Top Ten Necessary College Items
Don’t Leave Home Without
For many parents, back to school time is a happy occasion, freeing your home from the ravages of bored children who have run out of things to occupy their time a month earlier. However, for some parents, it’s a little bit of a heartbreaker as they prepare to send their babies off to the unsupervised wasteland of the college dorm.
No matter how ready most parents think they are, they’re likely pretty unprepared for how difficult it will actually be to let their child go off on their own. Of course, the readiness of their child comes into question. Are they prepared to be responsible for themselves? Can they balance their newfound freedom with the rigors of higher education? Is there enough supervision? Too much? Can an eighteen-year-old kid (or younger) handle what’s about to happen?
For the most part, these questions are unanswerable. At some point, the parents will have to just give their children the wings to fly and trust that they’ve instilled the right values in them. There is no such thing as being prepared enough for a new experience. However, there are certain steps that parents can take to ensure that their children are properly equipped for the college experience.
Don’t Leave Home Without…
- Laptop – This is a gimme. Of course, your child is going to need a way to do their schoolwork; papers are a professor’s favorite form of torture for most college freshmen. There are economical and affordable options to properly outfit your student with the best tech. Keep in mind, they don’t have to have the top of the line. A notebook computer with WiFi capability, an ethernet port, and a quality word processing program should be good enough to get them through.
- Office Supplies – Make sure your kids have plenty of highlighters, pens, notebooks, and assorted office supplies to get them through a semester. This way they’re not having to shell out the money to buy them in the third week of school when they’re still basking in the glory of highlighting every other sentence in their texts.
- Mini Fridge – Some colleges allow students to bring their own refrigerator and some allow the students to rent them from the university, but either way, they need one. Unless you want to keep loading money on your child’s debit card because they’re swiping it every time they get thirsty to the tune of $1-3, it’s a college dorm room essential.
- Linens – Most college mattresses are an XL Twin bed, so they’re going to need special sheets. They’re available at almost any box store that has a college dorm display and they’re pretty inexpensive. Unless you want your teenage son coming home for Thanksgiving with hives from unwashed sheets, pick up a couple sets. They will also need a good comforter or quilt, a mattress topper like an egg crate, and a good pillow. Sleep is important for cognitive function, so make sure they have all the tools to get some good sleep.
- Rolled Quarters – College dorms often have coin operated washing machines and dryers. In the day and age where the debit card rules any and all financial transactions, kids aren’t going to have change. This means one of two things; they’re going to bring their laundry home for their parents or else it’s not going to get done and they’re going to smell a little funky. Give them a couple rolls of quarters and walk them through the clothes washing process beforehand.
- Microwave – Once again, colleges may have rules about how a microwave is obtained but it’s a good thing to have. Microwave popcorn, cup o’ noodles, and hot pockets are gourmet items for most college students so give them a way to heat the stuff up. Dining halls have operating hours and your child needs an option if they miss those hours.
- Shower Shoes – While the idea of a shared shower area may sound like an adventure to your son or daughter, plantar warts and foot fungus are not. Get a durable pair of flip-flops or sliders for them to take to the shower. Avoid potential infections and grossness with a good pair of shoes.
- Favorite Products – If your child is used to certain products, send them off with a basket full of them. Favorite shampoo and conditioner, body wash, loofah, face cleanser, and toothpaste all can get super expensive on a part-time job salary. Give your student a little bit of a leg up with some drug store essentials as well; allergy meds, pain relievers, and cold medicine will be super helpful.
- Preloaded Debit Card – A lot of parents like to hand their students a handful of cash to get them through the hard times, but don’t. A teenager sees cash as carte blanche and will blow through it within the first few days. They may do the same with a preloaded debit card, but it will be a lot easier to refill than a cash hoard.
- Touches From Home – Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, your teenager is going to miss home quite a bit in the early months. Send them off with a couple simple touches from homes like a favorite throw, familiar DVDs, and plenty of photos. It may not sound like much, but for a homesick kid, it will mean the world.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Before you load up the car and drop your child off at school, grab a handful of tissues, as you’re probably going to need them. It’s going to hurt, both of you, but it will get better over time and you’ll rest easier knowing that they’re, at least, prepared.