My son is off to college in the fall, and I had somehow thought that the hard part was over.

Son had worked through his options, and had decided on a BFA in performing arts, something my DH and I knew aboslutely nothing about.  We did a ton of research to find out the right schools for him to apply to, and did as many college visits as we could afford.  All the applications, which were mostly due earlier than regular applications, got in on time.  I took a time off  to perform the logistical feat of scheduling 7 auditions in 5 locations across the eastern half of the country over a 6-week period.   Then, my DH or myself accompanied a nervous kid so he could perform a monologue that lasted, at most, 3 minutes and would determine his next step in life.

We all survived, and Son is enthusiastic about his future plans at a well-reputed program.  Couldn’t be better.  We would have a nice, relaxing summer with little to do.  Maybe a little shopping for appropriate clothing and some meaningful conversations with my son about how to handle situations that might come up.

Not so.  The university he will be attending has lengthy, separate checklists for  new students and new parents.

The “New Student Checklist” is a three-page-long To Do list with lots of links to lots of pages on the university’s website.  The tasks must completed according to a precise but hard-to-determine schedule.   Most tasks have nothing to do with academics.  There’s the mandatory online alcohol education course; the sign-up for microfridge delivery (stocked with free soda and junk food if you order early); the notification about insurance in case your stuff gets stolen; the bookstore charge account; and more. Each item on the list has a little box in front of it.  But you can’t put a check in it because the document is online and you can’t write in it.   Irritating…like most of the tasks on the To Do list.

Then, there’s is the correponding New Parent Checklist that’s not really a checklist.  Mostly it’s Advice to New College Parents on Letting Go and Letting Your Kid Make Mistakes.  But a lot of what Son is being asked to do needs explaining –not only how to do it  but also why a certain approach or timing is important.   Take the question of writing a resume so he can apply for a work-study job.  Son knows how to write an acting resume, but has never written a regular one, a task that is intimidating and difficult for most adults. I’m irritated at the New Parent list: after all we’ve been letting go over the years as Son has acquired skills and matured.

Yet,  this process feels brand-new.  As a family, we are now earnestly engaged in negotiating  my son’s transition from adolescence to adulthood.   And like many brand-new things, it’s both exhilarating and overwhelming.