After a fairly busy summer, our daughter is finally off to college. We didn’t get very much time with her over the summer, unfortunately. A few days after graduation, we took a cruise to Bermuda (our gift to her), and on the way back from the port in Jersey after we returned, dropped her off at Camp Woodward to work as a counselor and coach for most of the summer. We basically had a week and a half between the time she got home from PA and when we drove down to Florida to drop her off. Honestly, it flew by way too fast.
The drive down to Florida was fun. As mentioned before, her best friend is going to Eckerd too, so we drove down with him and his family in caravan fashion. My daughter’s going to have her car down there this year (only because she agreed to pay for registration), so we had two cars and they had one. We actually went down a couple of days early so we could make use of some old Universal Studios passes we still had (each had one day left) the day before she moved in to the dorms. It was a nice final day of family fun before we pawned her off on her new RA.
On move-in day, we headed to campus early to try and beat the crowds. The dorm she’s in didn’t really have many others moving in, but we knew ahead of time that her roommate wasn’t planning to arrive until early afternoon, so our goal was to get her stuff in and set up before that to avoid having both families vying for a small space at the same time.
Upon arriving, check-in went pretty fast. I think from the time we started until we had her room key, it took about 20 minutes. We decided to go ahead and get her autumn term books before the crowds hit the bookstore, and then headed over to her new home. That fun Florida humidity made move-in day a fairly sweaty affair, but we got it all set up. I have to say that I still feel like we took way too much stuff down, but I never really had a say in it. The end result does give her a comfortable place to live though. Here’s the “before” and “after”:
She got a corner dorm in the pet-friendly section of the Kappa complex. Out that window is Kappa field, with South Beach on the far side of that. Here’s a panoramic taken right below her window. Not a bad location 🙂
With dorm activities complete, we headed over to one of the classrooms to meet her autumn term professor (this was a school-scheduled thing, not us being helicopter parents). Before I go on, I should explain Eckerd’s autumn term. It’s a 3 week period where the freshman are the only ones on campus. In the morning, they take one full-credit class to warm them up to what the academic side of college will be, and in the afternoon they participate in school scheduled activities as well as study. The events range from time at the beach / Waterfront, to trips around town (they’re going to a Rays baseball game at some point, I think). They also get to see what sorts of clubs are available during the school year so they can get involved. Oh, and yes, they have regular homework during this time, as her class was assigned a paper on the first day of class.
Anyway, all of the parents and students in her autumn term class met with the professor and TA in the classroom and got a nice welcome, and explanation of what his role is as their Freshman year mentor. He was also brutally honest, letting those hovering parents among the group know that he’s not allowed to divulge any info about a student to their parents unless the student has filled out a waiver. We’re not going to, as this is her time to really see what being a grown-up is about. She needs to learn to be more independent.
After an hour or so of that, we all headed off to the gym for the Ceremony of Lights, where they officially welcome the incoming class. Nice touch, but sitting through long speeches isn’t really my thing. Here’s the part where we were supposed to set someone else’s hair on fire (okay, not really)
After that ended, we were done for the night. There were still parent activities in the morning, so this wasn’t the final goodbye just yet, but my wife and I headed back to the house we rented with our caravan-mates, and left our daughter to enjoy her first night at school, which started with a two hour late night dorm meeting with the RA.
On Saturday, we headed back over for the remaining parent activity, which for us was a bust. It was a lecture on “long distance parenting”. It’s not that it was bad material, but it was all common sense. It basically boiled down to:
- Stop doing everything for your kids, let them learn to solve their own problems
- If they find out they’re not good at something, don’t force them to stay in that major
- Don’t hover, it’s time for them to be adults
and more of the same. I had one last thing I wanted to do to her car, so I left the lecture early to go take care of it. My wife didn’t last much longer. About the time we got back to her dorm, she was getting out of class (did I fail to mention that the first day of class was a Saturday morning? :)), so the three of us headed into downtown St Pete for some lunch at Fortunato’s Italian Market, which was delicious (some of the best garlic knots I’ve ever had).
After lunch, it was time for the swim test at the Waterfront. They’ve got access to a whole bunch of water toys to check out as they see fit (included in tuition/fees), but to do so, they have to pass a swim test at the start of the year. After she easily completed hers, she decided to go paddle boarding with a few people. That main picture on this post is her out paddle boarding. Tough life…
With the swim test and Waterfront time over, it was time for us to set her free. She had stuff scheduled on campus the rest of the afternoon (including some planned study time), and was planning to catch up with her best friend and his roommate later on for some yoga on the beach, which would have been interesting to see since she’s never done yoga before. Our goodbye was definitely sad, but the sadness was mixed with that proud dad feeling as I know she’s ready for this, even if she doesn’t feel that way. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m going to really miss her around here, though. I secretly look forward to her coming home over the long winter break.