10 Things Your College Student Will Need That They Might Not Think Of…But Mom Did

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Sending your teen off to college is a bittersweet experience. We are happy to see them fly, but sad to see them go. Fab Frugal Anna just dropped her daughter off for her second year of college. Freshman year is definitely a learning curve. Here are some things they have learned she needed, that a lot of parents and students might not think of. Also check out College Packing 101: Ten Essentials You Need + Advice from a REAL College Student.

Pepper Spray

College can be a scary place for more than one reason, and safety is a top concern. Sending your teen with pepper spray can give some added peace of mind for you, and for them. So does pepper spray really work? Experts agree that, when used correctly, pepper spray can be effective. Pepper sprays are not all the same, however. Self defense instructors recommend getting a spray that has a higher number of MCs (major capsaicinoides), a measurement of heat consistency of the product. The most highly recommended brands are SABRE Red and POM. Also make sure to read the labels and do your research to learn the right way to use the product. Using it incorrectly can cause more harm, than good for your college student.

Bed Risers and Storage Bins

College dorms, and even apartments, are usually super small, with no room for storage. College students will have to store everything they have in their little room. Clothing and accessories, bedding, food, toiletries, and school supplies, just to name a few. Send you student with bed risers to create storage under their bed, as well as storage bins. Shallow bins are best, as you can stack them on top of each other to create more organization than with a large bin. They won’t want to be rummaging around in a deep bin every time they need something.

Easy To Prepare Food

Some students will choose to sign up for a meal plan through their school’s cafeteria, and others will choose to buy their own food as they go. Either way, your student will need to take shelf-stable, easy to prepare foods. Even if your teen is signed up for a meal plan, they may not get enough to eat with their meal credits. Plus, college cafeteria food is notoriously bad, especially with current food shortages and cafeterias having a lack of employees. They will definitely need some extra food for meals and snacks.

Another thing to consider is that they will probably only have a small microwave to prepare their food, and a mini-fridge to store perishables. Most of their food will need to be stored in their under-the-bed storage containers. Single serving, shelf stable foods are the best. Don’t forget a plate, bowl, and silverware. Here are some suggestions:


Some college dorms and apartments are not equipped with air conditioning, especially if they are older. Think tiny room with a tiny window that only opens half way. Even if they do have air conditioning, it can get pretty stuffy. Send your student with a small oscillating fan to help them feel more comfortable. Remember to choose a small one, as they might not have a lot of space.

Surge Protector and/or Extension Cords

Outlets are limited in dorm rooms, and your child will have lots of things they need to plug in. Phone and laptop chargers, lamps, fans, etc. A surge protector that has several slots is a must. Extra points if they have smart plugs for charging their devices. They will also need extension cords so they can charge their electronics by their bed.

Mattress Pad

Dorm mattresses are often little more than a small pad, think hospital bed. Topping it with a mattress pad can help your teen to be more comfortable and sleep better. Make sure to check with the college to see what size the beds are.

Expert Tip: Some colleges will say that their beds are slightly smaller than a normal twin, and insist that you will need special sheets that you purchase from them. Regular, twin size linens and mattress pads work just fine.

Laundry Supplies and Change For Washers And Dryers

Chances are, your student will be doing their laundry at a laundry mat or in the basement of their dorm. They will need to take change to run the washers and dryers. It is also best to get a wheeled laundry hamper, so they don’t have to carry a heavy basket. They will also need laundry detergent and dryer sheets, dryer balls, or fabric softener.

Cleaning Supplies

Students are responsible for cleaning their own rooms. Make sure to send some disinfectant wipes or disinfectant spray and rags to keep their surfaces clean. They will also need window cleaner and electronics cleaner. Check with your college to see if they will have hard floors or carpet, so you can the supplies to clean their floor. For hard surfaces, a Swiffer mop is a good space saver. If they have carpet, they will need a small vacuum.


No matter where you live, power outages can sometimes be a problem. Your student may find themselves sitting in a small dorm room with only a small window for light, not to mention power outages at night where they won’t have any light at all. Send them with a small, good quality flashlight, with at least 1,000 lumens, just in case.

School Supplies That You Might Not Think Of

We all know college students will need pencils, pens, and notebooks. Here are a few school supplies you might not think of:

Click HERE for more off to college ideas from Amazon.

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Categories: Back-to-School, Shopping for Her, Shopping For Him, Shopping For Teens
Types: Back-to-School
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