Tips for Parents

The Essential Care Package: What to Send to Your College Student

When I would walk to my freshman year dorm room holding a package I had just retrieved from the campus post office, heads would peek out into the hallway as I walked by. “Did your Mom send you a care package again?” “You got cookies?” “Those M&M ones?” “Can we have some?!” My Mom’s cookies became famous and highly anticipated in 2-West. I was fine parting with them because honestly I felt sorry for my hallmates who did not receive such good cookies in the mail, if anything at all, from their parents and close family.

It meant a lot to me knowing that, even though I was a few hundred miles away and didn’t call as much as I should have, my mother still took time out of her day to make mine special. College is stressful: Not only adjusting to a new environment and for most students living on your own for the first time but tests, essays, sports, extracurricular activities, jobs…it can be overwhelming at times. Just letting your student know you care and are supportive can be all someone needs to grind through that paper and barrel their way through finals week. Sending a care package is an amazing way to let your stressed son or daughter know you’re thinking about them, that you support their hard work, and to give them a little slice of home, a place where in-class essays do not exist. Here are some creative, affordable ideas for things to send your son or daughter when they need you the most.

Sweets and Treats. It may be cliché to send cookies or other treats, but they’re still the favorite. Especially when moving to a new dorm or starting out freshman year, they’re a great way to meet new people — so long as your student doesn’t want to keep them all to themselves. Even if you are not the most skilled baker, find a favorite from a local bakery or candy store. What’s important is to give them a treasured piece of home.

Holiday Items. What says home more than family holidays? Especially if your student has to stay a school during holidays because of distance and short breaks, send them just a little token of holiday spirit. I got a tiny, tacky plastic Christmas tree from my parents that I’ve kept til this day.

Coffee and Tea. Caffeine is a staple of the college student diet, along with hot pizza and cold pizza. Particularly around mid-terms or finals, a few packets of instant coffee or their favorite tea will help them get through long days and even longer nights. Yes, college students should do a better job at organizing their time, and pulling all-nighters should not be encouraged, but be honest — how organized were you at 18?

Gift Cards. Above all, college students probably just want spending money, but if you do not want that going to the next kegger, fun gift cards are an excellent substitute. Send them gift cards to favorite restaurants like Subway or Starbucks and they will love you for it — and you can be sure they’re using it for parent-approved purposes.

Joseph Gustav is a guest blogger for Pounding the Pavement, an up-and-coming outlet for career-oriented expression. An ambitious freelancer, Mr. Gustav also contributes articles about completing your high school diploma at home for Guide to Career Education.