There are so many ways to communicate with your college student these days that it can be overwhelming. Do you call, text, instant message, write on her facebook wall, skype, video conference, or twitter? Technology today has allowed us to stay in touch with our students on a daily, or sometimes hourly basis. A topic of a future post will be some of the thinking about the wisdom of staying too closely in touch, but this post isn’t about any of the technical wonders of communication. It is about the old fashioned technology of the college mailbox.
Even with the array of technological advances for communication, most students are still assigned a college mailbox when they arrive at college. Your student’s mailbox may be located in his residence hall, or may be located in a student center or college union. One of the rituals of college life is still going to check that mailbox, if not daily, at least occasionally. It is a great way to send a message to your college student in addition to whatever other means you usually use.
Yes, e-mail is faster than mailing a note or a card, and texting and tweeting are almost immediate, but there is still nothing like the feeling of opening the mailbox and finding something there. And e-mail isn’t the same as a personally handwritten note. Brighten up your student’s day by using the mailbox occasionally. You might even send care packages. All students love to receive packages. But even if sending a package isn’t possible, you can use the mailbox to stay in touch.
Your student will appreciate a thoughtful note or card. As nice as e-mails are, they aren’t usually posted on dorm room bulletin boards. You might be surprised, if you visit your student’s room, to see that silly card you sent posted on the bulletin board, or sitting prominently on her desk. It is meaningful. Holiday cards are nice – Valentine’s Day, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day – but consider a congratulations card for some campus accomplishment or just a “thinking of you” or a “chin up” card.
If you do send a card or note, enclose family pictures, articles from the local newspaper, coupons or giftcards for local stores or on-line purchases, letters or drawings from siblings, anything that will remind your student of home. Send small items often rather than a lot of things all at once. Have fun being creative. Once you start, you’ll think of new ideas all of the time.
You might also consider filling your student’s mailbox by sending a subscription to the local paper, or a favorite magazine, or a church or local organization newsletter. Also, share your student’s mailbox and address liberally with others who might drop a note. Give it to grandparents, relatives, friends, neighbors.
Technology has opened many new doors of communication for us, but sometimes, reaching out in the old fashioned way can still be meaningful – and fun!
Please join the discussion and leave a comment about any additional items that can be sent to students in the mail.