Why Sending That Last Kid Off to College Hurts the Most

Susan Poole
5 min readAug 28, 2020

And a few observations about boys vs. girls in terms of preparing for school.

Photo by Mateusz Stępień on Unsplash

Goodbyes are terrible. Especially long ones. But I’ve just survived another college move-in day — barely I must add.

This particular send-off has been the toughest as now our nest is empty. For years, our house has been the center of endless activity. The vibrancy of having three children brought boundless energy into our home, and the revolving door of their friends in and out of our basement, our backyard, and our fridge has come to an abrupt halt.

I’m mourning the loss of it all and have a serious case of ENS (Empty Nest Syndrome)—worse than any PMS I’ve ever experienced).

I’ve found comfort in reading other online pieces about letting go as your kids fly the coop — many of my fellow writers have figured out a way to read my mind. It’s shocking how similar many of our journeys are, and I’m grateful to read that I’m not alone in struggling through the range of emotions I’m feeling right now.

Despite the parallels leading up to a college drop-off, there have been plenty of unique differences — even within my own family. I’m not sure whether these differences fall along gender lines, or maybe birth order, but getting our youngest ready to go — our only son — was entirely different than preparing for his sisters’ departures. Here are some illustrations of what I mean:


As soon as my daughters decided where they were going to college, they joined Facebook groups where they could meet potential roommates. They both spent hours scouring through photos and profiles in order to make the best decision about who to live with freshman year. My oldest ended up in a quad with three other girls who already knew each other from high school. It could have been a recipe for disaster but ended up being a great fit. Her sister was leery of taking a chance with someone she’d only met online and decided to room with a coworker form our hometown. That turned out to be the disaster, and she switched rooms after first semester.

Susan Poole

Mother, lawyer, nonprofit executive, breast cancer survivor, and aspiring author. Recently left her day-job to write about topics that she’s passionate about.