The Best Gift I Didn’t Expect to Give My College Freshman

Of all the stuff my college freshman will pack for his first year, this item, “the best gift I didn’t expect to give” is not on any list. It is not sage advice or a heartfelt letter (though I am trying on both those fronts), no, the gift I didn’t expect came to me on a whim.


As parents, we spend these last few months with our teenager, envisioning everything about their new experience and of course comparing it with our own. Will they like the food, I hope they have good roommates, did they sign up for the right classes, should I pack a first aid kit, all the stuff that keeps you awake at night.

I started to think about how different our children are from when we went to college – you know the stone ages, pre-cell phone, pre-social media. As much as I enjoy these modern inventions I do also feel dismayed at what this next generation is missing. We (the dinosaurs) spent time in person, not on-line, we met people easily and engaged more readily because we had no choice. When I think of dorm life, I think of that giant, crazy, loud, fun, slumber party of a hallway that makes me smile today!

circa 1985 Aquinas Hall, Providence College, my friends

And that is when it hit me, the very best gift I could give my college freshman is a door stop.


Not even a new door stop, but one from the house that I no longer need. I was going to wrap it and hide it in his luggage but instead I decided to tell him  about it.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: “I’m giving you this door stop for your dorm room.”

Him: “Okaaayyy?????”

Me: “No seriously, I want you to use this when you are hanging out in the room. I want your door to be open for people walking by.  An open door is the first step in saying, “come on in”.  You see, you don’t have to be social anymore, you can socialize with your past every minute of every day.  An open door says, welcome, and let’s new people come in.

(He hadn’t interrupted or rolled his eyes so I kept going…) Back in the day, we didn’t have fancy doors that slam shut and have finger print entry.  The best part of living in a dorm was wandering down the hallway and seeing who else was hanging out, because everyone’s door was wide open.”

Him: “That’s not a bad idea, I’ll take it.”

Photo courtesy of UMB Housing Office

The conversation ended there but as you can imagine, like every parent whose child is moving on,  I had so much more to say.  Reminders to repeat for the thousandth time, safety to instill, wisdom I hoped I had passed on, but for today I will treasure the idea that he will use his door stop and be open.  It’s the best gift I can give my college freshman.



About LB Living Better

Lisa Bates has a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology, Certification to teach Behavioral Sciences and a degree in Business Administration. From school administrator and non-profit executive, to teacher, coach, counselor and mom, Lisa has extensive experience, knowledge and training working with children from toddlers to teenagers. Currently, Lisa owns and operates LB Living Better an organizational and educational services business. Lisa has just released her first book, Barbies in the Horse Bin, Living Better with Organized Children and she is a seasoned, energizing, humorous, workshop presenter with extensive experience. As a mother of three teenagers including twin boys, Lisa maintains her sanity by writing, travelling and playing with her dogs. Read more about Lisa Bates at www.lblivingbetter.com or contact her at lisabates@lblivingbetter.com.

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