If you are preparing to send your first or only child off to college, you are entering the’ frantic’ stage as the departure date looms. There is so much to do and think about, not to mention the emotional upheaval for both parents and child. I have a wise sister-in-law who once told me “roots and wings”. Those two words sum up our job as parents. Give them roots, but also the wings to strike out on their own. If we can do both, we’ve done our job.
Here is a checklist of dorm room must-haves and other necessary items to help you focus on the tasks at hand:
You will have a million ‘to do’ lists. Let this College Packing List app help. Free for the rest of the summer. Available for iPhones & iPads.
Make sure your student has seen the doctor for a physical and the dentist. If you couldn’t get to it, make sure you schedule appointments for Thanksgiving or Christmas breaks.
Here are the basic skills you should send your college student off with:
Basic cooking lessons in case the dorm has a kitchen. This cookbook is simple and is well reviewed – College Cooks: Simple Ingredients, Easy Recipes, Good Tasting Food. $14.29.
Give your student basic laundry lessons so everything they own doesn’t turn pink in the washer.
Give a crash course in basic finances – creating a budget, paying bills online, and figuring out how much will they need are all important. Your student should have a checking account, a debit card, and possibly a credit card in their own name.
If your child lived at home for high school, they might rely on you for much of their time management. Now is the time to stress the importance of establishing routines, getting enough sleep, allowing enough time for studies and creating a good balance in their lives.
Safety & security are very important. Students should learn about the safety/security programs and crime levels on their campus. Urge your child to use the safe rides/escort programs that are available – home from parties, and home from the library after dark. They need to listen to their safety intuitions and get out of risky situations. Thefts in dorms are very common so advise your child not to bring valuables to college, and keep cash and credit cards hidden. They should never leave any drink unattended at parties – not even a Diet Coke. If it got out of your sight, get a new one.
Most of us wish we could repeat college armed with what we know about all the possibilities college offers. My husband took one of our daughters on a tour of his college. He was amazed at all his college had to offer that he was totally unaware of when he was a student there. Urge your student to get involved, try different things, take courses out of their comfort level (pass/fail, just in case!).
Less is more. Pack light. You can send them a package after they settle in and see what they really need. We all remember the kid who arrived at college with so much ‘stuff’ that the closet overflowed and the roommates rolled their eyes.
For specific items to bring to college see our earlier article on moving into a dorm.
If you can’t get to every life lesson, this book will cover it for you. It has the lowdown for every student from move-in day to graduation.
Stuff Every College Student Should Know. Under $8.00
If you have a budding interior decorator, check out the LeighDeux website that two college moms started to cheerfully furnish college dorm rooms. They donate a portion of their profits toward scholarships for female undergraduates.
Tell your child that you are there if they need you, but remember, it’s their experience, not yours, so don’t pry! Good luck! It will be all right, we promise!
*This article has been updated for accuracy, September 2017
Header Photo Credit NPS Photo / Kent Miller