As summer vacation wraps and the back-to-school frenzy begins, millions of families are focusing on a different kind of college prep. While the anxiety of standardized testing has passed, another variety of college-bound anxiety surfaces as parents and students shop, sweat, and scramble to become “university ready”.
Dorms and drop offs have changed since I left the quad. Foot lockers have been replaced with carts and duffles on wheels (REALLY? The geniuses couldn’t have come up with that one before 1981?), RAs have at least a dozen heavy lifting assistants for move in day and dorm hall phones have disappeared like woolly mammoth.
Looking back on my college past and anticipating our children’s college futures, I came up with two very different college wish lists. What would yours be?
My Personal College Wish List
No, I didn’t have to walk 10 miles in the snow (shoeless) to get to campus, but I sure wish I’d had these 5 things to make college life easier….
- Space Bags – Sadly, I had to pack without compressing everything into a 30 pound 6” x 12” rectangle.
- Detergent Pods – Hauling an open box of Tide doesn’t sound bad until you spill the entire contents on the stairwell. Laundry soap pods and pellets rock.
- Amazon.com – If you’re under 25 years of age you might not believe this, but college students in the seventies and eighties had to go shopping or phone home for supplies.
- iPhone / Laptop – Way back when, Face Time meant showing up at the student union around 9 p.m. Today, FaceTime is the iPhone app that could spare me that long walk to the union in the snow AND the wait in the dorm phone booth line to call home. And I’d also have more room for clothes thanks to the electronic brilliance that puts record collections, photos and typewriters all in one place!
- Karaoke Machine – Back in my day, when we broke into song, hairbrushes served as imaginary microphones. Our rendition of “I Will Survive” would have made Gloria Gaynor proud, but oh the ground we could have covered with a real mike and background music!
My Parent Wish List
Great college memories sometimes happen when you least expect it. I hope all college students are able to check a few of these items off the list this year….
- A class that makes you want to get up before noon.
- Great friendships and bonding you never anticipated.
- New-found confidence that inspires you to try even harder.
- A campus crush that’s not painful.
- Hairbrush (or air guitar) moments that make you smile.
…because with or without karaoke, you’ll always remember the songs, the friendships and the fun.
Nancy Berk, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, award-winning humorist, comic, professor, and former admissions committee member, who was shocked to find herself as panicked as the rest when her older son began his college search.A frequent contributor to Chicken Soup For The Soul, she blogs for The Huffington Post, USA Today College, and MORE Magazine. Author of Secrets of a Bar Mitzvah Mom (2005), Nancy’s been spotlighted in The New York Times and interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSN, and national magazines. Nancy has appeared on television, stage, and radio, and hosts two podcasts: Whine At 9 and The College Mom Minute.Her newest book, “College Bound and Gagged” – a great companion for the anxious parent, can be ordered on Amazon.