20 (right) with brother Stone (left) and roommate Sashi (center).</p>

Noah Garber ’20 (right) with brother Stone (left) and roommate Sashi (center).

WHAT THE STUDENTS SAY

“Parents are more inclined to want to talk or text more frequently,” says Noah. “Although this may be annoying, understand that it is hard for them. My advice to students is to update your parents them with random things that happen in your day every so often. My advice to parents is to not be overbearing. Check in on them every few days or so. They are having this new experience and if they feel like they are always in contact with their parents, it may take away from their feeling of independence.” 

“I think that when you first go away, your parents will try to call you almost every day,” says Jordan. At first, you have to be sensitive. After a month, you can let them know your schedule, and tell them good times to call you. That way you can have a schedule and continue to have a great relationship with your family.”  

WHAT THE PARENTS SAY

“We text and call,” says Lori. “I don’t think there is a set frequency to be in touch. It’s tough because you’re used to seeing your child every day. We tried to be respectful and allow him to make his way at Ursinus. He did a great job. Even though we missed him terribly, we good a lot of comfort and joy in seeing our son happy, thriving, and very productive during his first year.”  

Ray and his wife have different approaches. “I am a once-a-month kind of guy,” he says. “If I don’t hear anything [for a while], then I’ll send a text or call. My wife is more of an every-other-day kind of person.”

“I found that my daughter would check in approximately every other day at the beginning,” says Tyra. “She was learning to navigate her new environment and spending time with new friends. Once she got settled, she would check once per day via email, text or phone. My only requirement was a brief video chat once a week. I needed to see her in order to feel confident she was ok.”  

What is your advice on packing? Is there anything you forgot?

<p>Jordan Orange ’20 (left) with mom, Tyra Orange.</p>

Jordan Orange ’20 (left) with mom, Tyra Orange.

WHAT THE STUDENTS SAY

“I think I brought way too many shoes and clothes,” says Jordan. “You will have a very miserable move-out day if you try to take everything you own to school.” (Though mom Tyra says they did forget a desk mirror.) 

WHAT THE PARENTS SAY

“You always pack too much,” says Lori. “Remember you can use Amazon Prime or another shipping method if your child needs anything.”

“We forgot a trash can and a cable to run from the TV to the wall,” says Ray, who suggests that parents and students both make lists of what they think is needed, and then compare lists. If your child is stressing about a forgotten item, be reassuring that “everything will be alright,” he says, “and that the sun will come up tomorrow.” (Plus, there are plenty of shopping options in the area.) 

View Ursinus’s suggested packing list at https://www.ursinus.edu/offices/residence-life/first-year-living/faq