Transition Chat: Traveling to College
For so many students across the globe and especially for students enrolling in other countries, going to college means some significant travel to get to and from home. The logistics required of this is the primary focus of this post. We endeavor here to get you thinking and talking about the many elements and challenges of traveling away from home for college. We talk elsewhere about more specifics surrounding transportation while at college, many of the challenges of being so far away from home, and the specific topic of the initial freshman drop-off. For now, we hope these topics will spur some good discussions about transition, starting with this overarching question:
What are the parameters around travel to and from university?
Here are some additional questions to consider:
Have you identified when you need to be at school, including the dates for international or new student orientation programs?
When is it expected that the student will come home? For all school vacations? What will happen over the shorter breaks where travel home is not possible? For example, if going to school in the USA, where will the student spend Thanksgiving, often the first holiday break for first-year students, but, for some, maybe not a long enough break to come home and to deal with jet lag?
Who will purchase the tickets for travel? Who will get the air miles? (If you don’t have air miles accounts, be sure to set them up!)
Alumni Advice: Be sure to purchase round trip tickets with travel insurance. You never know if you might have to switch a flight to come home. Also, some countries require foreign students on visas to have a return ticket.
What is expected of the student when back home? This can mean a lot of different things to various families, but the question is intended to initiate conversation about sleep, rest, relaxation, curfew, chores, spending time with family, etc.
What about unplanned trips home for emergencies? What would constitute an emergency that would necessitate a trip home? It is hard sometimes to contemplate these situations, but it helps later to have anticipated some of them and to have discussed some of the logistics and process behind them.
Have you identified any other dates or holidays or school events (e.g. homecoming, Jan-Plan, spring break, etc) that might impact your travel or require additional planning?
Parent Insight: Be aware that the school’s academic calendar (first day of classes, last day of semester) does not always align with when their flights should be made! From one recent parent, “I scheduled [my daughter’s] return flight based on her school calendar, when in reality she had to get out of the dorm earlier than that.”
This piece is part of a series on “transitioning to college.” We encourage graduating seniors and their parents or guardians to engage in discussion on a weekly basis about these topics. If you have feedback or additional ideas or perspectives to share, please let us know so we can incorporate your thoughts into revisions of our posts.