Preparing your teen for the college dorm life? Not-pack

You have shared a home for life and felt safe in the knowledge that child of yours was just a bedroom away. Now, you’re sending your teen off to start a new chapter in an unknown place, possibly hundreds of miles away, without you.

Dropping a child off to college for the first time can be an emotional transition. And in that stunning run-up to the final goodbyes, overbuying, and packaging are easy to make mistakes, as parents, hope to inoculate their teens against each peer scenario.

“Sometimes we don’t know what to do with emotions,” so that the parents channel them in packaging and shopping productive, said Beth Miller, a coordinator for residence life at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has been involved in life on campus for the past 17 years. “But sometimes the parents purchase more based on emotion and not necessarily based on need.”

It is natural to want to send your child with all the dorm room supplies necessary for the college of law, and overbuying is “an expression of love,” says Mary Dell Harrington, co-founder of Grown & Flown , a website for parents of high school and college students.

“But their success has nothing to do with the perfect comforter,” she says. “It has to do with actually doing the work and making friends and having a sense of belonging. These are not things that we can impact as their parents. What we can do is help out with the comforter shop.”

Some packing tips from the experts:

For the first two XL-sheet is even selected, the first stop on the road to buy exactly the right amount of should the college website.

Many universities have a list of the items and the facilities that come with each room. Some are for the dimensions of the room, the under-the-bed space and the best size rug for the space. They also have a list of prohibited goods (possibly certain devices) and a packing list.

Make sure the room is equipped with a trash can or lamp. There Is a handy print center or does the student need a printer? Will your student walk down the hall or in the quad, to the was to do? Some campuses allow twinkle lights, others do not. “Each of these things will determine what you buy will probably be,” Harrington said.

Your child does not need or have room for everything on the college packing list, Harrington says. “These are millions of things that your child may need,” Harrington says. “As an alarm clock: Maybe it is your child accustomed to the use of their phone as an alarm clock.”

When shopping, focus on the needs of your child for their specific dorm room, Harrington advises. Start with the basics and a few extras, and then plan on running the shop after the move-in to pick up a few useful items, such as a hook for those wet towel or a fan if it is warm. Of course, students can order online.

Your child is involved. “Students have the lead,” Miller says. “Ask them what they think they need.”

In order to save in the dorm room, roommates should talk about what they bring to avoid duplication, and check what’s in a dorm can provide, such as vacuum cleaners and microwave ovens.

Instead of thinking about what the student needs for the school year, Miller recommends bringing enough for the first two weeks. That means that students don’t necessarily have their warmest jacket on as the cold is not due to arrive for a family weekend, or a trip to a house. And don’t forget a couple of things that make the college feel at home, such as photos or posters.

Students should skip something on the list that they haven’t used at home, with a few exceptions, Miller says. That consist of items that will help you with a roommate problem, such as earplugs and an eye mask. Or, for students who need to walk through the hall to the bathroom, a shower caddy, shower shoes and something to cover it with his recommended.

To save money, Harrington recommends that families shop their closets first.

“They do not have to put their child with all the new stuff at the university,” she said. “It failed, and it is difficult for children to keep things orderly and clean in a dorm room because it’s such tight quarters.”

Don’t forget, the room does not need to be perfect on day one. And parents, so full of hope and excitement for their child on move-in day, are many ways to tell their children that they love and care about them without spending another dime or making a trip to the car.

“Show by means of a hug, show by means of an sms message, it shows by means of an e-mail or a letter you leave them on their desk,” says Miller. “You can show them that all without the physical and financial burden of over-purchase and over-packing.”


Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook .

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