I loved it from the moment I laid eyes on each building, path, bridge, garden, and pathway 30 years ago this summer. I was a 19-year-old transfer student, eager to embrace a new life at California State University, Chico, located three hours away from home. My mother did not share my enthusiasm as she peered into my first dorm room, muttering, “It looks like a prison.” Within a few days of moving in, I noticed a handsome dark-haired resident as I sorted mail at the front desk. Less than three years later, I married him. During my college years, I determined my values and morals, stretched myself as an adult, developed friendships that are still influential in my life, made some of my favorite memories in my life, and received a fabulous education.
My husband and I were lucky enough to settle in the same city where we attended university and raised our children only a couple miles away from the rose garden where we first kissed. We took our children to see performances at the auditorium on campus. We strolled through the campus with them from an early age. When it came time for them to determine where to attend college, their choice of majors and preferences in size and extracurricular activities also led them both to choose Chico State for their undergraduate degrees as well. They attended lectures in the buildings where we once studied. They met their closest companions. They thrived in their chosen career paths. While they attended, I became a member of the Parent Advisory Council, volunteering at many events. I beamed with pride on their graduation day in 2014, watching them cross the same stage their father and I had crossed to receive our degrees in 1990 and 1991.
I continued my involvement in the Parent Advisory Council after they graduated. Today it was my privilege to assist parents today as they moved their children in to the residence halls. I answered questions, consoled, gave advice, directed them to the right places, gave them swag, and sometimes handed them Kleenex as their emotions came bubbling to the surface. It was so fun to relive memories as I walked around the campus I love so much.
I have learned great practical tips that I observed from my experience as student, parent, community member, and volunteer, some by dismal failures I have made and some by observing others. Here’s some of my favorite:
- Try to get all your shopping done at Target or Walmart before you arrive. These stores are a madhouse during move-in weeks.
- Assemble a small toolkit for your child with a hammer, pliers, a screwdriver, duct tape, and hanging hooks.
- Prepare to expand your flexibility and patience. If you start to lose your cool, your child’s final thoughts of you before you leave won’t be positive ones.
- Make sure you pack lots of snacks.
- Don’t overstay your welcome. Show your support, get them moved in, take them out for something to eat, then say your goodbyes.
- Rest in a job well done. We raise them to leave the nest and soar!