Commentary

If you think you’re ready for college drop-off, think again

September 7, 2022 6:00 am

Twins Alexis and Brady say goodbye at UNH. (Courtesy)

As the proud father of twins, all the joys of parenthood are multiplied by two. I remember when Alexis and Brady were born, I felt excited to be able to shop “both sides” of the toy store. All the milestones, all the moments, all the fun times two! Yes, they would fight like cats and sometimes I wanted to give them away in exchange for five minutes of peace and quiet, but overall it has been an 18-year ride with way more smiles than frowns.

Of course, I never thought about the boomerang backside of all that fun. I’m talking about the double whammy of dropping each twin off for his and her freshman semester of college. I thought I was ready. I thought WE were ready. So much packing. So many checklists. Clothes, snacks, supplies, and plenty of that gum stuff that you use to attach posters to cinderblock.

Then I watched my daughter say goodbye to her brother. It was like having someone rip your heart out of your chest, stomp on it like a maniac and then hand it back calmly saying, “I think you dropped this.” Wait. It didn’t feel that good.

Scott Spradling and his daughter Alexis. (Courtesy)

It wasn’t until the day we unpacked Brady’s things at UNH and prepped to say farewell to him that it dawned on me that he and his sister Alexis have greeted every single new challenge in life side by side. School, divorce, moving to a new house, vacation, marriage, driver’s ed – all of it was done together. At times, they might have preferred a unique, individual experience. But mostly they had each other to compare notes, share homework, prep for tests, prep for everything as a duo.

Now, it’s a solo trip. The goodbye hug between Lexie and Brady shredded us all. That was a Friday. Saturday was the drop-off of Lexie at Holy Cross, which ended in a ceremony with all parents and kids saying goodbye on the football field. It was beautifully unbearable.

Nope. Not at all prepared.

You can circle the calendar. You can throw yourself into tasks and work. You can tell yourself this won’t be hard. And that’s true. It’s not hard, it’s sweet agony. It’s been a week and I have talked to the twins more in seven days than during the three weeks leading up to the drop-off.  

So, parents, you may not be able to emotionally prepare, but there are a few tips to make the day a little easier.

Most importantly, make sure you get the mailing address for your child on campus. I guarantee you will be jumping onto Amazon to order the stuff you forgot or never knew you needed. I have already ordered an ottoman, calculator, and dry erase board.

Amazon is my new bff.  

Lexie had me get Venmo. This will undoubtedly help … empty my bank account even faster. But when they need quick cash, this is the answer.

Small plastic shelving storage bins are a miracle from above. Buy at least two because there aren’t enough places to put things.

Scott Spradling’s son Brady at UNH. (Courtesy)

Shelf liners. Those who have them can avoid the gross remnants of what was left over from last year’s student. And to other parents, you look REALLY well prepared. We didn’t have them for Brady, but learned fast and had them for Lexie.

Have a co-pilot on the drive. Both arrivals to both schools involved a complicated navigation through campus and even onto sidewalks. Don’t try to drive and read the directions. It requires a master’s in college drop-off to do solo.

To all prospective freshman: Your dorm room is an oversized jail cell. You have limited space. Pack like you only need about a third of what you currently possess. If you think you need more than a pickup truck bed, you’re wrong.

Parents, make sure you know the dorm room layout. When you expect a rectangle and you get something more like a “W”, the day gets more complicated. I was told there’d be no math.

Stores have college checklists for packing – they’re totally useful, but you don’t need every single item.

Eat early, and snack and hydrate. Summertime dorm rooms average 163-degrees in the shade. And you’ll be standing with seven other people in a room designed for two.

Do NOT walk into their empty bedrooms as soon as you get back. Trust me on this one – it doesn’t end well.

This process doesn’t get easier, it just changes locations.  With that said, I’m so proud of my business major and biology major.  They’re more ready for all this than I am.

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Scott Spradling
Scott Spradling

Scott Spradling is the president of the strategic communications firm, The Spradling Group. He is an Emmy award winning former political reporter and anchor for WMUR-TV.

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