10 Ways to Say Goodbye to Your College Freshman

Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when it involves someone you love dearly. As parents across the nation send their kids off to college, Mighty Mommy shares ten tips on how to say goodbye without too much hysteria!

Cheryl Butler
7-minute read
Episode #392

6.) Be Low Key With Roommates

With all social media avenues available, many colleges connect kids with their roommates months before move in day. My freshman son last year knew who his roomies were before he arrived on campus so he had somewhat of an idea of what to expect. This part of the college experience is one that usually students and certainly not parents have much control over, so when you do arrive and get a gander at who your child is going to share a 10 by 10 space with for the next 8 months, be very low key and keep your opinions to yourself.  Your kid doesn't want you explaining your family history. If you don't like the roommate, (yes, it happens!), keep a poker face. Let your kid be the one to voice his concerns—not you. This is not like a play date where you arrange everything, but a relationship your child needs to work through on his own. When my son left for college last year, I introduced myself to his two roommates and wished them a great school year.  I humbly asked if I could take a photo of the three of them, which they were most happy to do, but then I excused myself and left the room so they could figure out who got which bed. One helpful tip: Bring a simple tool kit for the room to share, a hammer, screwdriver and the like. It will be borrowed a lot. 

If you don't like the roommate, (yes, it happens!), keep a poker face.

7.) Plan Ahead

Care packages are especially great for freshman year. Getting physical mail is nice for students of all ages, especially when they contain food, money, or gift cards.  Plan ahead to have care packages sent during those first couple of months in addition to checking in with text messages, phone calls, and an actual visit if you and your child agree that that would be a nice idea.  Last year my son texted and called home dozens of times the first few weeks because he was homesick. Once he got to meet kids on campus and on the team he played with, those texts and calls slowly started to dissipate, which was of great comfort to me because I knew he was settling in to his new life at college.

8.) In Sickness and in Health

One of the most difficult college-parenting moments for me is when one of my college kids gets sick for the first time away at school, and I can’t be there to physically take care of them.  I always set up a “mom box” for each of them that includes all the essentials they might need when they come down with a cold or other illness. Some of these items include aspirin and pain relievers, sinus aids, cough drops and throat lozenges, thera-flu and tea, items for upset stomachs and diarrhea (they’ll thank you for this one!) band-aids, tweezers, gauze, feminine products for your daughters, and anything else you can think of that would comfort them when they get sick. It’s also a good idea to figure out where the nearest pharmacy is, where the health clinic on campus is and even the nearest hospital just so you’ll both have peace of mind should any of these places be necessary throughout the year.

9.) One Final Glance  

One of my favorite pieces of advice for this moment of truth comes from Dr. Michele Borba, educational psychologist and parenting expert: “Recognize who he has become—he's in a whole new world now, and you've helped him become the person he is today. This is what parenting is all about. Drive off. Cry a bit. But also remember to celebrate the moment. You deserve it!”  

10.)  Think like Winnie the Pooh

One of my favorite quotes ever is this by Winnie The Pooh: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." I have it framed in my house as a reminder of what a blessing all of my kids are and as they leave the nest, I’ve done my job with a very full heart.

How have you prepared to say goodbye to your freshman or college student?

Share your thoughts in the comment section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com.  Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.