Surviving the College Drop-Off

The college drop-off.

I’m not going to lie to you, taking a kid to college is hard. It’s a mixture of so many emotions, all coming at you at one time, and it’s challenging.

Recently, we took our daughter back to college for the start of her Sophomore year. Since this wasn’t my first college drop-off, I assumed it would be a lot easier this year. I was wrong.

The college drop-off is hard, for many parents and students.

It was hard. Granted, it wasn’t as hard as it was last year, when there were so many unknowns about what would happen and how we would feel. But, tears were still shed.

The moment when it was time to say goodbye was especially hard. I felt like I was leaving a piece of my heart on a college campus.

Because, I was.

If you listen to my podcast, Thrive the Podcast with Garth and Dara, you know I believe fully in the power of gratitude and how important it is to count your blessings, in almost every situation. You also know I’m a fan of feeling your emotions, in a nonjudgemental way, and allowing them to move through you.

I reminded myself of this as we drove home, and again when we pulled into the driveway, when the tears started to come and showed no sign of stopping. If you’re about to embark on the college drop-off, here are several tips to help you get through it:

Whatever you’re feeling is OK.

The fact that I cried for two hours, after getting back from taking my daughter to college, is perfectly fine. It’s important to remember however you’re feeling is absolutely OK. You don’t need to make yourself feel badly about your feelings, try to downplay your emotions, or hide them. I gave myself permission to mope around for a little while, to release my feelings of sadness, but then nudged myself  forward. Keeping my feelings in wouldn’t have served me well at all. It’s all about releasing and letting go.

Help yourself move forward. 

Whatever you enjoy doing, do it. For me, it’s meditation. After I cried for a little while, I forced myself to go to my meditation room. I was immediately happy I decided to do this. I was surrounded by my beautiful candles, sat on my yoga mat, and did a beautiful meditation. I felt better after just twenty minutes of being there, and I was happy to have this practice to lean on, in good moments as well as challenges. You might like exercise, reading, binge watching Netflix, or talking to your friends. Whatever it is, do it.

Distract yourself.

 My husband made plans for us the evening we returned from dropping our daughter off. He knew I might feel a little sad when we returned home, and knew an evening out with friends would be exactly what I needed. Even though I told him I didn’t want to go out, especially when I was in my robe, walking around the house crying, he didn’t give in. “We already committed,” he said, “And, you’re going. It will be good for you.” He was so right. Find a distraction and lean in. Make plans with your friends, focus on your work, volunteer to help someone else, or clean out your closet. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it will help.

Be grateful.

There are so many reasons to be grateful when taking your kid to college. It might be hard to count your blessings when you’re feeling all the mixed emotions drop-off can bring, but try. When I was meditating, I reminded myself to focus on how blessed I feel to have my daughter at a school where she’s shining, the beautiful life she’s created for herself, and how happy she is. It’s hard to be sad when there are so many blessings about the situation. Feeling grateful, in any situation, is always a way to help yourself feel better.

Today, I woke up feeling happy for my daughter, settled back into my life, and grounded. If you’re about to drop-off a son or daughter to college, you will absolutely get through it. Remember, parenting is hard, so why should the college drop-off be easy? Like most things, you will adjust, settle in to your routine, and create your new normal.

Dara Kurtz is the author of the Amazon best selling book, Crush Cancer, and creator of Crazy Perfect Life. 


  1. Karen on September 3, 2019 at 10:31 am

    You are not alone! It may or may not get a wee bit easier with each years drop off, but don’t fight the tears. Days of tears turn into hours and then life goes on. Tears are good for us. It’s a signal that the new normal can begin. You are blessed to have a husband that knows what’s good for you, he’s a keeper. All the best to your daughter, before you know it she’ll be home for Thanksgiving break.

    • Dara Kurtz on September 3, 2019 at 8:10 pm

      Thank you so much! I totally agree with you, tears are good for us and it’s always good to release our emotions. YES, Jon is a KEEPER! Much love to you, Dara

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