Adventures Of A College Parent – 2
As a parent of a new college student, I feel obligated to ensure my child is set up properly in his dorm room. He will be living there more than at home from now on, after all. I would like to point out that by this stage of life, my son is pretty self-sufficient. He knows how to cook, clean the bathroom (properly!), and do his laundry. He has been handling money for years and has made a budget. But, I am his mom.
After getting the news about his financial aid, my husband and I decided we would not help him with tuition. That doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t help in other ways, however. He would need textbooks, pens, paper, notebooks, dishes, sheets… the list seemed endless. The biggest question in my mind was, “How do I know what he needs and what is too much?” I am sure I am not the only new college parent asking that. I did what I do best in times like these, research.
I added a new board to my Pinterest page called “College Bound,” and searched for packing ideas, dorm room necessities, and even what not to pack. I used internet search engines to exhaustion. I asked other parents what their children were packing. The short answer that I discovered is, it depends.
It depends on the school, where the child (I can still call him a child at 18, can’t I?) will be living, and what items might be shared with roommates. My son’s college helpfully provides a list both online and in the welcome packet, and it is broken down into sections of items that are required, items that would provide more comfort, and items that are prohibited.
The prohibited list included weapons of any kind, drugs, and alcohol. Well, we could definitely work with that since my son isn’t even remotely interested in any of it. On the comfort list, there were things like posters or photos to decorate your dorm room, bicycle and lock, a personal fan, your computer, and a coffee maker. The required list was shorter and almost insulting. Students would need clothing appropriate for the season, a set of towels, cleaning supplies, first aid kit, and bedding in the size of twin XL.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I wasting time writing this out? Because of that last item: bedding in the size of twin XL. Did you know that the dorm rooms have different sized beds than the ones in your house? I didn’t. I went to college but never lived in a dorm.
Now there is an entire saga that goes along with attempting to obtain sheets for my son’s dorm bed. I will save that for later, as it deserves its own article. However, I will share with you the things we determined he needed besides blankets and towels.
The room has a dual refrigerator and microwave. I wasn’t sure he would be using either very much since we opted for the unlimited cafeteria meal plan, but to ensure he could use them if he wanted my mom and I purchased: a set of dishes including a dinner plate, bowl, teacup, silverware, utility kitchen knife, and a can opener. My son loves tea and soup, so he also has a large mug that can be used for soup. We also stocked his mini kitchen with two sets of dishtowels, dish soap, and Ziploc bags.
I really hope my son and his roommates have come up with some sort of cleaning schedule because I can just imagine the bathroom after several weeks of four young men using it. Regardless, I ensured he would be able to at least clean it when he knows I’m coming for a visit. We gave him cleaning rags, a spray bottle of Thieves Household Cleaner ready to use, and enough cleaner for at least 2 refills, laundry soap, a caddy to store supplies in, a toilet brush and plunger, and paper towels.
We opted to wait on a broom or vacuum because he wasn’t sure what his roommates would be bringing and didn’t want to take too much down on his first trip. Which reminds me, I need to find out if they need something to clean the floors with.
New College Parents – see all the dorm options when you visit a college. We didn’t, because my son was determined to get into the same building as his friends. Sadly, that did not work out for him as all the rooms were in that building were full by the time he was ready to select a room. As a direct result, we weren’t sure what his room looked like. The college website has photos, but those do not give you more than a general idea of what the layout. As mentioned, we gave him a caddy to store his cleaning supplies, and we got him a smaller one for his personal care items. We also bought a plastic drawer for him to store his dishes in. I convinced him that he needed a couple 3M hooks to hang things on, like his coat or backpack. I don’t think he’s used them yet. He took his locking trunk and a suitcase, and that was it.
The caddies have been handy, but he didn’t need the plastic drawer for dishes as the room has many cubbies, shelves, and drawers. The room we looked at during the college visit was basically a bed, desk, and closet, and he would have needed more storage containers in that room.
My husband and I visited him the weekend after he moved in, and I was that mom again and looked in all the drawers and cupboards. I thought for sure he would have to cram everything into a small space, but he really has a lot of room available for storage and organization. He has since purchased another fan because his room is on the top floor and gets pretty warm. He also got an ice cube tray, something I didn’t think about, and a desk lamp.
Honestly, he needed less than I thought he would. As a new college student, he is doing just fine. I, on the other hand, wish he would call or text more than once a week.