Top Ten Things to Send When They Go Away To College


This charming, scruffly creature will be moving back to college in less than a week.  This will be his Sophomore year, so I’m not having the total melt-down I was having at this point last year.  I did a guest post over at The Kennedy Adventures on How to Stay Sane While Sending a Kid Off to College, and if you’re doing this for the first time I suggest you give it a peek immediately.  But if you’ve done this before or are simply more well-adjusted emotionally than me (that’s setting the bar kind of low) this list of ten things to make sure you send along with them may be just the double-check you need.

1.) Money.  I know, this one seems obvious, but I mean money in addition to what’s in their account for buying books and school supplies, the tuition payments you’ve already sent, and the money on their meal card.  Have a way you can get money to them fast if they need it.  Make sure they either have a credit card (with a reasonable limit) or a bank card or Paypal card (my personal preference) that you can transfer money to immediately.  Aaron needed a car battery last year mid-semester on a Sunday afternoon.  I was out running errands and was able to transfer the money to his Paypal student card immediately with my iPhone.

2.) Extra socks and underwear.  This is especially true if you have a boy, but it can be an issue with girls, too.  My first roommate Freshman year had a personal maid her entire life up until college.  Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.  When her clothes got dirty she threw them in the bottom of the closet and bought more.  That’s an extreme case, but I can tell you for sure that college kids aren’t going to do laundry as often as it gets done for them at home.  For your own peace of mind make sure they have clean socks and underwear.

3.) First aid kit.  Ibuprofen, tylenol, pepto-bismol, Nyquil, neosporin ointment, bandaids, special blister bandaids, a heating pad, an ice pack, your favorite over-the-counter allergy med, your favorite cold remedy (I like Zicam and Airborn), chloraseptic spray, aloe gel, benadryl, calamine or benadryl lotion, and some sort of anti-fungal powder or spray for athlete’s foot. Oh, and an ace bandage.

4.) Make copies of the fronts and backs of all their credit, debit, and ID cards before they leave and keep them in a safe place at home.   And copy serial numbers from computers, calculators, bikes, anything that could get stolen on campus and put those in the same place. That way if there is a theft someone has the numbers to call to cancel the cards and give the police a better chance of retrieving the stolen merchandise.

5.) A laptop in tip-top shape and plenty of backup storage.  Remind them to tune up their computer before they leave and make sure their anti-virus software is current.  Thumb drives and external hard drives are wonderful, but an extra backup like dropbox.com (free!) is great for peace of mind just in case everything gets lost, stolen or damaged at once.  These things happen.

6.) The sturdiest laundry basket you can find.  Again, they aren’t going to do laundry often, so those cute net things are going to break after the first use.  Think heavy-duty.

7.) A great mattress pad and pillow.  I found both at Target last year, and I saw the same ones there this year.  High thread count sheets for those long twin beds are harder to find, but you can get them online.

8.) A couple of sweatshirts.  Of course you expect them to come home before the weather changes, but just in case there’s a sudden cold snap this will keep them from spending $75 for a hoodie in the school bookstore (maybe).

9.) Healthy snacks.  A box or two of granola bars or protein bars, some dried fruit, some trail mix – if it’s there in the dorm room it’s more convenient than the candy bar in the machine in the lobby.

10.) An excellent charger for their electronic devices.  I learned this one the hard way after too many nights worrying about Aaron when his phone was dead.  I bought him an iGo charger for Christmas and his phone hasn’t died since.  Neither have his laptop or mp3, but I wasn’t as worried about those.


I’m linking this post up to Top Ten Tuesdays, The Mommy Club, and Works for Me Wednesdays – I hope someone finds it helpful! And since it’s my favorite post of the week I’m also linking it to Mama Made It Look Easy for “Share Your Awesome”!
Top Ten {Tuesday}

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8 thoughts on “Top Ten Things to Send When They Go Away To College”

  1. Okay I am sending my boy off in a couple weeks. I am doing pretty good on the list of stuff needed…..its the emotions department that I am a hot mess. Off to read your other post….I need some serious help or lots of drinks! Or both!

    1. Oh, honey, I know EXACTLY how you’re feeling! Email me and I’ll send you my phone number if you want to chat. I was such an emotional wreck this time last year that friends and co-workers carried around tissues in case I ran out. I sobbed at the drop of a hat, and I turned every meal, every load of laundry, every movie we watched together into “our last before he leaves”. You’d have thought he had a terminal disease instead of plans for a college education! It’s going to be wonderful, though, once you get through move-in day and he starts classes and you realize what a fantastic young man he is even without you around to help. These stressful last few weeks will all be worth it. Sending you prayers and lots of positive energy for strength right now!!

  2. OH my gosh I’m so old. My how the list has changed! For me is was lots of notebook paper, pens, and probably carpel tunnel wrist braces from taking notes!! : ) Great list, though!

  3. This is a great list! I started college 20 years ago and had most of these things, but I didn’t bring the sweatshirts (and cold weather came sooner than I expected) and money was a problem: I moved halfway across the country, and my ATM card didn’t work up here–which I discovered when my $50 cash was stolen when I left my room unlocked (because I was in my nightgown; no pockets) to help a neighbor who was crazy drunk down the hall! I looked in my student handbook and learned where I could cash a check on campus (I did have checks on my out-of-state account) but had to borrow cash to get through the weekend. I opened a local bank account on Monday!

    Congratulations on your experienced college student; I hope he and you have a great year!

  4. This makes me miss my college days! Great ideas, and so different from what I would have thought about when I went to college, which was just ten years ago.

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