7 Things Your Student Will Forget to Take to College

7 Things Your Student Will Forget to Take to College

Don’t forget to remind your college student to pack these easy-to-forget items.


By: Annie Traurig

Essentials like pots and pans and flatware are no-brainers when packing for college, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Living away from home means having to bring everything your kid needs — for every minute of every day. Bring these seven often-overlooked must-haves and avoid having to ship or deliver them.

1. Weather-Appropriate Gear
You haven’t truly experienced weather until you’ve traversed a campus in it. It’s easy to wear shorts and flip-flops in the winter when the only time you spend outside are the fleeting moments between jumping into the car at home and hustling out, but on a college campus, that oversight in attire-preparedness just won’t do. There’s nothing like a 10-minute walk to class in the pouring rain to make your daughter wish she’d remembered a pair of rain boots — or a shivering trek to the library in the dead of winter to make her wish she’d thought to pack hats, gloves and a scarf.

2. Hobby Supplies
When students pack for college, they tend to be so focused on the essentials they forget to include optional items — the supplies and equipment for the hobbies they enjoy in their free time.

While it’s true that there will be far less of that at college than at home (hopefully), there are certainly opportunities for students to relax and connect over shared interests in sports, crafts, movies and more. Whether it’s a tennis racket, a lacrosse stick, or a pair of knitting needles and yarn, be sure to remind your college-bound kid to bring those items along. These activities will bring comfort and help your young adult unwind after a stressful week. They’ll likely serve as a way to make friends, as well. It’s a little piece of home.

3. Precautionary Medicines
When school starts, your not-so-little one may be feeling great and not thinking about things like throat lozenges, cold medicine and even a set of different sized bandages. It’s almost inevitable that, at some point during the school year (and most likely around finals time), a lozenge will save the day. Stocking up now will save lots of trouble later.

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4. Identifying Labels
You may have labeled your kids’ clothes when they went away to summer camp because they were too young to keep track of things themselves. You also probably did it because camp, like college, is a place where many people’s belongings are corralled into shared spaces — situations that are ripe for mix-ups. Don’t assume college-aged kids are too old for labels. If you remember to identify the belongings that students take with them, it’s much more likely they’ll return with said goods in tow.

5. Mail Supplies
Since electronic correspondence has become today’s most relied-upon communication, chances are your kid will forget even a modest set of mail supplies. However, it’s wise for college students, who are likely to be interviewing for jobs or internships and making important career contacts, to have stationery and stamps. There is nothing as simple and impactful as a handwritten note.

6. Costumes
It makes sense that your daughter wouldn’t naturally think to pack that purple wig, those fairy wings or that set of bunny ears, but should she find herself on a college campus sans costumes, she may miss out on making some great memories.

Wacky costumes will come in handy, especially when the biggest crime is lack of festivity. If your teen has her favorite costume pieces from Halloweens past, she would do well to pack them — right alongside her tried-and-true blue jeans and T-shirts.

7. Sentimental Items
In a spurt of I’m-grown-and-off-to-conquer-the-world (of-college), kids will all too often neglect those precious items that provide comfort when the going gets tough. “What teddy bear?” at home will instantly translate to, “Where’s my bear?” at college. A sense of security isn’t something a child grows out of, nor is she meant to. Don’t forget those things that will help make her feel at ease away from home and the family, whether that’s a special trinket, a stuffed animal or pictures of loved ones.



Annie is a professional organizer and the founder of Live Simply. She works with clients locally in Seattle, as well as worldwide through virtual services, teaching them to expel the extraneous and instill their lives with lightness, laughter and ease.

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