By Pam Molnar
When my daughter went to college, we used every spare inch of the space in our SUV to carry her stuff. It seemed like she packed her whole wardrobe, enough cleaning supplies to maintain the White House and more snacks than I thought she could eat in a year. Even then, she discovered she needed a few more things – items that no one told us we should pack.
- Your health insurance card – Yes, most campus’ have a clinic onsite to diagnose Strep throat, UTIs and other simple illnesses. However, any prescriptions are dispensed off campus at the local Walgreens or Rite Aid. And, my daughter found on more than one occasion that the on-campus clinic was often over flowing with sick students, requiring her to visit the off campus urgent care.
- Your family’s medical history – Mom isn’t going to be with her college student when she visits a doctor at school. Your student will need to know your family’s basic medical history so they don’t have to call home while filling out the doctor’s forms.
- The ability to cook simple meals – Most students are sick of the college cafeteria food by the second week and out of money for take-out items by the third week. Take advantage of the kitchen in the dorms by making simple pastas, egg dishes or a comfort food from home.
- Basic Kitchen Tools – No one wants to use the dorm kitchen tools (who knows the last time they were washed). Instead, buy a cheap pot, colander, large spoon, crockpot, can opener and whatever other item you need to make your favorite dishes.
- Family passwords – My daughter texted me one night at 11:00 to ask for our cable company user name and password so she could watch The Bachelor on the ABC app. Many cable stations require proof that you are already paying for their service in order for you to watch the programs online.
- Amazon Prime Account – Almost everything can be ordered through Amazon and shipped to you in two days including food, school supplies, books, clothes and toiletries. Amazon Prime Student is available for free for the first 6 months and then upgrades to a full membership for 50% normal rate.
- Rain gear – It rains on almost every college campus at least some of the time. Don’t overlook purchasing a large umbrella (big enough to cover you and your backpack), rain boots and a water proof jacket. No one wants to sit in a class in wet clothes.
- Brita Water bottle – Disposable water bottles are surprisingly expensive in single purchases and hard to haul across campus in large cases. A Brita water bottle filters dorm room or water fountain water, saving you a ton of money and is easy on the environment.
- Entertainment that is not electronic – Give yourself a break from the technical world. Unwind with a coloring book or catch up on your favorite magazine. Playing card games or Frisbee is a great way to bond with new friends.
- Checks – Much to our surprise, you cannot pay for everything on campus electronically or with cash. There were two instances my daughter’s freshman year that required me to overnight her blank checks.
- Simple tool box – You will need a screwdriver to open the back of your calculator battery compartment. Zip ties and duct tape are great for quick fixes. Other simple tools might be a plunger for the suite bathroom or a mini air pump for blowing up balls or bike tires.
- First Aid Kit – Pack a simple bag of cold medicines, pain relievers, bandages and a thermometer. As any mother can tell you, everyone gets sick after the pharmacy has closed so it is best to stock up and be prepared.
- Mini Tupperware/Ziploc bags – These are great for storing extra food from your big lunch, taking snacks with you in your backpack or packing wet items in when traveling for a weekend trip.
- Business attire – Most college students think can wait until their Junior or Senior year to pack a suit or conservative skirt. However, some class projects, formal events or inductions require nicer clothes than a hoodie and yoga pants.
- Your own bank account – If you didn’t need one for your high school job, it’s time to get one. Most on campus jobs are paid via direct deposit. My daughter’s account is linked to ours (one way) so we can transfer money to her as needed.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of two college students and one high school student. Her nest is emptier, yet her garage is still filled with all her kids’ treasures.