I have had two kids in college for over three years now. I know there are things they need and don't need. We have experienced dorm life and apartment life. While both are very different, the college student needs are very similar in dorm life and apartment life.
Basically, this is home away from home! Your student needs to feel at home where he is at while being very independent.
While I had a pretty good idea on what a college needs, I polled some of my favorite college students, mainly my daughters and their roommates/best friends. They had some great insight on what a college student really needs and what makes life easier. Three of them have been in college for three years now so they have a pretty good handle on things that are needed.
You might read some of this list and think "My kid doesn't need that". Some of these things are more comfort items than needs, but your kid needs to feel comfortable at college or you are going to get some really sad phone calls. Your college student also needs to be independent and not running home every weekend for you to do their laundry!
What Does Your College Student Really Need?
1. Food, water, kitchen supplies, dorm fridge, and a toaster oven/microwave.
2. A tool kit with a small selection of screws and fasteners. Teach them how to use it too.
3. School Supplies and Tape. Just like high school, they will need notebooks, binders, pens, pencils, paper clips, a calculator, etc. They will also need tape like scotch, masking, packaging, and duct tape.
4. Paper products - toliet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels. This should go without saying.
5. Cleaners - dusting spray, all-purpose spray cleaner or wipes, glass cleaner, dish soap. Depending on your college student, you might need to show them how to use them. You may also need to remind them to use the cleaning supplies. In addition, for apartment living - toliet bowl cleaner, floor cleaner or a good all-purpose cleaner. Also, they may need a vacuum, broom, or a floor sweeper.
6. Laundry supplies. Most dorms have laundry facilities that will let you use a debit card or your student account card. However, the college student might still need quarters as well as laundry detergent, stain remover, and maybe fabric softener. They might also need instructions on how to run the machines and how to wash the clothes.
7. A vehicle emergency kit - tire pressure gauge, a quart of oil, flares, flashlight, battery jumper cables, rags, tire repair kit, vehicle maintenance manual, small tool kit, and a jack and tire iron. Also teach them how to use this, check their oil, and change their own tires.
8. Towels and Bedding. Wash cloths, kitchen towels, bath towels, and rags. Whatever they like to sleep on and underneath. They will need them all. You might also want to look into getting a memory foam topper for the uncomfortable mattress. Trust me on this.
9. Personal items like clothes, personal grooming, etc. For dorm life, a shower caddy and shower shoes or flip flops for the trips to the community showers. Also, a first aid kit would be a very, very good idea too!
10. Organizing items like tubs, cubes, under bed storage, totes, whatever it takes to make the space livable and keep your items from taking over your space.
11. Decorating items. Your college student is going to spend time in his dorm room or apartment. Use banners, wall decorations, posters, and pictures to decorate the room and make the space their own.
12. Entertainment. Again your college student is going to spend time at college in his dorm room or apartment. They need to be able to entertain themselves and their friends. Think movies, books, card games, board games, video games, etc. These are good things to help manage the stress level, bond with new friends, and spend time with old friends. Also, having these things may keep them out of the kind of trouble that will give you phone calls you don't want. Just saying.
13. Good time organization tools. They will need a clock, alarm clock, planner, and/or calendar. Being on their own for the first time, they will need things to help them be responsible. Getting up on time, knowing when to be a class and work, and what their assignments are is crucial. They need a good tool to manage it all. I know they all have smartphones, but I liked have things down on paper then and nothing has changed. Having a visual reminder will help them too.
14. A good pair of headphones. Before you think this is crazy, it isn't. It is your college student being considerate. No one wants to listen to what they are listening to, plus it helps them tune out the other people in the dorm, apartment, commons, or library when they are studying. The college students were adamant about this.
15. A Computer or Laptop. Yes, this is a necessity in college. Yes, the school library also may have them. However, more and more colleges (if not all) are requiring the student to have them. Along with this, they will need a mouse, printer, printer ink, printer paper, and possibly a wireless router.
Most of this list is just the basics. Your college will have rules for their dorms/apartments and you need to look into that. Some do not allow candles. Some do not allow single burners to cook food or even microwaves. Some may not allow you to nail or screw anything into the walls. Some may not have carpet in the room and the student may need a good size area rug.
Some dorms and apartments do not have air conditioning and your student will need fans. Case in point, my oldest daughter moved into a dorm in August when Iowa had record breaking temperatures. It was 95 degrees F with a heat index of 105 degrees F when we moved her in. She and her roommate had no air conditioning. They had four fans running before we left.
You might think your student needs a car at college. Again, every college is different. Some colleges do not allow freshman to have vehicles at college. If there is 2-3 kids from the same town at the same college, maybe they can work out a carpool solution. Having a vehicle at college is at the discretion of the parents and the college.
Parents of college students, what else would you add to this list?
Thanks for reading,