COLLEGE MOVE-IN is around the corner. Where to start? As a college admissions consultant, I not only like to see my young clients get into their first choice college, but also be prepared to move into college as well. I annually update a college checklist for my soon-to-be freshman families.
YOUR KID’S COLLEGE WEBSITE: Find the download list (instructions about what/what not to bring). Take note of rules about microwaves (colleges often specify a microfridge combo model you can buy or rent), extension cords (colleges usually want power surge protectors), and lightbulbs (halogen bulbs are forbidden). Find out if you are allowed to “loft” beds and buy a futon for underneath.
Confirm what furniture and interiors are provided before you purchase anything (carpeting, microwave or fridge in common areas). Check with the roommate before buying a TV, speakers, computer printer, air filter, large fan, and other major electronics. A great excuse for roommates touching base before they arrive! Before buying a laptop, check with the school (some colleges actually supply laptops, many offer discounts). What modes of transportation are common on this campus (bikes, shuttles)? For cell phones, consider insurance, and make sure it offers a seamless shift between voice, text and email (easier to reach your kid), with camera and media features to minimize the need for buying additional electronics. Most dorm rooms do not have landline phones.
INTERNET CHECKLISTS: Web sites: CollegeBoard, iVillage, SparkCollege, Gifts.com. Online discussion forums: CollegeConfidential. Blogs: KnowsyMoms.com. Search engines: About.Com:Dorm Room Accessories, About.Com: Dorm Furniture, About.Com: Futon Sources. And yes, there’s an app for that: College Packing List iPhone App by Slugbooks LLC.
ONLINE STORE CHECKLISTS: For well-organized store checklists, often printable, check out these terrific shopping resources: PBTeen, Bed Bath & Beyond,Walmart, Target, Ikea, Kohls and The Container Store . For school logo gear, explore CollegeGear.com, YourCollegeGear.com, FansEdge, and your teen’s college bookstore online. If your young adult is going by air, you can buy online (with free shipping offers), and ship directly to school. Buying online is more cost efficient than an impulsive move-in “supermarket sweep” (when local stores are sold out of many staples). Colleges receive packages by mid-August. Check your school’s website for dates and location for receiving packages.
Getting my son ready for a college that was an airplane trip away years ago, I found it disorienting jumping between online shopping resources, to identify the best gear and of course, price-shopping. To alleviate readers’ stress, I created my own checklist of essential items at a good value, which I update annually. I drew upon multiple manufacturers, often sourcing from Amazon, the gold standard clearinghouse with a reliable shipping record, usually offering free shipping (indicated by italics). Target is also a cost-effective dorm gear supplier that offers free shipping on selected orders over $50.
Here’s my checklist, updated for 2014.
BED: Target Room Essentials® Easy-Care Sheet Set, Target Room Essentials® Mattress Pad, 2 Bed Pillows, Target Room Essentials® Fleece Blanket, Target Room Essentials® Down Alternative Comforter, Bed Risers (best kept secret: so your kid can store stuff under the bed), Target Room Essentials® Comfy Foam Mattress Topper (this made my son happier than anything else I bought him).
DESK SUPPLIES: Drawer Organizer, Pencil Holder, Wastebasket, Stapler, Staples & Remover Set, Desktop 2-3 Hole Punch, Electric Pencil Sharpener, Scissors 2-Pk, Scotch Tape 3-rolls, Pencils 12-Pk, Erasers 3-Pk, Ballpoint Pens 12-Pk, Sharpie Highlighter 12-Pk, Sharpie Permanent Marker 2-Pk, Glue Stick 6-Pk, Correction Film 2-Pk, 5-Subject Notebook, Hanging File Folders, Paper Clips, Printer Paper, DuraCell 20 AA Batteries.
UTILITY, COMFORT & SAFETY: Duct Tape (for any emergency!) Foil Finish Mirror, Industrial Strength Velcro Fastener Tape (to hang the mirror), Conair Double-Sided Make-up Mirror 5X, Hamilton Beach Allergen-Reducing Air Cleaner, Honeywell Small Oscillating Fan (to supplement lame dorm air conditioning), Cordless Hand Vacuum, Power Squid Surge Protector, Computer Notebook Lock & Security Cable or Laptop Safe (yes, laptops do get stolen at college!), Keychain Alar with Light, First Aid Kit, Tabletop Ironing Board, Steam Iron, Portable Fabric Steamer.
ELECTRONICS: Not all of these are “must-haves”. Your student’s major, gadget affinity, and budget will dictate whether or not these items will be on your list: Appalon Alarm Clock, SONY Noise-Cancelling Headphones, HP 8 GB 2.0 Flash Drive, Western “My Passport” 500GB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive, Adjustable Laptop Stand & Cooling Fan, TI-89 Titanium Graphing Calculator (especially for quantitative and science majors), LapGear Computer Lap Desk.
Related posts: High School Seniors: Looking Toward College, Off to College: How to Choose Your Freshman Dorm–and Roommate, The College Transition Bible, College Move-In: The Aftermath, Adjusting to College Life: Friendsickness, College Dorm Laundry Service?, When Big Brother or Sister Goes to College, and College Freshmen Home for Thanksgiving.