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10 Incredible Ideas for Writing Open When Letters for Your College Freshman

Open when letters are such a meaningful and thoughtful gift to give your college freshman. These letters can help your son or daughter transition to college life and being away from home.

Do you have a son or daughter headed off to college this year?

College is a time of change and growth in a young person’s life.

This may be the first time your child has lived away from home for any length of time and even the most independent students may feel homesick from time to time.

Or maybe you’re having a hard time adjusting and struggling to let go as summer is winding down and college move-in gets closer.

You want to stay connected to your teen while supporting them by letting them know you’ll always be there for them no matter what.

Writing open when letters can provide your child with words of encouragement, advice, and support when they need it most.

And honestly, you’ll feel better getting all those feelings and thoughts down on paper too!

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Why I Wrote Open When Letters for My Daughter

mom and daughter standing arm in arm in front of bed in college dorm room

Every child is different and needs different things from you as a parent.

Even if you think you’ve raised them exactly the same, each child has their own unique personality.

Writing a bunch of open when letters wasn’t something I considered for either of my sons when they each left home for college.

However, I did write them each one letter telling them all the things I wanted them to know during this new journey.

I also bought them each a Wanderer bracelet with the coordinates of our home and put it inside their letters.

Then after making the bed in their dorm rooms (because that’s just one thing that we moms have to do for our college kids during move-in) I secretly slipped the letter and bracelet under the pillow for them to find and read later.

Fast forward two years and my daughter Emma was getting ready for her freshman year.

She was nervous and anxious about all the changes coming her way during this transition.

Even though she choose a school only 30 minutes from home, she was still feeling overwhelmed.

I had planned to write her a letter and give her a Wanderer bracelet just like I had done with both of her brothers before.

But I felt like Emma may need a bit more or maybe it was me since she was my last one leaving the nest.

Either way, I knew that writing her open when letters was something that she would appreciate.

I wanted to let her know I was always there for her and help ease those feelings of anxiety or homesickness when she was alone in her dorm.

Where to Start When Writing Open When Letters

open note card with scalloped edge and pen on table

First, you’ll need to decide when you want to give your son or daughter the open when cards.

Will you send them out through the mail for your student?

If so, then plan to have them written ahead of time so when they’re dealing with something you can have the letter ready to pop in the mailbox.

Or would you prefer to give them a stack of letters as a gift when they leave for college?

I decided to write 10 open when letters and give them to Emma all at one time as a gift on the day she moved into her dorm room.

This way she would already have the letter right there and when she was feeling a particular way she could grab a note and open it.

What to Write in a Letter for Your College Student

three colored folded note cards next to white envelopes on table

College is a time of new adventures and excitement for freshmen.

Your student is leaving home, meeting new people, and starting a new chapter in their lives.

Open when letters are meant to be read at a specific time or during a particular situation.

When you begin to write these letters know that your words will be a great source of comfort, inspiration, and guidance.

Write in your own voice and let your personality come through…just write as you would talk to them.

Be positive and encouraging so you can help them through the tough times.

Use humor or share stories of family experiences to put a smile on their face.

Instead of just saying “I love you” tell them why you love them and what you admire about them.

10 Open When Letter Topic Ideas

open scalloped edge note card with pen on table next to stack of notes

I grabbed a set of colorful note cards and started writing words of encouragement for my girl.

In each note, I wrote about a different topic or feeling she could be experiencing while away from home.

You know your child and you’ll know best what they need from you in a motivational letter so just speak from your heart.

I knew Emma would need words of support and advice so I focused on those areas.

ten white envelopes with open when and a topic written on the outside

Here is the list of topics I wrote for Emma:

  • Open When You Are Feeling Stressed
  • Open When You Miss Marley (her dog)
  • Open When You Need Encouragement
  • Open When You Miss Us
  • Open When You Need a Study Break
  • Open When You Are Feeling Anxious
  • Open When You Go to Your 1st College Class
  • Open When You Are Feeling Insecure
  • Open when You are Feeling Sad
  • Open Now

More Letter Starter Ideas

Think about what your student may need and try to address those needs in your letters.

Here are some additional ideas:

  • Open when you’re feeling homesick
  • Open when you’re feeling overwhelmed
  • Open when you’re feeling lost
  • Open when you’re feeling happy
  • Open when you’re feeling sad
  • Open when you’re feeling confused
  • Open when you’re feeling loved
  • Open when you need a laugh
  • Open when you’re feeling proud
  • Open when you need some advice
  • Open when you want to share a memory

I found these fun downloadable 4×6 open when labels that you can printout and attach to your own envelopes.

Or this set is great and comes with stickers and envelopes.

And if you’re really struggling with what to say in your letter this set of inspirational quote cards would be an excellent idea too.

Small Gifts to Give When Your Child Leaves for College

small gifts laying on table to go with each open when letter

In addition to a letter college students may appreciate a small gift.

Gift cards are a perfect small present to add to your letter.

A gift card to a favorite fast food place with “open when you’re hungry” letter.

Or maybe stick $10 in an envelope marked “open when you run out of cash”.

I ordered Emma a Wanderer bracelet with our home coordinates just like I had for her brothers.

But when I was online shopping I found second one that was perfect for her.

Emma is pretty attached to our dog Marley so knew she’d love the paw print bracelet too.

In addition to the bracelets, I found a few little inexpensive presents that coordiated with some of the letter topics I wrote for Emma.

I bought two cute little wood signs with motivational quotes from Home Goods.

The tiny signs are an ideal size to sit on a small desktop shelf.

The silver beaded fidget anxiety ring is from Amazon and is also available in gold. The ring is something Emma had mentioned wanting previously.

And who doesn’t love a sweet treat especially when studying hard late at night?

10 open when notes with gifts and pillow with dog face on it laying on table

Once I finished writing all of the open when letters, I placed them along with the small gifts in a pretty decorated gift box.

There was one special gift that we gave Emma with a letter that read “open now”.

Can you guess which one it was?

Emma holding pillow of dog in dorm room

I think she liked it!

I hope you’re inspired to write open when letters for your college student to help them transition to this new journey they’re embarking on.

And big hugs to you as I know this is a bittersweet time for you!

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collage of product images for open when letters and gifts

Sources: pink note cards | gray note cards | open when stickers | beaded fidget ring | “You’re Amazing” sign | motivational quote blank notebook | Wanderer bracelet | set of mini inspirational cards | set of two cube signs | “You Got This” sign

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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