My second son is starting college this fall and will be away from home for his first year. When I left home at 18 I felt so happy to be out on my own, but now I realize how hard it must have been on my mother.
Helping your child get organized for the big move will not only create a great foundation for your college-bound kid’s future, but it will give you a sense of security knowing they are taken care of when they’re away from home. So here is an organizing to-do list to help you, mom, get ready for college.
1. Create a binder with important information. Include a brief medical history, financial information, birthdays of family and friends, maybe even a list of family members with their professions and phone numbers in case they need a professional introduction.
2. Invest in collapsible storage. First year dorm, second year apartment, third-year summer internship…their lives are in transition. Collapsible storage will be there when they need it and fit neatly under the bed when they don’t.
3. Create a paper plan with them for both schoolwork and other papers. Where will they store graded homework? I suggest file boxes with hanging files. Once they receive their correct grades, they should clean it out for the next year. Keep only what is really necessary.
4. Create binders for each class with sheet protectors. The sheet protectors will serve as a place to put handouts and other papers without requiring a hole-punch. And class notes can go in the rings between dividers.
5. Suggest a color coding system for keeping up with class work. Finance is green, science is red, history is blue…it doesn’t really matter. The point is if you color code everything it makes it easier to quickly grab it as you head out the door for class.
6. Invest in adhesive white boards, one for each class. Instruct them to write down important reminders on the board(s) weekly. If they are visually-minded this is a grade-saving tip.
7. Help them create (and stick to) a weekly schedule for tasks like cleaning, laundry, shopping, and studying. Routine will keep them from becoming overwhelmed, a precursor to disorganization. There are many available planners out there. I prefer Emily Ley or the Passion Planner.
8. Keep it simple. Elaborate organizational plans are a recipe for disaster. Help them understand their abilities and style so that they have plans that will work for them.
9. Don’t over buy. They will need binder clips, but not a gallon of 5000. Most college kids are space-challenged whether they live on campus or not, so keep your buying in check.