5 Must-Have Items for Your College Freshman 

By: Dr. Jill Grimes, author of The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness

You’re making a list and checking it twice…because especially if this is your FIRST kid heading off to college, you want to be sure you’ve included every critical item.  

  • Twin XL (Extra Long) Sheets? Check.  
  • Command Strips in every shape, size and strength? Check. 

(Much bigger deal for girls vs. guys, but this is the only way to hang stuff on walls.) 

  • Dorm Bed Risers? (I highly recommend the ones with extra outlets.) Check. 

Chargers, fan, laundry bag, clothes, shoes, coats…the list goes on. And on. And ON. What could possibly be missing? From my perspective as a seasoned move-in mom and a university doctor, here ‘s my list of the top five forgotten items:  

  1. Small Tool Kit: Hammer, screwdrivers, wrench set, pliers, scissors, tape measure and level.  This should be last in, first out, because you’ll often need these immediately to assemble and disassemble dorm room furniture or fix a stuck drawer. Pro tip: Add in a couple garbage bags; trash piles up as soon as you start unpacking. 
  1. Backup Prescription Glassesespecially for the kid that ALWAYS wears contacts! Why? Because if you get a bad stye or “pinkeye” (viral conjunctivitis), or more commonly, you accidentally fall asleep in your contacts or get something in your eye that scratches your cornea- you CANNOT wear contacts for several days to a week or more. And seeing clearly tends to help grades. If you always wear glasses, the backup pair is for when yours break or disappear. And inevitably, it happens during midterms or finals.  
  1. Small Lock Box: If you take prescription medications for ADD, this is a must. These stimulant pills sell for $5-10 each (a felony if caught!!) and dorm rooms are rarely private and/or consistently locked. Please remove the temptation for others and keep your meds safe. Lock boxes also work well for pricey jewelry, your passport, and while we’re at it, your backup glasses. 
  1. Heating Pad: Okay, not critical, but a great way to guarantee your popularity! Seriously, few students have these, but those that do tell me EVERYONE borrows it” for aching muscles, back spasms and “cramps. Bonus points: in cold climates they can double as an electric blanket (just don’t fall asleep on top of one, as this can cause burns.)  
  1. Solid Air Freshener: Plug-ins are rarely allowed in dorms, but you can place a solid or gel freshener in your closet (by your shoes) and tuck another under your bed. Extra-strong odors? Bamboo charcoal bags are a pricey option, but they work incredibly well. Choose a neutral or “fresh” smell, not “flowery” or citrus” as you don’t know your roommate’s sensitivity to different scents. Bodies, dirty clothes, third-hand smoke and old dorms all get very smelly. Unless you are moving into a brand-new dorm with a neat-freak roommate, these fresheners can be lifesavers. Or at the very least, roommatesavers.  

Bottom Line: Add these five items to your list for a smoother move-in and a healthier, safer semester! (If you’re flying, pack the glasses & shop for the rest when you arrive.) Good Luck! 

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