Time to Start Packing for Freshman Year

Here are a few items not often at the top of the list.

by Anne Vaccaro Brady

For some of you, your freshman may be leaving for college in less than a month. I’m not trying to freak you out, just letting you know it’s time to go shopping and start packing.

The college has let you know about the XL (extra long) sheets, and maybe has sent a checklist of what to bring along. But the first time around we discovered a bunch of stuff we’d forgotten or didn’t realize our daughter would need. We made a mad dash, along with all the other families, to the closest discount department store.

If you’re in need of a checklist, take a look at these from Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and the Container Store, which are pretty comprehensive and can be used at similar stores. Also, if space is limited in your vehicle or you’ll be flying your child to college, you can order the items online and pick them up at a store closest to your school. This saves on shipping costs, too.

I plan to put up additional posts this week with advice from other parents, as well as current students and recent college grads. But here’s a start on often forgotten items.

Bed risers These were new to me—plastic footings you can put under the legs of the bed (that’s not bunked or lofted) to give more room underneath for storage—that’s key.

Egg crate foam­ or padded mattress cover Some schools don’t allow the foam because of fire regulations, but your teen will need something to make him comfortable on that well-worn bed.

3M Command Hooks They come in every size and can hold items both heavy and light. Their advantage over other hooks is that they stick to the walls, so your student can avoid creating damaging holes. They also work well on cement block walls. My daughter says the sturdy ones are great for behind a door to hang wet towels and winter or wet jackets.

Dry erase board for the door It doesn’t have to be big, but it allows new friends to leave notes for your teen when she’s out. Don’t forget a dry erase marker, too.

IMG_0917Laundry detergent and dryer sheets This seems obvious, but parents often forget to pack these because they’ve filled the laundry basket with other items.

Fan The college dorm rooms without air-conditioning are usually in the freshmen residence halls. A small room or window fan does the trick. It’s also handy in overheated rooms in winter or a hot day in early spring.

Microwaveable plate, bowl, mug with lid, plus eating utensils and a drinking cup Just like at home, they’ll be snacking in-between meals and late at night, and sometimes reheating leftovers. A bowl for the microwave popcorn will help, too.

Underbed storage containers with lids College dorm rooms are small and closet space scarce, so things like sheets, towels, blankets, etc. are best stowed below the bed. Non-perishable food stores well here, too along with out-of-season clothing.

Hangers Most colleges don’t supply them.

Fun Tak You might already be familiar with this one. Better than tape because it doesn’t remove wall paint.

Desk or room lamp The fluorescent tube light over the desk is often unappealing, and may be the only light in the room. So pick up a table lamp for the desk or a pole lamp for the room.

Lock box The safest place to store jewelry, the checkbook, credit cards and other valuables. If it’s a combination lock, make sure you keep a copy of the combination at home because your teen will forget it at least once.

This is just a start. I’ll share suggestions from other parents in the next post.

Feel free to share your suggestions for packing for freshman year in the comments section below. 

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6 Responses to Time to Start Packing for Freshman Year

  1. Debbie Bunnell says:

    Just wanted to make the comment that it might be better to wait until you get into the dorm room before you buy some of these things. My daughter’s dorm room didn’t have a dresser but had a captains bed (drawers attached under the bed) so the bed risers and under bed storage would not have worked.

    • Good point, Debbie. Just make sure you know whether there’s a store nearby where you can pick up these things. Or, as my husband reminded me, you can always ship out later what you don’t get on move-in day.

  2. Linda White Tartaglia says:

    Chargers, Cords & Sticks.
    Chargers (cell, camera, etc.), cords (printer cable, ethernet, coaxial) and memory sticks.

  3. Laurie Glockenberg says:

    Thank you, this is so helpful! On the subject of cords…there is a tube you can purchase to keep all the electric wires together and in place. Just a suggestion for laundry…there are sheets now that have laundry soap .You throw the sheet in with the laundry and do not have to lug soap. Also, not sure if anyone mentioned cleaning spay and paper towels.Always needed this just to go over dorm furniture.

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