Back-to-School Basics for College: How to Prepare

Fall is fast approaching, and back-to-school sales are already underway, everywhere you look. If you’re sending your teenager to college for his or her first year, you’re going to need much more than just notebooks and pencils. Make sure your student is ready by following these guidelines.

Plan your list:

Start by checking the college’s recommended supplies list. Many comprehensive lists are also available online. Consider whether your child is moving into a dorm or an apartment, whether some supplies will be shared, provided, or readily available nearby. Here are a few of the basic for college to consider:

  • Bedding & Linen: Buy two sets of sheets and several towels, so your teen will be able to put some things in the laundry.
  • Laundry supplies: A laundry basket with a removable bag (or handles); laundry soap, dryer sheets and rolls of quarters are all necessities for a new college student. If your student will have to walk to a laundromat, get individual laundry soap packets, so they don’t have to lug the whole bottle.
  • Non-perishable food: You don’t want your son or daughter to be eating macaroni and cheese every single night, but it’s good to have some easy meals or snacks available for those late night study sessions–or when they forgot to go to the grocery store.
  • Hygiene products: Face wash, tissues, tampons, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner: these things can be expensive when purchased at a convenience or campus store, so stock up. And don’t forget things like tweezers, cotton swabs, band-aids and other items that won’t just be there when your son or daughter needs them.
  • Cleaning supplies: Make sure your child has some basic cleaning supplies for their dorm room; or a more comprehensive kit if he or she is moving into an apartment.
  • School and office supplies: Again, your child won’t have access to your home office, so make sure they have all the basics: stapler, tape, ruler, a letter tray or standing file system, folders, etc.
  • Decorations: Your student will appreciate having a few photos and posters to make their new digs feel like home. Don’t forget push pins or double-sided hanging tape, so you can put it all up. If your child is not moving into a dorm room, you might also purchase a bulletin or magnetic board.

Packing a wardrobe, the basics for college:

If your student is heading into the dorms, encourage them to pack light. Read up on the local weather and be sure he or she has clothing to match. If they’re inclined to bring everything, let them know that clothing is easy to ship, and if they still miss it in a month you will send it (they won’t).

Getting there:

Give yourself enough time on drop-off day to survey the situation and pick up anything you forgot or didn’t know your student would need. If your student is open to it, try a practice grocery store trip and stock up on healthier items that you know he or she will eat. Making sure your student has all they need to live independently won’t make leaving them at college any easier, but at least you’ll know you’ve set them up for success.  Follow these steps, and you will have the basics for college covered.