Sending a kid off to college

In two weeks, the lovely Mrs. S. and I will be moving Young Miss Striker five and a half hours away to college at St. Louis U. Of course we are immensely proud, because she has done well for herself, and will be going to the school she wants to go to with a fair amount of scholarship money. Of course, we are also scared shitless.

She’s a good kid, generally stays out of bad trouble, but has a tendency to run her mouth a little bit too much sometimes when she feels like she is right, and gets distracted easy when classes do not interest her (she really has the makings of a fine Doper). She has a tendency to get really anxious when she is in new situations and make bad decisions because of this. we are not really scared of her mouth getting her in trouble, but are worried about the disinterest and the anxiety. Luckily, the school seems to have a very active student health department that is accessible to her, and she is confident that she can ask for help in that regard.

Anyway, this is our first go-round with sending a kid off to school, and I just wanted to see if anyone out there had any advice for either her or us on what to be prepared for, unexpected things that you have encountered, and general life in St. Louis stuff. We have really only given her one edict (by her younger brother): you cannot come back a Cardinal’s fan.

It’s her life to fuck up. Don’t feel too much pressure as a parent.

Kids have been going off to college for many generations. None of them are “ready,” yet almost all of them figure it out. It’s harder on the parents. I was just glad we live in the age of cell phones. When I went to college my parents were lucky if I called them once a month, and they couldn’t call me at all.

MilliCal is going off to school this fall. Only she’s actually going to be staying at home and commuting.

I don’t have any advice, partly because we haven’t been through the process yet. But we had the same anxiety about letting her go off to the City, or other states, or even to Europe without us.

She came back OK each time.

I sent two kids off to school, while the third one stayed home and attended a local campus. I can’t say there was a real problem with the two that went away, except that there can be a tendency to get distracted being away from home the first time.

She probably won’t like her first roommate all that much. College life takes a while to adjust to, and the roommate is going through the same thing.

The Midtown area where St. Louis U. is located is becoming the trendy tech corridor – the area’s first Ikea (opens 9/30) is within walking distance of the campus. However, it’s an urban campus and some of the area around it is sketchy. She should stay in a group (or at least a pair) when she explores the area, and use the shuttles to get to the south campus, even though she could walk there.

SLU is a good choice for a serious student, and a good size for someone to get used to being away for the first time. As for unexpected things, I’ll just say sending a kid off to school is even more expensive than you think it will be.

Gotten two through in good shape. Make sure she knows the lines of communications are open even and especially if she screws up. You can hardly grow up without screwing up in some way - the important thing is that she knows she can talk to you.

Don’t helicopter. Kids survived with a lot less contact than they have now. When I went to college contact with my parents was a short once-a-week phone call. When my kids went they called on their way to classes or when they were bored.

Never drop in unannounced. At least you are far enough you won’t be tempted.
Think - would you have wanted your parents to know everything you did in college? I thought not.

This. I lived in that area from 1994-2001. There are students and there are low-lifes. And you will encounter both kinds on the streets around and within campus.

Somebody who’s prone to shooting off their mouth without thinking, AND who’s lived a sheltered white-bread life, MIGHT have some challenges with this.

IIRC it’s rare for students to get killed, but muggings are commonplace. Using good street sense is necessary.
Having said that, I did undergrad and grad school at an urban university in an equal-or-worse sketchy area of a different city. The same street sense was necessary there too. And in my 5 years there as a callow youth from the white-bread suburbs I actively avoided a few scary-looking folks, but never had an actual incident with anyone.

I agree with kunilou that that part of St. Louis is a little worrisome. A mile north of there it’s really bad. However the police patrol the area quite a bit to keep the crime down. Just tell her to be careful and that there’s safety in numbers.

Other than the crime, St. Louis is a pretty good city. It has the best team in baseball (especially when it comes to computer hacking). SLU in a prestigious university.

Two of my kids basically went to school not too far from home. The third one went away. We weren’t worried very much about her and all three did well in school. We just let them become adults.

Thanks for all the help so far, it is appreciated. I think warning her that she will have to be open minded and accepting of the roommates to make things work will be really helpful. I noticed on visits that some of the areas around campus were not the greatest, but not horrible either, and they seem to keep the campus area pretty safe. Luckily, she was able to go abroad last year, and hopefully the stay in groups, keep your eyes open advice from then will continue to stick.

And whomever said that having a kid away is more expensive than you think just totally nailed it. We have spent a decent amount, and she has yet to step foot in a classroom.

Your daughter sounds like ours a bit. Ours is starting her junior year across town from yours at WashU. It’s kind of a different area, but there are a couple of bits of advice that probably carry over.

First, our daughter has found that no matter what time of day or night she rides the MetroLink train, she gets unwanted attention from men if she is alone. I visited her during Parents’ Week her freshman year, and she was hit on even when she was with me (I am a big man, but blind and thus possibly not threatening enough). It does not help that the platforms do not require a ticket–the system is of the type where you must have a validated ticket or pass if there’s someone checking, or you are subject to fine. So sometimes indigents/panhandlers hang out on the platforms where people waiting for trains really can’t walk away from them.

Second, take advantage of the area. Forest Park has the zoo and art museum, which are both excellent and free–those are great places to get away from campus with friends without spending money. Find Ted Drewe’s while you’re there. Go the the Arch and ride to the top.

Third, you can pick out dorm supplies (sheets, lamps, pillows, etc) at Bed, Bath, and Beyond online and have everything available in a bin for you at the local store when you get there, then only buy the stuff you decide you actually need–this saved some time when we first took her to school.

Everyone else’s advice on keeping lines of communication open but not helicoptering is good. Our daughter made a few mistakes freshman year (mostly social; her academics have been fine, thankfully), but has settled down and made a comfortable place for herself at school by now. One nice thing about college is that you can (usually) change your schedule pretty easily in the first couple of weeks to dump the classes that turn out to be less than you imagined and find better ones; coursework is much more flexible than high school.

Good luck. Our son is entering his senior year of high school, so we’re going through the whole rigamarole once again in the coming year–can’t wait to see where he ends up.

Make sure she has plenty of money for dope. It really smooths off the rough edges.