Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Great College Move-In Day Experience

I have just come back from a long walk with many neighbors asking "How was your daughter's move-in to college?"

Wearing a "parent" hat, rather than an "academic" hat, and reflecting on my own move-in experience freshman year, I was very impressed as to how well-organized, painless, and, actually, very pleasant the whole experience was.

Some colleges have figured out systems to make what could be a very tiring, onerous process flow well and efficiently, and as someone who teaches operations, I care about having processes work and flow well.

We had driven our overloaded Volvo with a carrier on top, and, after overnighting in a local hotel, proceeded to her college. We  followed the directions that we were given, parked our car a few feet from my daughter's dorm, and there was a group of upper classmen in nice college t-shirts just waiting to carry all the labeled boxes to her dorm room.

We even had members of the college football team (Division 1 for those who care about such things) complete the job. It took no more than 15 minutes! Her room is on the second floor but I counted 3 short flights of stairs to get there. Coaches were driving around providing water and energy drinks.

My daughter managed to unpack and organize many of her belongings and then her room-mate came. It was wonderful how they had communicated beforehand to determine who would bring what that they could share.

While the room-mates were getting to know one another and organizing their room, I had  time to meet many of her dorm-mates, their parents, and relatives. It is a very good sign when the conversations with so many of the parents are so enjoyable that you wish that you can continue talking for hours (this also brings a sense of relief).

Afterwards -- certain colleges certainly do move-in days nicely -- during the convocation and even reception with the College President and his wife,  we met a family from the Philippines, a girl from Madagascar, and several new freshmen from China, plus families that had come from California, Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska to situate their college  freshmen.

When I was dropped off as a freshman at Brown University I had a minimal amount of  clothes (but I did take some of my paintings that I had done) and my freshman room-mate, who was from Kansas, and one of only two engineering majors that year, had already picked her side of the room.

We had a room at the end of the corridor and now so does my daughter.

Now for those who have dorm rooms in high rises (some of my daughter's friends will be living in rooms above the 20th floor at their universities), the scheduling of arrivals has been done with great finesse. Let's hope that the elevators work throughout the process.

The New York Times has an article on college move-in day but I especially enjoyed Professor Boylan's essay on "A Freshman All Over Again," in which she wrote about her son's move-in day into Vassar and reflected on her freshman transition at Wesleyan University. The comments from readers on the latter piece are very engaging and here we go again with the deja vu.