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14 Essential Dorm Items You Need to Send with Your College Kid

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Time is unforgiving, and sending your child to college maybe one of the cruelest reality checks you will experience as a parent. While you can’t stall the passage of time or rewind the clock to when your child was an adorable chubbster, you can still help out as only a parent can by properly equipping them for dorm life.

This is a list of the most essential things your freshman will need to pack before heading to college.

1. Alarm Clock

Since you won’t be there to ensure your freshman doesn't sleep through class, be sure to pack an alarm—or several. If your freshman is a night owl with early morning classes, or if they struggle to wake up in general, you may want to invest in an alarm that forces them out of bed before it will turn off, like this flying alarm clock.

2. XL Twin Bed and Bed linens

Most beds in dorms are XL twin frames—which are the same width as normal twin beds, but with six additional inches in length. So be sure to get twin XL sheets for your freshman. Dorms usually supply a bed and frame, but you can often bring your own twin XL bed if you wish.

3. Clothes Hangers and Racks

While we know most of your freshman’s clothes will probably spend most of the time on the floor instead of in their laundry basket, be sure to pack clothes hangers and racks just in case. Living on your own does tend to make you more responsible.

4. Computer

If your freshman does not already have a personal computer, now is the time to invest in one. While colleges have computer labs all over campus, they are not open 24/7, and your freshman will always need to have access to a computer for schoolwork—and for the social aspects of school, too.

5. Desk Lamp

A desk lamp will be essential for all those times your freshman will be up late, or all night, working on a term paper. At least a desk light is an upgrade from burning the midnight oil.

6. Laundry Baskets

This should really be called the catch-all basket for how it will be utilized by your freshman. Considering its flexible utility, be sure to invest in a couple of laundry baskets—preferably the mesh collapsible kind.

7. Storage Boxes and Stackable Crates

Dorms are notoriously small, which makes space (and utilizing space well) a necessity. Storage boxes and other stackable crates are essential to making a dorm room livable.

8. Bath Towels and Bath Sheets

While you can donate some of the family bath towels from the linen closet to your freshman, you should consider getting them a new set or a least a bath sheet of their own. Bath sheets are slightly bigger than the standard towel dimensions of 27” x 52”, measuring a larger 35” x 60”. With a bath sheet you can decrease the chances of your freshman accidentally flashing anyone after a shower.

9. Bathrobe

If you want to further ensure the modesty of your freshman post-shower, you should invest in a bathrobe. And depending on the fabric, bathrobes are better than towels anyway.

10. Flip-Flops

Considering most dorm bathrooms are communal and may or may not be cleaned daily, your freshman should have a pair of shower flip-flops to help protect their feet from the gross bacteria that like to hang out in dorm showers.

11. Shower Tote

You know if your freshman tries to carry shampoo, conditioner, a washcloth, soap, razors, and more down the hallway, something—or everything—is going to drop. Save your freshman some humiliation and invest in a shower tote.

12. Kitchen Appliances

Some dorms already include small appliances in lieu of a proper kitchen, but if your freshman’s dorm does not, you will need to invest in a mini-refrigerator and microwave.

13. Dishes, Glasses, and Utensils.

While your freshman will not need a 12-piece dinner set just yet, they will need at least a dish set for two, glasses and utensils. Just because they’re a freshman, that doesn’t mean they are completely uncivilized.

14. Important papers

Your freshman needs to have their social security card, their drivers license/ID card, and all their banking information on hand and packed before they leave for college. Otherwise they won’t be able to register or pay for anything—which is the whole point of sending them to college, right?

This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you will need to pack for your freshman, but these are the essentials that will ensure that your freshman is at least properly outfitted for their first semester. As for the rest? You will have to leave that to time and experience.

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