You’ve survived the college admissions process. You’ve survived Senior Summer. You’ve survived Move-in Day. You’ve survived the ride home after leaving your student at school. Now you’ve arrived home to the empty (or at least emptier) nest. It’s just a little bit quieter, just a little bit less messy, just a little bit – well, emptier. And suddenly you’re not sure what you should be doing.
The year before college is a busy year. There are the college fairs, the college visits, the college applications – and essays and recommendations and, of course, financial aid forms. There may be second visits, interviews, accepted student events to attend. And then there’s senior year – special events, class trips, proms, award ceremonies, graduation – with all of its surrounding festivities. And then the summer of orientations, shopping – and more shopping – and packing, and getting every last detail ready. Of course, it is your student who is going away to college, but the whole family can be swept up in the whirlwind of the year.
And then you come home from dropping your student off at school and you’re not sure what to do. That empty nest fairly echoes. So much of the last year has been focused on your student – and now she’s off on her own and the swirl of activity has ceased. One of the reasons that we, as college parents, are sometimes more involved that we “should” be is that it is habit. It’s what we’ve done for years – and especially this past year. And it feels as though we should be doing something.
It will take time to get used to the quieter house, to less carpooling and calendar juggling and cleaning up. It will take time.
But for right now, while you are still looking for something to do, while you are still thinking about your student and wondering about your student and possibly worrying about your student, here’s a small homework assignment to keep you busy – and to keep you thinking – positively – about your student.
It’s time to say thank you.
Take some time to think about the people who – over the last year – or last few years – have been particularly important and involved in helping your student get to college. Who are the people who went out of their way to help? Who are the people who were especially caring or supportive? Who are the people who helped your student – or who helped you?
Who are these people? Perhaps a special guidance counselor, teacher, coach, pastor or religious leader, friend, neighbor, relative, employer? Once you start, you may be surprised at how quickly the list grows.
Take time right now to thank them. Write a good, old-fashioned thank you note. Not an e-mail, a real honest-to-goodness note. Just a short one. Just to say thank you for what you did to help. Just to let them know it didn’t go unnoticed. Maybe even include a picture of move-in day.
It’s a wonderful reminder of the web of support that surrounds your student. It’s a reminder of why your student is going to succeed. It’s a reminder of the network that you have – even though your student has headed off to the next phase of her life.