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Essential Items for College

Supplies and Items Your Child will need for college

College packing is not quite the same as a week at camp. One stuffed-to-the-brim duffle and tightly rolled sleeping bag just won't work! Here are a few must-have items to consider as you help your teen organize for a stay in the dorm:

1. Computer

Most colleges will provide information on computers and Internet options available in dorm rooms, as well as what the college provides for those not packing their own computer. Remember when bringing a computer to check all cables, keyboard, mouse, software and printer, as well as discs, CDs, ink cartridges and print paper. It's the little things that most forget to pack. Although forgotten items may be purchased once your teen gets to school, bringing what is needed can be a great financial savings.

2. Laundry

Mom is no longer there to do the laundry, so make sure to bring a hamper or clothes basket, as well as soap and fabric softener. Some find an iron is necessary, and a jar full of change is always helpful. Remember, most washers and dryers require quarters. Plenty of hangers will make organizing the room and closet much easier.

3. Study Supplies

In addition to a computer, study books such as a dictionary and thesaurus are a good bet. Although it's not the high school scene, a backpack, notebooks, paper, pens and pencils are still a necessity. Don't forget the little things – tape, stapler, 3-hole punch, wastebasket, staple remover, scissors, ruler, paper clips, note cards, highlighter and sticky notes. A schedule or calendar is also useful.

4. Medications

Although your teen may never forget important personal medications, the little things such as pain reliever, vitamins, eye drops, q-tips and bandages should be part of a first aid kit for the college dorm room. Toiletries, such as shampoo, conditioner, brush, deodorant, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, etc., should be packed in large quantities so you don't need to replenish soon.

5. Electric Extras

Many colleges suggest a small refrigerator is a plus for the dorm room. However, if your teen has a roommate/s, check before too many refrigerators take up space. One is plenty. Other electric extras include an alarm clock, reading lamp, stereo, TV, DVD and fan. Most dorm rooms are not air-conditioned, so a small space fan can be one of the most important items you pack.

6. Clothing

Packing for all climates and seasons can be difficult. Remember to bring jackets and boots for cold weather, as well as swim suits and beach towels for the heat. Your teen may have time during a holiday to collect some of the seasonal items, but it will surely get cold before Thanksgiving if your teen doesn't have a few warm clothes at school. Plenty of socks and underwear are a must – your teen doesn't want to be doing laundry day in and day out. Remember to pack rain gear, work-out clothes and dress wear if you have it. Also, a tuxedo or gown is an important item to include if your teen is in a music group. (Don't forget the shoes, black socks and hose to go with those.) Round out the clothing with pajamas, robe, slippers, flip flops for the shower and hat and gloves.

7. Bedding

Although your teen may prefer that tightly rolled sleeping bag, remember the appropriate bedding. In most situations, nothing is provided. Pack extra-long sheets, blankets, comforter, pillows and cases along with extras like the electric blanket or mattress cover. Don't forget the towels and wash clothes. Check with the college – some dormitories provide a weekly linen service that includes sheets and towels.

8. Sports and Hobby Equipment

Don't forget to pack that football, basketball, tennis racquet (and of course, balls), Frisbee, golf clubs, camera, board games and sports bag. Most colleges provide excellent sports facilities with weight rooms, tracks, sports courts, pools and other areas for continuing (or starting) a fitness program.

9. Storage

Unless your teen has a private room, most rooms (and roommates) require you store your extra items in storage containers that slide easily under the bed or into a closet area. Check the size and appropriate height so the container will actually go under the bed. With more than one person in a room, space becomes an important commodity. Also remember a storage carrier for personal toiletries such as shampoo, soap and toothbrush that can easily be toted to the bathroom. Although your teen may pack many things in boxes or large bags, a suitcase or duffle is great for traveling back and forth from school to home during vacation.

10. Miscellaneous

Here's a list of important miscellaneous items: umbrella, batteries, bug spray, tanning lotion, shaver, important papers – driver's license, Social Security card, financial aid paperwork. Don't forget musical instruments, sheet music, Bible, favorite book, playing cards, photos from home, hand-held vacuum, cell phone, savings/checking account information, favorite music, sunglasses, address book, stamps and envelopes, nail clippers, mug, utensils and paper towels.

Checking off a list as you pack may seem too organized, but it saves extra trips, calls home for items to send and spending money unnecessarily. Another time- and money-saving tip is to look carefully at the size of the typical dorm room on tours of the school before move-in day. This may also give you an idea of what to bring – and what not to bring. Too much may be just as difficult as too little. And remember, packing for your teen's second year will be much easier!

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