College Dorm Survival Kit Ideas

The packages you drop in the mail after your college student settles in to campus life respond to the plaintive lists in email messages and phone calls. The survival kit you send along as your college student embarks on a collegiate adventure anticipates everyday needs. It's tempting to put together a basketful of cute and clever items, but don't forget the cramped confines and limited storage space of college dorms. Stick to the essentials for a useful sendoff kit.

Technology

Unless you already gave your aspiring scholar a new notebook or desktop computer as a high school graduation present, add one to the college survival kit, complete with a protective case for portables. If they’re already set in the computer department, a new tablet that syncs with their laptop and smartphone helps them stay ahead of their studies and enjoy the occasional movie break. Because of the value of these kinds of items, they're best presented in advance of the trip to campus rather than hidden as a surprise in a stack of notebooks or clean clothes.

Connections

The computer your freshman takes to college is just one of many items that need electricity at least some of the time. So do the digital camera, smartphone charger and other essential bits of supporting technology. Along with access to power, gadgets and gear need memory cards and connecting cables. Dorm rooms typically offer fewer electrical outlets than most of their occupants need, so pick up a power-conditioning outlet strip, USB cables and spare memory cards. For a nice surprise, tuck in a new audio dock for their MP3 player and a gift card for some new tunes.

Laundry

If you've gone over Laundry 101, you don't need to worry about them mixing bright-colored new T-shirts with white socks or skipping the fabric care tags and washing a dry-clean-only shirt. They may not have access to the high-efficiency washer you have at home, so make sure they have the right laundry products. Check the campus laundromat facilities and you may be pleasantly surprised to find HE washers right in the dorm. Whether they’re using current technology or relying on older washers, pick up a full set of laundry products that matches their laundromat’s capabilities, including sorting bags or baskets. If the machines require coins instead of operating off a university ID card, include a roll of quarters.

Utensils

You can't pack your entire kitchen, complete with healthful snacks and low-fat cooking, into a bag and ship it off with them. You can, however, include a full place setting's worth of microwave-safe plates and cups so they’re not stuck with fast food and snack machines in between meal services. If there’s access to a refrigerator in the dorm room, whip up something tasty that can survive the trip to campus to include a mouthful of home cooking. Gift cards from a range of stores near school make it easier for them to pick up the necessities that don't show up in their luggage.

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