Ultimate List of Essentials for Your Child’s First Year of College

Is your son or daughter heading off to college this fall?  Check out this Ultimate List of Essentials for Your Child’s First Year of College!

As both a stepping stone to full independence and a way to jumpstart their new social lives, a lot of universities require students to spend their first year of college life in dorms. If that applies to your new high school graduate, you’ll probably get a checklist of items specific to that particular dorm later this summer. In the meantime, there are some universal items you can start looking for now.

1. Shower Caddy

More and more dorms might be going apartment style, but plenty of older freshman dorms haven’t caught up. Shower caddies and a pair of flip-flops are essential for staying hygienic in open communal bathrooms — dorm shower floors have been shown to harbor up to 40 times the amount of bacteria as a toilet seat. A caddy is also just plain convenient if your student is lucky enough to only need to share a bathroom with four suitemates. For good measure, pack the caddy with all the toiletry basics: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, shavers, over-the-counter medications, etc.

2. Smart Storage Solutions

Space is at a premium in even the nicest college dorms. Send your student off with enough clever space – maximizing storage to stay organized. Foldable hanging shelves are especially important; there is nothing smaller than a dorm room closet — and if your child is unlucky enough to not even have one of those, the shelves can also be hung from walls. The space under the bed will likely be the biggest space your student will have to stow belongings. Risers will add some much-needed extra space to it. For inexpensive underbed storage, get a few zippered storage bags. For a fancier and more secure method, rolling storage lockers are popular.

3. (Relatively) Old-Fashioned Alarm Clock

A phone alarm app won’t cut it. Teenagers can learn to do even the most complicated unlocks in their sleep. To make sure your child still gets to morning classes on time without you around, buy an alarm clock that can only be turned off by getting out of bed.

4. Laundry Bag

Gone are the days of Speedy Parental Laundry. Your child will need a sturdy laundry bag to lug loads to and from the dorm laundry room. Pair it with detergent, quarters (or tokens/a full laundry card), dryer sheets, and a drying rack. And maybe a clear set of written instructions in case your child hasn’t learned how to properly wash clothes, yet. You don’t want to add “New Wardrobe” to an already expensive list of first year essentials.

5. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

A pair of these is especially important for students with attention issues. There are no environments quite as full of noisy distractions as a college campus. Your student will have to study with roommates making noise, neighbors blasting music, other students shouting outside, etc. Even school libraries are no longer a quiet sanctuary. Earplugs aren’t nearly as effective as the combo of noise-cancelling headphones hooked up to some white noise.

6. The Right Bedding

This is kind of a weird one that is likely to be on every dorm checklist. Many college dorms across the country provide students with extra long twin beds, a size rarely used in any other setting. However, hold off on this purchase until you know exactly what size your child’s dorm mattress will be. Murphy’s law of dorm shopping dictates that the second you buy bedding without an official checklist in hand, you’ll find out you’ve grabbed the wrong size.

7. First Aid Kit

First aid is an important part of any survival kit, whether you’re planning for a natural disaster or your child’s first year of college. Strangely enough, first aid kits are often forgotten on many official dorm checklists. Surveys have shown that less than half of Americans have a first aid kit in their home, and college students are probably even less likely to have one. Not only will providing a first aid kit keep your own child safe, but there’s always the chance that you’ll forever be known at that one parent who saved a roommate’s life.

With these items in tow, your student will be a lot more prepared to excel in this new environment in their first year of college. If you find yourself needing some extra cash to send your child off with all the essentials, consider applying for a personal loan with us at Members Plus Credit Union!


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