Off They Go!

In Kiddos, Lola Shreveport by Lola Magazine

By Jodie McJunkins

Trite but true – your children will be grown and gone in no time! Be prepared for the fast forward through high school years. Everyone will tell you those four years fly by in a flash. This declaration is absolutely correct.

It is never too early to prepare for college.

Every child and family is different. Many know where they want to attend. Whatever the pull is for you – whether a die-hard Tiger, have a field of study that only a few colleges offer degrees in, have your heart set on the East Coast, or want to know where you can get the most financial aid- giving attention to these wants or needs can make the planning of where to attend less complicated.

For some, however, the world is their oyster and the myriad opportunities await. How do you navigate? Some just research on their own and stumble upon the institution that feels the best fit. Others, like my family, would prefer guidance from a professional. While there are plenty of resources, we chose a local company: Strategic College Connections. Having worked in higher Education Admissions, owner Mickey Quinlin helps students and families find the quintessential college through assessments; he helps to create student profiles based on their assessments, and he narrows down college choices due to assessment results and creating timelines for those college visits. This service has been extraordinarily helpful in removing the work and pressure from us and having an arbitrary middle man to assist our son, a senior this year. It is irrelevant that I am an Arkansas Razorback while my husband is a Louisiana Tech Bulldog/Tiger fan. The final collegiate choice garners the best fit for our child. We began working with Mickey in middle of our son’s sophomore year.

Decision made! Where do you live?

Living arrangements are typically dictated by the college. Some institutions require on campus living for two or more years, while others only require one year or even none at all.

10 ways to be a great roommate
Communicate Expectations
Lock the Door
Give Your Roommate alone time
Respect their things
Make an Agreement with your roommate
Be Courteous of their schedule
Stay Clean
Deal with Problems as they Arise
Be Intentional
Always offer help

Do You Go Greek?

Whether or not you go through sorority/fraternity recruitment (formally known as RUSH) is based on the student’s preference. The prevalence of Greek life varies at every school. If you are attending as an athlete, an artist, or on a scholarship dedicated to a specific project, you might not have time for Greek Life and will have your own “built-in” family. While many enjoy being only Greek in college, others find the value of the organization throughout their life. My life as a Chi Omega in college provided me with friendships, A.K.A., “sisters,” a social life, a warm home to live in with home cooked meals, and an emphasis on outstanding scholarship. The “sisterhood” as an alumnus, however, has enriched my life far past the four years of college and still currently at the age of forty-seven.

How Many Hours Do You Take?

College Freshman Orientations purposely assist you with the best balance per student. Advice from fellow parents is to attend orientation as early as possible and not wait until the end of summer. You acclimate earlier and have time to prepare for the myriad other things necessary.

Cutting The Cord

Every milestone with your child seems like the hardest; their first babysitter (will they be alive when you get home?), Mother’s Day Out (five hours, two days a week seems like a minute as you rush to wake the sleepy baby from their nap mat), Pre-school (did the really get plucked from your car and walk in with their monogrammed book bag and not look back?), Kindergarten (my gut ached like I had thrown my child to the wolves for at least two weeks and then Katrina hit and realized I had no worries), Middle School (my child will be at school with other kiddos that have beards and body odor???), and, finally, High School (teenagers be crazy). COLLEGE? No longer under your roof and all you have is the Find Friends app to follow them.

What do you do to prepare yourself for letting go? I love this advice from my close friend, Dixey Robertson, whose son, Trent, just graduated from Byrd High School and is heading to LSU this fall. “I have been doing two things,” states Robertson. “Number one is limiting my outside commitments so my schedule is open for opportunities to do something with just Trent or as a family. Even if it is just all going out to eat is an event with their summer sports and work schedules.” Her number two, she said was getting all the shopping and planning done early so life will not be hectic and rushed at the end of the summer when it is time for Trent to leave.

Emotionally, Robertson indicates, it is not so easy. “Lots of prayer and reflection on how far we have come and all we have poured into him to prepare for this day,” she lamented. As Elizabeth Stone famously quotes, “Making the decision to have a child . . . it is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside of your body.”

The Journey

Preparing where to attend college and all the decisions after might seem overwhelming. However, planning ahead, doing your research, and not waiting until the last minute can alleviate so much stress during such a milestone change in life.

Back To School Packing

Dry-Erase Board
Glue Stick
Highlighter Pen
Index Cards
Note Paper
Pens and Pencils
Post-it notes
Push Pins
Scotch Tape
Sharpie Marker
Three-hole punch

Bath Towels
Curling iron
Extra-long twin sheet
Hair Dryer
Hair Straightener
Mattress Pad
Pillows/Pillow Cases
Shoe Cady
Shoe Shoes
Flip Flops
Wash Cloths

Contacts and supplies
Dental Floss
Hair Conditioner
Hair Spray/Gel
Nail Clippers
Shaving Cream
Soap and Shampoo

Clothes Hangers
Hat/Gloves/scarf/boots for winter
Jeans and pants
Luggage/duffel bags
Shoes and socks

Adhesive hooks
Bean bag chair
Bedrest pillow
Book ends
Bulletin Board
Drawer organizers
Door Stop
Message Board for door
Storage crates
Wall posters

Alarm Clock
Camera/memory card
Computer and power cords
Ethernet cable if needed
Extension cords
External Hard drive
Game console and games
Headphones or ear buds
Laptop case
Cell phone and charger
Printer/cables/ink and paper
Surge protector
Flash Drive

Bowls and plates
Can/bottle opener
Chip clips
Coffee Maker
Cups and mugs
Knives and pizza cutter
Paper Plates
Paper towels
Food Containers
Salt and pepper
Small Microwave
Water Bottle
Ziploc bags
Cleaning and fixing
Air Freshener
All-purpose cleaner
Bathroom Cleaner
Disinfecting wipes
Dryer sheets
Duct tape
Fabric Softener
Ironing board
Laundry basket
Laundry hamper
Measuring tape
Stain Remover
Tool kit