Starting college is like re-entering life with a blank slate. New friends, new classrooms, new studies-and of course, a new living space. And, while the summer before sending your young adult off to college is an exciting time, it can also be an overwhelming one.
Among the most stressful aspects of preparing for college is making sure that your student will have everything that they need to ensure their success for the upcoming school year. Below is a list of the top ten indispensible items for every college-bound kid:
1- A Laptop: Though this is perhaps the most expensive item on the list of college must-haves, in this day and age, it is practically a necessity for all college students to have access to a laptop. Depending on your student’s intended course of study and on the recommendations of their college, the brand, sophistication, and price of the laptop you choose can vary immensely. For example, there are many portable computers available for under $200 that come with all of the basic word processing, digital media, and internet surfing capabilities. On the other end of the spectrum, if your student is pursing a major that requires a highly sophisticated machine, such as engineering or graphic design, a bit more research-and money-may be play in to the decision of which kind of laptop to buy.
In any case, if the often weighty price tag on laptops is a concern for your family, most colleges have laptop rental programs, or conveniently located computer labs on campus that your student might be able to use. Make sure to inquire about these options in advance, and if your student is enrolled in classes that are known to require extensive use of computers, it would be a good idea to have them e-mail their professors about the best way to go about obtaining a laptop and the necessary software.
2- A Shower Caddy: If your student is living in the dorms, or in an apartment with a shared bathroom and limited storage space, a shower caddy will be their best friend. These little totes can cost as little as a couple of dollars, and can be used to transport shampoo bottles, body wash, tooth brushes, soaps, combs, and other assorted toiletries.
Best bet: most students prefer plastic, open-topped shower caddies to fabric or closed-top totes, as the former prevent the growth of mold on their humid contents, and are much easier to clean.
3- Flip Flops for the Shower: Going along with the theme of #2, unless your student is the only occupant of his or her bathroom, it is advisable for them to take the habit of wearing flip flops in to dorm showers. This prevents the spread of various fungal diseases native to public showers, as well as serves as a buffer between your student’s food and whatever residual unpleasantness may have been left by previous bathers.
4- An Alarm Clock: 8am classes aren’t as easy to wake up for as one may think. Same goes for 11am classes.
5-Storage Boxes: It’s incredible how many papers, trinkets, and mementos students tend to accumulate over the course of the school year. Equip your college kid with various sizes of stackable, compact, and easily storable boxes so that they can maintain their possessions in a relatively organized, dust-free environment.
6-A Planner: Often available through the school, planners are highly useful in keeping your student’s busy life in order. Of course, blackberries and computerized calendars can fulfill the same function, but in many peoples’ experiences, having a pen-and-paper schedule is often the most reliable method of keeping track of your student’s time.
7- Several Pairs of Socks and Underwear: Socks and Underwear are almost always the limiting reagent in the “when to do laundry” equation. Jeans can be worn multiple times- socks, not so much.
8- Snacks For the Dorm Room: While Cafeteria food might be tempting, and unlimited meal plans available, it isn’t always convenient to rely on the school’s food suppliers for quick breakfasts on the way to class or midnight snacks. Opt for healthy and on-the-go style snacks, such as nutrition bars high in protein and fiber, fruit snacks, individually packaged cereals, or better yet, yogurts, if your student has access to a refrigerator.
9-Pictures, Posters, and Other Room Decorations from Home: Separation from family, friends, and their usual surroundings for the first few weeks of college can be a difficult and lonely experience for Freshmen. Seeing the friendly faces of the people who care about them will help ease these all-too common feelings of homesickness.
-Get creative: Pillow cases, Mugs, and Decorative frames with photos of family and friends printed on them make great graduation and “going away to college” presents.
10- A Favorite Stuffed Animal: Yes, your Freshman might be old enough to leave home, but that doesn’t mean he or she is old enough to part from Mr. Fluffy.