Current college students and recent grads weigh in.
by Anne Vaccaro Brady
My daughter’s heading into her junior year of college, so I asked her and her friends, plus other college students and some recent grads, what advice they’d give to incoming college freshman when it comes to packing. This is what they had to say.
Don’t bring too much stuff Dorm rooms are ridiculously small. The suggestion is to bring a few of every kind of clothing item you might want to wear so you’re not without something, but not so much that you can’t fit everything in your dresser and closets.
Personal Necessities A recent grad described these essentials as things you can’t easily get “just anywhere” like prescription medications, allergy-friendly food, retainers, contact lenses, prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, hypoallergenic cosmetics and toiletries, etc.
Shout Color Catcher sheets These prevent colors from bleeding onto all the other clothes in the wash. Enough said.
Waterproof jacket and shoes Not only does it rain on college campuses, it gets muddy, too. Rain boots can also serve as snow boots in some climates. Plus, a stay-dry jacket is critical when attending outdoor events like football and soccer games or concerts that aren’t cancelled because of rain.
Air freshener and/or Febreze Dorm rooms can get smelly, usually with cooking odors, often from down the hall. Colleges rightly classify candles as a fire hazard.
Reusable water bottle Using one is eco-friendly and less expensive than purchasing individual water bottles. And it can hold more than water.
Stamps Sometimes they want to mail a card, maybe even to you.
Toolkit As one student said, “it’s surprising what can be fixed or improved in a dorm room.”
Extra-long Ethernet cable Helpful with spotty wi-fi service, common on campuses.
TV and video game console They’re going to need some type of entertainment. Many colleges provide free cable service.
Laptop case Worth the investment to protect your investment.
School supplies Because it’s not a good idea to show up to class empty-handed.
Backpack My daughter learned the hard way that a big tote bag slung over her shoulder all day could be painful. Note that any backpack needs to fit the new laptop.
Laundry bin To hold dirty laundry instead of throwing it on the floor.
Alarm clock You’re not going to be there to wake them up for class. My son found his cell phone alarm worked just as well and saved space.
Small and long extension cords Dorm rooms generally contain only a few outlets, often placed in inconvenient locations.
Quarters Are necessary if their school still uses coin-operated washers and dryers.
Flip flops for the shower Remember, this isn’t home.
Mirror One for the wall or door (with hanging hardware) because you want your teen to check himself out before he leaves his room.
Plastic stackable crates I know I mentioned these in an earlier post, but several kids suggested them because they have other uses, like a night stand.
Pictures They need some printed memories of life at home. Maybe they’ll even include a family picture with the photos of their friends.
Blender For making smoothies and shakes, ideal for picky eaters who may avoid the dining hall.
Towels More than two, particularly if your student is also an athlete or works out regularly.
Financial items Checkbook, debit card and credit card.
Driver’s license or other photo identification Because not all college IDs include a student’s birthday.
Emergency contacts This list of names and phone numbers should be in her cell phone and on a card in her wallet.
Noise canceling headphones Extremely helpful when the roommates insist on watching TV when your teen is studying.
Extra throw blanket For sitting on top of her bed, on a couch in the lounge, etc.
Dry cleaning sheets These will save a few sweaters.
Extra phone charger Important if your teen tends to lose his.
So there you have it. Three different posts filled with suggestions on what to pack. Don’t be overwhelmed. Look them over with your student, and figure out which things make the most sense, taking into consideration how your teen lives, where she’s going to college and how far she’ll be from home.
Share your suggestions on packing for freshman year in the comments section below.