The summer before freshman year of college is beyond nerve-racking. It never feels like you’re fully prepared—or packed.. I’d procrastinate packing for days because I didn’t even know where to start.
Shopping for college can consume multiple summer weekends, unless you do some serious one-stop shopping. Pro tip? At your local Bed Bath and Beyond, you and your teen can get a very detailed packing list and scan any item in the store that you’re considering buying. On move in day, the store will place all of your scanned items in bins. When you’re ready to pick them up, head to a store location in your college town and only purchase the things you need. Not only is this efficient and organized, but you don’t have to drive a long way with a packed car, either.
If you’re wondering what’s missing from your list, here are a few items that came in handy for me once I realized I needed them.
For anyone who has the top bunk bed, this product is super useful to keep phones and laptops by the bed without having to constantly getting up. My roommate didn’t have this, so she’d always fall asleep with her laptop and chips in her bed. A clip-on bedside table can help keep a top bunk clean and organized.
I used this rolling cart to organize all my toiletries and hygiene products. If your teen doesn’t have a private bathroom in their dorm, this cart can help organize school supplies, extra clothes, makeup or shoes. It’s deceivingly big and holds a ton.
When I was scanning items at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I clearly remember my mom telling me these were unnecessary. Well…for once I proved her wrong, because buying three of these saved me so much space in my small wardrobe. Since I pretty much brought every item of clothing I owned to college, these hangers were very useful and helped keep my closet organized.
Plates, Cups and Utensils
I feel like a lot of my friends didn’t even consider buying kitchenware freshman year because they figured they wouldn’t be cooking. Although I’m not a chef by any means, having a few cheap, microwave-safe bowls helped me make ramen for a late night snack. Everyone on my floor would come borrow my forks and plates, which goes to show that everyone needed some. Even though I didn’t have a kitchen in my room, I had one on my floor and would sometimes prepare simple meals. Keep it simple just to get your unskilled teen through one year.
My roommate and I always joked that we had enough cleaning supplies to clean the entire dorm building. Everyone on our floor knew if they needed anything to clean their room, we’d definitely have it. I was shocked that some people didn’t have a broom or a small, handheld vacuum. Although cleaning usually isn’t a teen’s top priority, a clean room is a comfortable room. The last thing I’d want is to feel dirty in my own living space. If you give your teen some antibacterial wipes, they’ll essentially be able to clean up any mess they make. Don’t overwhelm your kids with cleaning supplies, but give them enough to be equipped for everyday messes and dust. Nothing’s worse than a stinky, dusty dorm.
Weekend Bag or Suitcase
You never know when your child and their friends will decide to go on a weekend road trip. That’s why it’s important to have a little suitcase or duffel bag on hand. I noticed a lot of people just kept their big suitcases for when they were ready to go home, but it’s important to have some travel bags for shorter, impromptu trips.
Scooter, Bike or Skateboard
Personally, I loved scootering around campus because it made going to class more fun. This year, I’m working on my skateboarding because skate culture is so prominent at my school. In fact, I have to look both ways when leaving a building to ensure I don’t get hit by a skater! If your school is large, I suggest getting some form of transportation because it allows you to wrap up last-minute homework before class and still be on time. At big schools, students have to schedule 20 minutes to walk to class. A bike, scooter or skateboard will help them manage their time better.
I went to school in San Diego, so bathing suits were a staple in my wardrobe. However, some of my friends went to school in cold places and still needed a bathing suit at least once or twice. If your child doesn’t think they’ll need a bathing suit, pack one anyways (it doesn’t take up much room).
Nice Clothes and Shoes
I’d bring one or two “fancy” outfits just in case there’s a formal event in your kid’s future. Similar to bringing a bathing suit, it’s better to be prepared than scrambling to buy a nice dress or suit on the day of an event. Don’t forget nice shoes to go with the outfit!
I wouldn’t go out of your way to buy a costume while packing, but if your kids have one or two lying around from past years, bring them. College campuses always have a lot going on around Halloween, so it’s important to be festive and prepared. Since Halloween is around midterms, this will keep your student from spending precious study time thinking about a costume.
Shopping and packing for college may seem like a never-ending cycle of stress. Just remember, whatever you and your child forget to pack, you can still buy when you get to campus. But your child might surprise you with their independence because students tend to make do with what we have. Don’t worry about your child being unprepared—they’ll mature and figure it out. On move in day, it’ll become clear what other items you need to complete the room.
Most importantly, don’t forget to remind your children to keep all their items organized in shelves, bins or whatever it may be. A cluttered space doesn’t help students flourish and grow. Hopefully, these tips can help you and your child start thinking about packing and how they want the room arranged. Packing is scary, but it lays the foundation for a comfortable and productive freshman year.