102: How to Help Your College Student Prepare for A Different Campus Part 1 of 2

102: How to Help Your College Student Prepare for A Different Campus Part 1 of 2

Hello, my ah-mazing empty nest friend, 

Fall 2020: some of our children's schools have plans for an on-campus return, and the campus won't be the campus our child(ren) left or visited. Life is different, and campus life will be no exception.

While our daughter is scheduled to head back to college in less than six weeks, that may or may not come to fruition. 2020 has a sneaky way of showing us that plans are rarely concrete. In the meantime, the best thing our family can do is prep for a return to campus with the knowledge we have now. In this episode, I share some things we are doing to prepare for an on-campus semester. 

Coach Christine,

Your Empty Nest Coach

"If your child doesn't already have a thermometer and a first aid kit - it is time to round one up for the fall!"

Take a listen or read the full transcript at the bottom of this post.

⇓⇓⇓ More goodies below, too! Scroll down ⇓, so you don't miss anything! ⇓⇓⇓

New podcast episode 🎙 How Coach Christine's family is preparing for her daughter's fall return to campus - tips and advice! 💚 #CollegeParent #EmptyNest #NotSoEmptyNest #CollegeLife #CollegeStudent #FallSemester #OnCampus

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What You Will Learn in this Episode 

  • The Ways That Coach Christine And Her Family Are Preparing for a Fall On-Campus Semester
  • To Consider Talking About the What-Ifs

Quick Tip Submissions

Episode Questions for You To Consider

  1. If your child is heading back to campus soon, what are your biggest concerns? 
  2. Do you have a medical question about your child being on campus in the fall? 

Episode Resources

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Episode 102 of the Your Empty Nest Coach Podcast


Christine:  You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 102: How To Help Your College Student Prepare for a Different Campus. I work with mothers of high school students and beyond, who are in the trenches with sad and possibly, overwhelming thoughts about what their life will look like when their baby heads to college and begins to leave the nest. My clients’ big question is what will I do with my time? Is this you? I’ve been there, and I get it.  Empowering you to write the next jaw-dropping, amazing chapter in your life is my passion. I am energized by leading you in the process of exploration and am thrilled when you unlock the power that lies within you. This podcast is my gift to you.


Hello, my empty nest friend and CEO of Your Life! As of this recording, my daughter is scheduled to head back to campus in less than six weeks. Now, while that is the plan now, this episode very well may be of no use to anyone if the trend continues on the trajectory that the epidemic is on now. Whew! If our daughter is home for the fall, there isn’t much we can do to prepare for now, but if she heads to campus as planned, there are things we can prepare for, so I do that but am continually checking the drama in my mind around the idea of her going back. Wow, there are so many things outside of our fence right now.


I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I thought I would share some things we are doing to prepare her for a campus-life that will look different from the campus she left in March. Before we dive in, a quick reminder, that if you find yourself talking back to me at any part of this episode; if something resonates with you; or if you have a quick tip to share with my audience, please take the opportunity to leave me audio feedback either through SpeakPipe or my Google Voice number. You’ll find the information to do this in the description of this episode: on Apple Podcasts click “Details”; on Spotify click “See More”; on Overcast press the I for information button. Get the idea? Of course I always have full show notes with links to anything I discuss in the episode, and a full episode transcription on my website. Those reside at YourEmptyNestCoach.com/P (for podcast) and 102 (for this episode’s number). (YourEmptyNestCoach.com/P102). I can’t wait to hear from you!


Thanks! Thank you! It’s time to thank our sponsor. This episode is sponsored by my membership community, The GPS Support Flock; Your Flight to Success in the Empty Nest. If you are ready to find the GPS of your life, sign up to receive an immediate and free download of my PDF, "How to Find Yourself in the Empty Nest," our GPS Life Principles document. You will also have the opportunity to learn about our community. See the link in this episode's show notes or fly on over to my website, YourEmptyNestCoach.com. Click the GPS Support Flock button.  See you soon!  


What am I doing to prepare for my daughter’s return to campus?  Here’s nine things: 

  1. Stocking Up. Where I live, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are just now entering the shelves in stores, and the disinfecting wipes, if one or two are on the shelf, I run. Well, I don’t run, but I want to run. I’ve been picking up my one allotted disinfecting wipes on the rare occasion that I see them, and have started a small collection of tubs and hand sanitizer for the fall. I say a small collection, this is not a surplus in my garage. I have a hunch that in six weeks, with everyone else returning to school, these items may be even harder to find than they are now.  We are not stockpiling, like I said. We are purchasing enough that she’ll be okay if she can’t get to a store during her time on campus, and if someone in the dorm is diagnosed with COVID-19, this would allow me to feel like she isn’t high and dry on supplies.  That’s number one, stocking up appropriately.

  1. Public Mask-Wearing Practice.  Now, some of you are going to think this is ridiculous because you’ve been out and about wearing masks, but some people have not left their house often, and if your child has not been out and about yet, it is time for them to get used to being outside of the house with a mask on.  It’s important. Getting used to this, along with social distancing is also important. Most, if not all colleges, are going to require masks on campus and in classrooms. It makes sense. Make or purchase your masks now and get used to wearing them, properly. Some individuals with sensory issues or other things may need some adjustment time to get used to it. I know that sounds odd for those who don’t have these concerns but I’m a firm believer in limiting the amount of anxiety our children have, so getting familiar with wearing them will be helpful. Hopefully they know themselves well enough that you can start a conversation with them and they’ll have their own ways to prepare for the fall. Listen to them, and encourage them to seek supplies and helpful resources now.


I don’t know about where your child goes, but my daughter’s college had already implemented that a mask was required for those who are sick in prior years, so she already has it in her head that it is a courtesy to others to wear a mask when she isn’t feeling well, but has to go to a class. This was pre-pandemic, so I’m guessing moving forward she would not go to class, and it would be a no-brainer. But I do know that even among my own friends, there are varying degrees of comfort in being in the outside world with masks.

  1. Mask Maintenance.  I feel like this is going to be the thing that everyone overlooks, so I’m trying to get into our daughter’s head ahead of time.  Yes, your child’s college may be giving two masks per student, or something like that.  But are they on track to know how to properly wash them, because they should be washed after every use - every use.  Yes, every use, and we know how great our children are at keeping up with their laundry. Yes, this is why I think this is going to be the overlooked and troublesome part. The CDC.gov site has all kinds of resources, but high-level cloth masks should be washed after every use and dried completely, high on the dryer or out in the sun, which is kind of tough to do in the dorm. When we remove our masks, we need to be sure that we use the ear loops or ties to remove it and fold the outside corners together. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing the mask and wash your hands immediately after removing the mask. Which brings me to ...

  1. Proper Hand Washing. My daughter’s college sent us videos that we had to check off and say that, yup, we watched these before we headed back to pick up her items a few weeks ago. Sure, we were on the honor system but it is funny, after we both watched them, we discussed how we were never really shown as children how to properly wash our hands. Sure, we were told to sing the Happy Birthday song twice, but what to do during that time?  That’s really helpful to know, and there are great videos out there for this. 

  1. Temperature Taking. If your child doesn’t already have a thermometer and a first aid kit, it is time to round one up for the fall. If the college they are attending doesn’t have them track their temperature, encourage them to track it for a few days at home, for them to become comfortable with their normal body temperature. It may surprise them. I have a link to one of my Pinterest boards that has some DIY first aid kits for college dorms in it, or just search on Pinterest to find it.  So many options.



  1. Social Life. Let’s talk about social life.  Our children need to understand that the social events that they are heading to college for may not be there at all. How are they going to do with that? How are they going to deal with it? Ask them to think about it now. Ask them how they will handle it. No matter the college policies, also, look, it’s college, there will be parties. Will your child go to them? Will they not? What level are they comfortable with, and so on. With the other tips that I’m sharing here, in mind, do some coaching on the topic. Truly, I mean coaching, have a discussion.  Listen and coach them through different things that could happen. In a Forbes article titled College Students Want to Party: How they Keep Their Social Life This Fall, the author, Stephen M. Gavazzi (I hope I’m saying that correctly) offers a new motto for our students to consider, “study smart, party smart.” It might be worth sharing.


  1. Best Ways to Keep in Touch? If you are going to be a bit more anxious than normal and your child is not the best at communicating with you, come up now with a protocol for communication that works for both of you. Maybe you discuss you send a particular emoji to them, that means, hey, I’m thinking of you, I’m getting a little worried, can you just give me a quick status.  Maybe you’ve already discussed which emojis they can send you back, that let’s you know, hey, yeah, thumbs up, I’m all good, Mom, busy. Have that conversation now. College normally, is a lot for students, this is before COVID-19. Sure, they might be more homesick than usual, and reach out more, or they may be dealing with a lot more and a conversation with their mother may not help at the moment.  Not something to take personally, but have this conversation now.



  1. Talk about the what-ifs at a high-level and when the timing is right talk about what-if. What if their fall looks totally different?  What if the fall semester goes online?  What if you get roomed in a hotel down the street?  What if there are no social activities? Are there any of these things that would make them stay home, even if their college is onsite? Does it impact any scholarships they may have, if they decide not to go to campus? Are there circumstances that would have them not attend at all, even online?  Would they consider a gap year? I’m going to put a link to an episode of “Collegehood Advice” where Katy Oliveira talks about a gap year during COVID-19 with a guest. There is also an article on “Grown and Flown” titled Surprising Ways College Will Look Different This Fall. It is really worth a read, as it is likely you won’t know all of the ways your child’s college will look different until there isn’t enough time to process it out.  Two examples listed in the article: some schools may assign specific showers, sinks or toilets to students, and scheduling may be needed for showering. Some colleges have rented hotels and will be housing students in those to allow more space. So, yeah, be ready for anything. And a quick shout-out to Dale Troy who shared the article from “Grown and Flown” in her “College Parent Support Community” on Facebook.


  1. Nitty gritty medical concerns.  This one I’m going to leave ‘til next week, since I’m not a doctor, and because I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of her new book, I’m going to have Dr. Jill Grimes with me next Friday.  We’re going to discuss specific medical needs and concerns related to COVID-19 on campus. I’m looking forward to chatting with her and to bringing our chat to you! So look for part two of this series, next week!

As always, if you have your own tips, your thoughts or concerns about your child heading back to college you may join our GPS Support Flock and share there, or the Green Popsicle Stick Facebook group.  We can’t wait to chat with you.



The questions I have for you in this episode are: if your child is heading back to campus soon, what are your biggest concerns? Do you have a medical question about your child being on campus in the fall?


Christine? Christine? Christine? Where are you? Do you know about the Stay Home Sisters?  Rebecca Moses, artist, designer and author, has been painting pictures of women who are staying home due to physical distancing and she shares their stories.  Her illustration of me was included recently and I will have a link to her Instragram profile in my show notes.  She’s up to, I believe, 270 as of this recording.  That’s pretty amazing!  Thanks, Rebecca, for all that you do for us.



It is time for a Quick Tip, advice or thoughts from a listener. Today’s Quick Tip is from Katherine, the 5 Kilo Traveller.

Katherine:  In my last tip, I talked about traveling light by wearing your heavy and bulky gear on your flight, and I also briefly mentioned merino wool, or Smartwool. Now, in New Zealand, we have 27 million sheep. That’s six sheep for every New Zealander. I am a huge advocate for the New Zealand wool industry, but I am not sponsored by them. Today’s tip is all about merino wool and Smartwool. Merino comes from a sheep and it has amazing natural qualities. Merino moderates your temperature. It keeps you warm in cold weather, but also keeps you comfortable in hot weather. I’ve worn a long-sleeved merino on a boat in a New Zealand summer to protect against harmful UV rays of the sun, and I’ve not got overheated. Again, I’ve worn multiple merino layers in New York, in winter, and have been comfortable even when I’ve headed into the well-heated shops. That is once I’ve removed my puffer jacket, my coat, my hat, my gloves, my scarf, and every other layer. Merino doesn’t retain smells. I think on the packaging they say it repels odor. This whole odor repelling quality means that you can wear it for several days without it needing laundering. I’ve tested this, but there is a trick to it. You need to hang it up and air it, after wearing. This can be as simple as draping it over a chair.  If you decide to dump it in a pile of clothes, it will still be smelly the next morning, believe me. I’ve tested this. A company I buy merino clothing from, also said that when you have a shower, hang your merino gear in the bathroom.  The steam helps to freshen up the fabric. merino is light and compact. If you compare a cotton sweater or a fleece with a merino sweater, the merino one will be lighter and smaller. Merino is also quick drying. Generally my merino clothing dries overnight. I wash merino by hand or I use a delicates bag if it’s going in the washing machine.  I wear merino from top to toe, literally head scarf, neck, back, tops, pants, socks, and even underwear.  There you have it, my tip for today.  Merino wool or Smartwool is my absolute essential clothing fabric for travelling light.  Happy light travels!


Well my empty nest CEO of Your Life friend, if you enjoyed this episode, I invite you to take a moment to subscribe to this podcast. It is free after all, and subscribing is the best way to be notified right away when I have a new episode. As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that positively impact your life. Psst, my friend... you are amazing!  See ya!


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