Here is What You Do Not Want to Leave at Home When Going Away to College

What You Really Need to Pack for CollegeCredit:

Ah, high school graduation.  This milestone in a child’s life marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.  The final year of high school is a stressful one-taking the SAT one last time, applying to colleges, trying to get scholarships, financial aid and loans, and saying good-bye to your friends is an emotional roller coaster.

And then all at once, the acceptance letters arrive in the mail, the cap and gown senior portrait is framed and hanging in a place of pride in your home, and you have to start thinking about shopping for the dorm.

Stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target and Kohl’s can spot the parents of high school seniors a mile away.  Armed with gift cards and graduation checks, these unknowing people read the glossy circulars, hold the checklists supplied by the stores in their hands, and fill one basket after another with necessities that you may not really need.

As the parent of a college student who is about to finish her freshman year, I will share with you the things that you need for the dorm are not found on those lists. 

When It Rains, It Pours

When your child moves into the dorm on a hot August afternoon, rainy days are not on your mind. Tee shirts, shorts and flip flops are what you are wearing as you schlep one carton after another into your child’s dorm room. 

But, come the first spell of rainy weather, you child is going to need some rain boots and an umbrella!  I distinctly remember my daughter calling me and asking us to bring her rain boots on our next trip to visit her.

I asked her if she also wanted an umbrella, but she did not.  Future phone calls and getting soaking wet during the long walk back to her dorm room changed her mind.

Pack a Medicine Cabinet and a First Aid Kit

There is nothing worse than the first phone call home and you hear your child say, “Mommy, I’m sick.”  You want to run and be by her side, but you cannot be because she is too far away.  So the next best thing is to make sure you leave your child with a medicine cabinet of her own. Your child may not have access to a big drug store and may feel too sick to go to the store on campus.

Even though she may protest that you are being overprotective, it is better to have the following sitting unopened on a shelf than to hear your child in dire straits and in need of something she cannot obtain.

What medicine should you pack for your child?

Pain reliever (Tylenol, Advil)

Bandaids in assorted sizes


Pepto Bismol


Topical pain reliever (Bengay)

Cough medicine


Sore throat medication

Eye drops

Ear drops

In addition, an ace bandage, a thermometer, and several boxes of tissues should be packed and ready for them to use when they need it.

While this is not a medical supply, you should also pack a supply of plastic bags to line a trash pail in the event of a stomach virus.  

A Basic First Aid Kit is a Must Have in the Dorm

Johnson & Johnson All Purpose First Aid Kit
Amazon Price: $10.99 $8.09 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 7, 2014)
This kit contains an assortment of 140 different items your child may need whens/he is living away from home. It includes a first aid guide.

Extra Phone Chargers

What happens when your child’s phone charger breaks and her roommate and she do not have the same phone? If she does not have her own transportation, a charger has to be bought and sent to her in the mail.

Buy one or two extras to pack away because you know it is going to break if you did not invest in a back up.

Portable Sewing Kit

A stitch in time!

Portable Sewing Kit for CollegeCredit: sewing is a lost art. I know many mothers who hire people out to sew on the daughter’s Girl Scout badges, or if they get extra busy, they hot glue them to their daughter’s vest or sash. Hemming is done at the tailor’s or else pants and sleeves are simply rolled up.

However, being able to stitch a ripped seam, sew on a button and patch up a tear are life skills that college students need to know.  Keeping a small portable sewing kit that will fit in a desk drawer will help college students fix those emergency repairs that happen while away at school.

Portable Hand Vacuum

Dust Buster for the DormCredit:

To be honest, my daughter and I argued about her bringing a portable hand vacuum to school. She said she would not need one and I, the knowing mother, said that she would.

I cannot tell you how many times she had to borrow a vacuum to clean up her room!  This was especially true when her sorority big sister dusted her dorm room with glitter.

When she moves into an apartment next August, one of the things she will be taking with her is a portable vacuum.  It will come in handy when she and her three friends have to tidy up the place.


Another Cleaning Option

Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Bagless Handheld Vacuum, SD20005RED
Amazon Price: $39.99 $24.16 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 7, 2014)
Bright red and compact, this bagless cordless vacuum vacuum is the right size and price for a small dorm space.

Miscellaneous Extras

These little things really add up in the overall cost in going to college when you have to pick them up at the last minute at full cost.

Flashlight-What if the lights go out or you are walking home from the library late at night?  A flashlight will help you in the dark.

Detergent Pods-Today’s college student loves the portability of detergent pods so they do not have to cary the entire bottle down to the laundry room.

Feminine Products-You don’t want to be caught without a few extra boxes of these.

Personal Hygiene Items-Extra toothbrushes, soap, deodorant, mouthwash, oral hygiene rinse, dental floss are things both your child and her roommate will be grateful to have on hand.

Hangers-Your teen will go shopping, so extra hangers to put their new clothes away neatly are needed.

Can Opener-Unless everything you buy is a pull-tab, this item will come in handy when you are hungry!

Be sure to pack all of these things when your child leaves for college!