For those of you whose children are preparing to go away to college this fall, a sense of anticipation is already in the air.

You may have a checklist that you’re following, maybe even a few checklists.

First, there is the list of all the things that you have to buy, all the “stuff” that you need to outfit the student in your family for school. This list has grown since you and I landed on campus a generation ago. Laptop computers have replaced the typewriter, cell phones are the norm and there is no longer a Sunday afternoon line at the pay phone in the lobby. Many dorm beds have gotten longer and skinnier for some unknown reason; check with your school first, but a good percentage of you will have to purchase specially sized sheets to fit these unusually shaped mattresses. The “to-buy” list can get quite lengthy, so you may want to attack at least part of it before it starts to feel like summer is almost over.

Then there is the “to-do” list, or maybe there are two “to-do” lists, one for the head and one for the heart.

The “to-do” list for your head deals with the practicalities of your son or daughter leaving for college. There are insurance issues to be sorted; for instance, you will want to verify that your child, if they are living away from home but a full-time student, will still be covered on your health insurance policy. Almost certainly they will be covered, particularly if they are under 24 and a dependent, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. There may also be property/casualty and/or auto insurance issues, as well as the ever-popular problem of the need to secure your student’s permission if you want to be able to see his or her grades.

The “to-do” list for your heart deals with all the emotional parts of your life, and the connection of those emotions to your child. For instance, you may want to set aside an afternoon for a trip down the memory lane of schools your son or daughter attended, from JK all the way to high-school. Your student may think it is corny, but what about going to visit the very first bus stop from elementary school days, the salon where he or she got a first body-part piercing (just kidding), the field where the first soccer goal was scored – or where the first tears of disappointment over loss were shed?

These may be places your son or daughter never wants to see – or step foot in – for the remainder of his or her life. But there is an equally good chance that these may be places that bring back for your child a flood of meaningful remembrances and, for you, memories that you may want to share one last time before you start to load the trunk – or trailer – for the ride off to school.

This Fourth of July weekend could be a good time to check off the items on this “to-do” list of fond recollections. If you haven’t watched fireworks together as a family for a few years, maybe this is the weekend to do it. You never know what next summer’s Fourth of July will bring; there might be an out-of-town job, a desire to visit old friends from high school or perhaps even a different, even defiant, attitude about even celebrating Independence Day for a country whose warts might be exposed by a freshman year full of new professors and new ways of looking at the world.

In whatever way this Fourth of July works out for you and your child, make certain to soak in the “grand finale” at your firework display of choice, and take a moment to celebrate that you live in a country where such wonderful higher education opportunities are available to any student who is committed to taking advantage of them, no matter his or her race or economic background.

Have a great weekend and a wonderful summer with the current or future college student in your family.

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