Moving Your Child Into College When You’re Divorced

college move in when divorced
Stacey Freeman

By Stacey Freeman | Jul 24th, 2019

College move-in day is an ordeal — mentally and physically. On a physical level, it often entails waking up before the sun rises, driving however long is necessary to get to the school, carrying your child’s luggage around campus and inevitably up a bunch of steps, unpacking said luggage, and sprucing up your child’s dorm room. And that is all before you have to say your goodbyes.

As tricky as moving day is when you are married though, it doubles when you are divorced because now, in addition to having to do all of these chores, you face having to do them all yourself. I should know. As a divorced mother, I embarked on the experience of moving my daughter into college for the first time last fall. Now, I will have to do that again twice this coming one because my younger daughter is following in her sister’s footsteps.

The experience of moving my daughter into her dorm was, as I had anticipated, grueling. But I am here to say it is doable. I am living proof of that. The reason? Even though I am divorced, I wasn’t alone in the process. The truth is I had assistance and a lot of it. When it comes to moving children into college, all hands must be on deck, but what I found was that it doesn’t matter whose hands they are. Meaning, you don’t need the help of your ex-spouse to move your child into school, just a little help in general.

Spoiler alert: moving my daughter into college last fall was a success story. Yes, I woke up at 4 a.m., drove to my daughter’s school, and helped her decorate her dorm room, all without the presence of my ex-husband. But I can’t say I moved my daughter into college solo. My two younger children were very cooperative that day. They helped bring up their sister’s luggage and unpack. Also, they offered moral support, with unwavering optimism that we would accomplish our goal of sending her off to college both happy and in an organized way. (Almost as significant, they made a coffee run for me, which was very much needed and appreciated that day!)

This fall, I will be moving two daughters into college, again without the help of their dad. My ex lives in Asia and won’t be in the States at that time. Yes, that complicates moving day because, while I had two children to help me last year, now I will only have my youngest with me. Still, I am not worried. My course of action will be to ask extended family or friends for assistance should I determine I need it. Although my ex will not be there, I won’t have to go it alone.

As a divorced woman, I have found that it is OK to ask for help, and there is no shame in doing so. Divorce is larger than any of us. We cannot always go through it by ourselves, nor should we have to (or want to). Little things add up when you are a single parent. The occasion of moving my daughter into college is no exception.

Moving into college is a milestone for parents as much as it is for children. To grow, we must face it head-on, including the challenges that come with it. I had to overcome the hurdle of moving my daughter into school without the help of her dad, and her siblings had to step in as if they were adults. They did willingly and graciously, making an experience that could have been unpleasant a positive one for all of us. Because as much as a divorce can pull a family apart, it can also bring a family closer together.

Stacey Freeman

Stacey Freeman

Stacey Freeman is a New York City-based writer, lifestyle editor at, and the founder and managing director of Write On Track.


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