College Drop Off/family Vacation

Updated on August 05, 2016
J.B. asks from Boston, MA
8 answers

For those who have done the college send off, I'd love your thoughts on combining that with a family vacation. My SD is going to school in Montreal and her move in will be the last weekend in August. I was planning on going to one of the northern New England states for vacation with my two younger sons (ages 10 & 12) anyway in August and invited my soon-to-be-ex to join us if he wanted to as we get along just fine and he's handy with things like driving a trailer or a boat. We've been looking at house/cabin rentals in various areas and right now none are fitting our budget, dates, and needs so we're considering doing the whole vacation in Montreal and combining that with bringing SD to school. We also have the option of spending a couple of nights at a place in Maine either on the way there or back.

I've asked my ex to please get his daughter's input on this as going off to college for the first time - in another country - is a big deal and she may have a strong picture of how this was going to go and I don't want to upend that. However, she is actually out of the country right now on a trip and with sporadic communication, we might not hear from her for another couple of days and are looking to nail down plans.

When you brought your kids, did you have the chance to spend a few days in their new location? If you did, was it more beneficial to have you all there for a few days before the move onto campus (site seeing, nice dinners with family, staying at a hotel, time to get last-minute items you forgot) and then leave them to get settled and head out of town right after? Or did your child want you to be nearby for another day or two in case they needed anything? I went to school an hour from my house so my parents brought me to school, helped me unload and were gone by dinnertime, leaving me to jump right into socializing and doing all of the planned activities, so this isn't something I've experienced. Thanks for any input you can provide!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Oklahoma City on

I'd say that you could do some sightseeing in her town whether she wants you to be "there" for her or not. You can simply tell her that you want to visit that area and if she needs you she can call. Then if she doesn't call you're off the hook but if she does then you are able to pop over and help out.

Then you can leave on a certain day and do all you want to do on the way home.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Boston on

I give you credit, once again, for trying to have a cordial co-parenting relationship with your ex and with the step-siblings!

In our experience, the drop-off is a half day affair. You'll have to check with the individual school, of course, (and hopefully they have sent a schedule, or will soon - but maybe it went to the student?) If not, you can request something from the school. For references, ours was like this:

- go to new student registration to get ID and room access info (key code, whatever).
- pull up at dorm and unload stuff, start hauling it to the room. Some schools have crews of upperclass students who do a lot of the hauling. If there is a high rise dorm with an elevator, plan on long delays.
- get room set up (boxes unpacked, bed made, computer set up) if the kid will allow it. Sometimes they want to do things themselves. In any case, it won't be everyone - you have a large family and there is no way you will all fit in a typical freshman room.
- greet roommate and perhaps exchange pleasantries with the other set of parents, maybe meet the RA
- go to 2 separate orientations, one for the student and one for the parents. Our parent orientation basically said, warmly and with love, "Welcome. Your job is done. Your kid is grown up. Don't call professors to get extensions, don't call the dean of students for your kid's grades, don't call the health center to find out if they've been seen or if they signed up for birth control."
- grab lunch at the dining hall or wherever they have things set up for you. Probably you will have to pay for this.
- maybe make a trip to the bookstore for supplies (mostly things with college logo on them; you'll get better prices at the local Target or Staples for room stuff). Otherwise, just put money in her account and she will pick up stuff herself when her professors tell her what she needs.
- say goodbye and go home (or sightseeing) so child can settle in.
- optional: come back after dinner for a ceremony on the quad in which the kids all formed a circle and lit candles as a sort of kick-off. They walked through a main gate as a procession, and this was actually replicated 4 years later on their graduation day. A lot of schools do something along those lines. But parents/families were in the back rows and the kids took center stage.

In my experience, the freshman doesn't want the parents hanging out. This is not Parents Weekend with activities to integrate the family to college life. College life hasn't begun yet and there's really nothing for the college kid to share with you. They're ready to have you take off and not prolong the goodbyes. After this first day, there was absolutely no provision for parents being around. New students did things like dinners in town with professors' families or other town "dignitaries", a hike to the local state park, and other group-building activities.

If it were me, I'd get a hotel nearby for the night before, then arrive in the morning. I'd take some stuff for the younger kids to do in one of the public lounges while you do some of the parent stuff in the room once the hauling of suitcases and boxes is done. Then set up the room (or in your case, have Dad do it with daughter unless she wants your touch on things). Take a mini tour if they offer it, or do it on your own. But classes won't be in session so I'm not sure there's much benefit for your or the younger kids to see empty classrooms or the gym. So I'd leave by mid-afternoon and go off on your family vacation.

Good luck!!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Because my son was familiar with the campus....& I became familiar with it during Summer/Parent Orientation, we did his room installation & he immediately joined in on the social activities. By the time we enjoyed a relaxing lunch, our son was already hooked up with friends & we hit the road for home.

I applaud you for considering what your SD may have visualized for herself! I do believe your idea to stay in Montreal for a few days would be my choice. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

ETA: Just come back from my back to school meeting at the university and they mentioned the date of move-ins and a BBQ for the campus community this year. Family members are welcome to join in..

Original: I think the dropping off of the student and getting them set up is a good idea. After which I would go back to the hotel for the night. The next day I would begin the family vacation and sightseeing in Montreal and then go home.

The SD is now grown and on to other things. You guys can co-parent or not but your job is basically done. She will be a bit lonely but she will find friends and move on.

Enjoy Montreal and all the sights.

the other S.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids only needed us to help them move in to their dorms or apartments. After that we left. The kids didn't need us to stay longer. There wasn't any particular ceremony before or after, and it worked out fine.

However, Montreal is a great city, so stay there as long as you wish, for your own vacation.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It will really depend on your stepdaughter. When I went to college, I was ready for my parents to leave as soon as the last load from the car was in my room. I know that took my dad aback...I guess he was expecting me to be upset they were leaving, but I was too excited to be out on my own. I didn't want my parents helping me unpack and I was fine getting the extra stuff that I didn't know I needed. I don't even remember if my school had any events for the parents. Move in was on a Saturday, you met with an advisor on Monday and scheduled all your classes (for freshman), then class started on Wednesday.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I agree with Diane B. I suggest that your daughter expects you do something like that. She will be so excited and anxious to be at school. She will likely not spend much.time with family. I suggest that getting there early for a vacation .she won't much enjoy it. Again, anxiety. You or her Dad know your daughter and can make a.pretty accurate guess to her response.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I wanted time alone to get settled in before classes started. After checking in to the dorm and hauling up luggage and such, we went out to an early dinner. After, mom wanted to go to the nearby grocery store to get some food for me. (Her love language is feeding people.) We did that and went back to my room for goodbyes.

There is nothing wrong with you hanging around Montreal with the younger kids for some sightseeing as a separate event. You could let SD know that she can join you or not, no pressure.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions