Add These to Your College Shopping List!

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I've discovered that some essentials get left off the list that colleges and universities send you on what you should buy your freshman as he heads into his dorm room. And I'm not talking about matching curtains. No one tells you, for example, to get a duplicate insurance or pharmacy card for your son or that it's a good idea to pack vitamins. The first few weeks of college are very stressful, and the chances are slim that your child will find time to go shopping for vitamin supplements.

In the past month, I've sent my son off to college. I've gone through the exhaustive search to find good quality sheets and pillow cases, comforters and even a fridge on sale. I've had tips from sisters and grandparents on bargain shopping, and I have to say they helped a lot. Talking to someone, like a sister, who just went through the process the year before me, is like having your very own personal shopper who cares about your finances. (One sister saved me $100 on the comforter alone! I simply went to the same store where she bought her comforter and it was still on sale.). The 50-plus coupons that Grandma mailed me to use on purchasing stuff at a local bed and bath store also helped!

When I started shopping, I had no intention of getting all the "bells and whistles" as some parents do when they go all out. First, I have a son who isn't interested in frills. Second, my budget could accommodate only the essentials. And third, I remember arriving on campus myself many years ago, with nothing more than two suitcases, one of which held my pillow and sheets, and I made out just fine. After all, isn't college about the Spartan life, intellectual exploration, and becoming more independent and less materialistic?

That said, I'm still a mom at heart, so I wanted my child to have the best of everything within reason.  So here are just a few more tips I learned along the way that might help you.

* Pack a broom and some cleaning supplies, as you might want to spruce up the room before he starts putting stuff in.
* Flashlight (you never know when he'll need it) Flip-flops for shower use, and make sure the shower caddy you buy is the biggest one you can find, so they can fit.
* A real laundry basket (the pop-up meshed kind works for dirty clothes but you need a plastic one so all the clean clothes don't end up wrinkled.)
* Laundry detergent
* Kleenex
* If you're buying a computer, check with the university first, as they sometimes offer unadvertised discounts for incoming students on items such as computer software.

And last but not least, pack some groceries for immediate use when your child starts unpacking his or her stuff. Sister No. 2 told me that she saw another mom bring these things, which she wished she had: Bottled water (moving in makes you very thirsty), crackers, favorite snacks like chips and granola bars and oranges. You'll discover that the Target and Walmart are extremely packed on move-in day, so this is a real time-saver.

If you have time to make a homemade treat to leave with your child, all the better. My husband baked his special banana bread, which my son and his roommate enjoyed in the first few weeks on campus.


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Categories: College Guide, College Planning, Education, Tweens and Teens