A College Packing List for Big Kids Going Back to School

College Packing List for Big Kids Going Back to School - SavvyMom

Having six kids close in age meant that for a long time, “Back to School” involved purchasing countless little backpacks, pencil crayons, safety scissors, easy-to-open lunch containers, new shoes, and uniforms. I did a lot of shopping, organizing (and yes, labeling!) all the items I purchased for my crew of elementary school aged school-aged kids. The thought of a college packing list wasn’t on my radar.

Julie Cole's Three Grads - SavvyMom

Julie Cole’s 3 Grads

Fast forward a few years, and I am now preparing to send my fourth child off to university. I have now acquired a lot of experience with birds leaving the nest as they embark on their post-secondary education.

Back to school looks very different for our big-sized kids, but there are still must-have items for a college packing ist and things to consider when you have a kiddo heading off for residence living.

Upon high school graduation, my teens have always gone off to a traditional residence hall style in a double room with a roommate who is a stranger. For kids in a family of our size, they found only having to share a room with one other person quite civilized. With social media and all the apps available now, kids can often connect with their future roommates prior to moving in, which is helpful when deciding who is bringing what. You certainly don’t need two of everything in those small rooms.

Here is my college packing list of must-haves for residence living in first year of college or university…

University or College Packing List for Residence Living:

– Lysol wipes/cleaning supplies – for move in day, to make sure the room is clean
– Shower caddy – this will hold all their toiletries as they head to the communal bathroom
– Flip-flops or shower shoes for communal showers
– Bathrobe and slippers
– Bath towels
– Medications/birth control/first aid kit/sanitary products
– Clothing hangers
– Alarm clock (put that phone away)
– Extension cord and power bar
– Laundry basket or bag for communal laundry facilities
– Laundry detergent
– Noise cancelling headphones (residence living can be loud!)
– Bedding, including a mattress cover or foam cover for comfort
– Fan – early in the school year, those rooms are hot, and often with no AC
– Bar-sized fridge (confirm with residence policy)
– Printer (My experience is that one roommate brings the fridge, and the other brings the printer to share both)
– Computer paper
– Thumbtacks for a bulletin board. Blue tac for posters
– Clothes. Note – if your student is close to home, only send seasonal clothes. They can get all the winter boots/coats when they get home for Thanksgiving. If the child is out of province/state, pack for all seasons
– Desk lamp
– Photos of family and friends, decorations for bedroom – posters, throw pillows, etc.
Mabel’s Labels. Yes, we have mature/age-appropriate labels for this age group.

What Not to Pack:

It is equally important to consider what NOT to pack. Leave these items off the list:

– Candles and incense
– Space heaters
– Loudspeakers
– Drinking/Drug paraphernalia

And more important than any college packing list, send your kids away knowing that you are confident in them and that you will honour their independence while providing support. The transition can be tough, particularly for this cohort, who has spent a lot of time with their parents through the Covid times.

This will be a big change for everyone in your family. You’ve got this!


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