Preparing Son for College Dorm Life

Julie_MI_Z5December 30, 2002

I'm try to pre-plan and make a list of what our son will need for college. Does anyone have experience with this and have a list started?

My famiy thinks I'm nuts--but he's not leaving this house until I'm sure he has basics like "X" number of towels and a box of bandaids and all that stuff.



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Is he old enough to go to the store by himself? Can he be trusted to ask questions of others if he needs something? If your answer to either of these is no, maybe you should keep him at home a year or two longer.

Some boys his age would be going into the service. They can make it without mommy. So can your son. If he can't, then it is time he learned.

Plan on him doing his laundry once a week or going dirty. It's going to be his problem.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2002 at 3:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have a list, but check with his school first. Things like microwaves, fridges, etc., may or may not already be in the room. Find out if the dorm beds are regular twins or extra long. The school may have a suggestion on number of towels, etc., but a lot of it depends on personal preference or how often he wants to wash clothes. I bought 3 full size bath towels for my youngest brother when he went off to school.

Also, check with the school to see if they have voice mail or if your ds needs to get an answering machine for his telephone. This may not be important to him now, but it will be when he gets ready to look for a job.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2002 at 3:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Adella, thanks for the idea to call the school. It's been a long time since I was a college student!

Aileen, I find your unconstructive remarks quite mean-spirited. I just discovered the Parenting board within the last week and it's disheartening to read your comments; I believe my question was about what college students need, not whether or not my kid was "ready" for college.

To answer Aileen's questions, YES my son can shop alone and ask for help, but since he's going to be stuck without a car in the middle of no where, we would prefer to start him out fully-equipped (not to mention I don't want to pay college convenience store prices).

    Bookmark   December 30, 2002 at 3:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When is he going? Next fall? This spring semester? We have learned that dorms are not air conditioned and they need a fan. No fans are left in any college town by the time your kid gets there, so buy one at home and send it or pack it in the car. Since he will be washing clothes only for one, make it worth his time--have him do the laundry every other week and get him 2 weeks worth of socks and underpants or boxers. (I know they are expensive, especially boxers, so go to Ross, TJ Maxx or Marshalls for discounts.) Also get him a laundry duffle bag. He will need extra long twin sheets I would suspect, as well as a quilt and pillow and mattress pad (two sets would be a waste for most boys, who rarely change their sheets). One school supplied the linens, but no one wanted to use the ugly, scratchy stuff. Be smart and get a medium to deep color or busy print to disguise spots and spills. The answering machine and phone are provided in some dorms, so check that out. He will probably need to supply his own desk lamp and waste basket too. One or two towels is enough--two for when he is doing laundry and should want to take a shower or for when a friend visits or he wants to go to the beach. He will be walking to class in all kinds of weather--an umbrella is cool in college. If he is going to be in lots of snow, some kind of waterproof warm footwear is in order. About 6 weeks (so checks will arrive before he leaves) before he leaves, get him a checking account for the bank that has a campus ATM, but open it together at your local branch of that bank. Make arrangements for your name to be on the account too--then you can make deposits locally for his use on campus. Great when sudden expenses crop up, such as books costing twice as much as expected, tuition due, etc. Get him a charge card too--for emergencies only. If the laundry machines use coins (some use campus credit cards), send a roll of dimes and quarters too. If you have not bought him one before he leaves for school, give him $60 to buy a warm school sweatshirt. (The tradition at our daughter's high school was to wear a college shirt for where you are going on one particular day in the late spring, so we had her sweatshirt bought for then, but the boys bought when they arrived on campus.) An extension cord and/or surge protector. A cup, plate, bowl and knife, fork and spoon, and a paring knife. If you can rent a small frige from the school, do so; most seem to buy them at Costco. They are nice to have for those early breakfasts and weekend meals, not to mention snacks, etc. Soft sided, duffle bag type luggage so that it can be crammed under his bed or in the closet. Hangars--some boys do not know what these are, so you may have to demonstrate. A basket to put his shower stuff (shaving, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and brush) in and take with him, so be sure it has holes in the bottom too for draining. Talk with him about how he plans to get from the shower to his room to dress and buy him a terry robe if he will use it--is the floor coed? The floors are incredibly dirty in dorms--get him slippers.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2002 at 3:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sheilajoyce... thanks for the advice AND the chuckle... you're right about the hangars!

You did bring up two other things I hadn't thought of:

"Thou shall use extension cords safely and NOT re-wire the dorm room" and "Thou shalt not walk down the hall in only a towel after your shower".

My shopping list is getting longer! I saw the perfect travel umbrella the other day, I'll go back and get it. It is really exciting for me to anticipate his new life. I'm anxious to fill the trash basket and laundry bag full of "gifts" to give him at graduation. We'll see if he gets a puzzled look on his face when he sees the hangars!


    Bookmark   December 31, 2002 at 8:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, it is exciting for parents as well as the college student. This is a big step, one you have been aiming him toward all his life. I kept reminding myself, a successful job at parenting means they leave home and do so with excitement and anticipation. Sometimes I had to repeat that mantra to myself till the bittersweet feelings about the permanent change in our family had passed. Also time to talk in greater detail about dating and alcohol and sex and values.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2003 at 10:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My dd is just starting her 2nd semester as a junior. She spent the first 2 years in a dorm. Definitely check with the school as to what is provided and allowed.

One thing that seems to be very popular now ae lofts (basically the top part of a free standing bunk bed). This allows them to sleep on top section and put stuff on the bottom. It is unbelievable what those kids can pack into those little dorm rooms. The school had definite yeah and nay reference these lofts.

One thing my dd has almost worn out is a collapsible mesh sided laundry bag. It doesn't take up as much room as a laundry basket. Reference sheets - I bought her some of those t-shirt type - they stretch on those longer than usual mattresses.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2003 at 9:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The school, or the dorm itself may have orientation information. Make sure you get whatever written info they have.

As to the practicalities and things, prepare yourself to be responsive because 'little' things will probably come up after the fact, and these can be individual for him. It's hard to know in advance how he will react to the different new situations and routines, and what kinds of quirky needs he may have. Art supplies, pens, paper (maybe some specific type), things which can give him something to do in order to alleviate any sense of boredom.

The main general tip is to work with what you already know of him. A trivial example would be the bathrobe/towel thing. A person can have an already developed habit of drying and throwing on sweats or pyjamas when they would be roaming hallways or something. In this kind of hypothetical case, the person may not want, or use a bathrobe to accomplish the task of being appropriately covered.

First aid type things would be bandaids that stick (ask him if he has brand or style preferences). Some kind of antiseptic ointment is also useful. Some pain reliever-- aspirin, tylenol, ibuprofen, naproxen, whatever works for him-- would also be a good idea. After that, maybe cold or allergy stuff if that applies. Aloe gel, some sun screen, and an over the counter antifungal cream are also good to include. Find out about recommended vaccinations, if there are any and check that against what he's had by way of vaccinations. This is important because dorms are very close quarters and because there are communicable diseases which can become outbreaks in that kind of situation. The thing is, most are communicable when a person doesn't yet look 'ill' so it's very important to make sure that a person's immune status against vaccine preventables is at least up to par.

Storage boxes or things to store first aid supplies and/or personal toiletries, shaving supplies and the like. Storage that makes it simple to use the things, and to take them along (in case shower/sink facilities are not right in the dorm room).

The ATM check is also important in terms of making things easier or more convenient. Find out which are the closest banks and things like that.

Other than that, I don't think there is a standard 'x' number of things that people need. I do think though that in case there is a recommendation, the college or dorm orientation staff should be able to give you their official recommendations.

P.S. Don't forget about health insurance and insurance for his belongings or for specific high ticket items. Some of those can be locked, so locks and keys might be a good idea. Or, if he wants or needs a new key fob for something that can be a good thing to get but since it is a personal object, get a lot of input from him.

P.S. Laundry soap is relatively expensive, and takes up space and is also something he will need unless he has a personal laundry service.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2003 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Amygdala--Thanks for the reminder on insurance and that whole LOFT thing... I was thinking shallow under-the-bed storage when I bet we should be thinking TALL storage! We'll wait and see on that.

Funny story about "personal laundry service". Last summer he worked (and lived) at a camp for 3 months. When questioned about how he coped with the Laundramat at camp, he was vague and just said "he got it done". Turns out (upon further questioning) one of the women that worked in the lodge kitchen took it home with her and did it every week!


    Bookmark   January 2, 2003 at 6:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lofts, at my daughter's school, were made and sold by the architecture students as a department fundraiser, so ask if you are interested. None of my kids used them. Students put their desk under the loft, and slept on top. Also forgot to mention--a simple tool "box"--big and little screw driver, small hammer, pliers, a few nails of various sizes--to use to hang bulletin boards or pictures or hold something together--and some tacks.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2003 at 3:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

He should also develop an email directory this spring of all his friends at home and all the relatives. Email is a wonderous thing at keeping the kids connected to each other and home, and helps stave off any home sickness. Adding the email address to all yearbook signatures helps when they sign them in the spring. Then he has a good source of emails to record in his email address book.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2003 at 3:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In the most literal sense, I would emphasize good study habits - because there will be lots of noise. Regular midnight hall football games, phones ringing, doors slamming - so maybe buy him earplugs. The computer is a good thing, until it becomes a distraction. Maybe using the computer lab's terminal instead of having his own might enforce study habits and discipline. While this might not be a problem for your son, it could be for others.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2003 at 9:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Phyllis, for my youngest, I did have to send him without a computer--it had become A HUGE distraction at home. Thought he was doing homework, and he was chatting with friends. He managed using the computer lab and roommate or friends' computers, but I think he had to do cold turkey that way. Wasting time on the internet tot he extent he did would jeopardize his grades, I felt. Much like my going cold turkey in college with bridge when I discovered how addicting it was.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2003 at 8:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just have one more piece of advice to add-if your son finds out who his roommate is before arriving on campus, definitely have them touch base on who will bring what, otherwise they may end up with two refridgerators, two microwaves, etc. in a tiny dorm room.
I haven't been out of college long (graduated 1999) so if you have any other questions, I'll be glad to help if I can! Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2003 at 11:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Although two phones might be good because then you won't have to get out of bed to answer the phone. LOL Been there, I'm embarrassed to admit!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2003 at 8:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Actually, they all like cell phones these days. So you need to know whose signal is good on your campus.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2003 at 1:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Got a lot of smiles from these posts. Remembrances of my four going off to college, each for the first time. First to go was DD. She took 125% of everything she needed. The school sent a list and I got another list from a different school too. We got it all. took 2 vans to move her in. She shared a 7 x 11 foot room with one other girl! We have a pic of her room on move in day. Oops, that super size box of Tampax on the bed shows in every picture! Her and old room mate laughed about that one at DD's wedding shower!
Now, the next 3 were boys and they take 100% of what they need (meaning: 25% of what you KNOW they need). One set of sheets, who needs to wash except at Xmas and Spring break?!
I mean it simply amazed me! If they didn't have something they needed, they just went down the hall and "borrowed" it from someone else (usually a girl who had it all). If they knew they were coming home in 2 weeks, then they didn't do laundry. No, I do not do anyones laundry except mine and DH's, they just didn't want to haul it anywhere. So don't worry, what they don't take with them you can mail or they will beg from soneone else.
BTW mail them a package one day BEFORE they leave. Amazing how much a box from home says "I love you".
Still have 2 in college, had all 4 in at the same time one year!
Kathy G in MI

    Bookmark   March 4, 2003 at 8:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I did the mailed box the day before leaving too--really appreciated by my new college kid. Yes, this thread does bring back memories.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2003 at 2:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In only one short month our ds will be off to his first year of college. This is my one and only and we will be empty nesters. I was curious what type of items you included in the mailed box the day before leaving. : ) We've been shopping/collecting items to bring with us that he will need. I definitely would like to surprise ds with a package from home - just don't know what else I might be forgetting or that he might be surprised to find in the box. : ) THANKS!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 9:34AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need iOS app for my kids.
I bought an iPad for my kids. Please guys suggest me...
New cervical cancer vaccine - You & Your Daughter
My 16 yr old daughter & I are in the process of...
What do other working moms do?
Ok to start I do work full time but I work friday/saturday/sunday...
Please help me!
I have been dating my boyfriend for about 2 years....
mothers estranged from adult children
Hi Ladies. I'm new here and there was a post at the...
Sponsored Products
Fat Cat Statue
Grandin Road
Era Soho Red Rug (5'3 x 7'6)
Cielos Bath Rug 24" x 36" - BRONZE
$54.90 | Horchow
'Family' Alpha Frame
$18.99 | zulily
Nomad Turquoise and Wasabi Rectangular: 5 Ft. x 8 Ft. Rug
$288.15 | Bellacor
41 LED 6V Tent Lamp UFO Camping PVC Portable Light Silver
$7.95 | ParrotUncle
CAL Lighting Desk Lamps: 5 Watt LED Desk Lamp in Dark Bronze BO-118DK-DB
Home Depot
Forked 27" LED Snowflake Mot147
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™