Tips for Parents

Top Five Must-Have Items for Back-to-College

Along with your acceptance letter, your college probably sent a several-page packing list: a cell phone or phone card, a laptop and printer; if it’s cold, some sweaters; if it’s warm, some short sleeves. You’ve talked to your roommate and decided who will bring the TV, the DVD player, the fan and the beanbag chair. You have your flip-flops for the shared bathroom and durable laundry bag to keep your cloths off the floor.

But don’t close that suitcase just yet. Here are 11 not-so-obvious suggestions for your college checklist.

  • Extra Sheets. At school, you will likely find that one set of bed sheets (twin extra-long, in most cases) is not enough. The odds of someone throwing up in your bed quintuple when you get to college, but even for the straightest of the straight-edge there are other considerations. Bed sheets hung up on the wall or ceiling can add color to a room that you’re not allowed to paint. They make great togas. And, in a pinch, they are surprisingly good laundry bags if bundled up hobo-style.
  • Pre-Prepared, Non-Perishable Food. For late-night hunger emergencies, you’ll need a stash of food that you don’t need to cook or that will never go bad. Our favorites are popcorn, granola bars, peanut butter, and ramen noodles. For the health-conscious, whole wheat crackers, rice cakes, and dried fruit are good alternatives. Bring a water filter if you’re not fond of tap or if it’s unsafe to drink in your college area.
  • Sports Water Bottle. To cut back on beverage expenses, bring a sturdy, plastic water bottle to fill up at drinking fountains or from your filter. Bring it to class or to the gym—or use it to smuggle soft drinks out of the dining hall and back to your dorm room.
  • A Bank Account. If you’ve never had a bank account before, college is a great time to start managing your expenses. Look for a bank that’s close to campus (there might even be a bank on campus, and it probably has special student rates). Also remember that a bank with a branch back home will let your parents deposit checks directly into your account instead of mailing them to you. If you already have a bank account at home but there’s no on-campus branch, you might consider switching banks or opening an additional account to avoid ATM fees.
  • Earplugs. Dorms are loud. There may be parties down the hall or your roommate may play Halo while listening to Pantera. Even if your room is relatively quiet, earplugs can help you keep your concentration while your next door neighbor does jumping jacks. Bring a pair as a just-in-case sleep or study aid.

For more tips and ideas, visit 11 Things You Never Knew You Needed to Survive in College.

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