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What to pack for your child's first year at college

Sending your child off to college for his or her freshman year can be stressful for both parent and child. You want him or her to get a good start in life with a good education, but you're afraid the house will feel rather empty without a teenager's energy. One way to help mitigate this anxiety is to help your new freshman assemble all of the gear he or she will need to enjoy that first year away:

First-year college dorm essentials

  1. Sheets. Several sets of sheets are essential for every dorm resident. Hypoallergenic sheets will help your student sleep easily at night, even when the windows are open on a fall or spring day. You might also consider a waterproof bed sheet or waterproof sheet set. Many dorm residents use their beds for everything from sleeping to eating dinner, and such sheets can help minimize the mess. 
  2. Towels. Two sets of towels are also a good idea. That way one set can be in the wash while the other is being used. Each set should include a large bath sheet, a hand towel and a wash cloth.
  3. Small appliances. While you can certainly get carried away in this category, a few well-chosen appliances can make life lot easier in the dorm. Consider a coffee maker, a microwave (if allowed) and a hot pot for soups and hot beverages.
  4. Lighting. Dorm lighting is notoriously bad and usually consists of glaring overhead fixtures. Make your child's living space more enjoyable and more homey with a desk and/or floor lamp.
  5. A couple of house plants. Plants keep the air in your child's room fresh and clean, and they also add a warm, personal touch to the living space. Easy-to-care-for houseplants include ferns, rubber plants, philodendrons and snake plants.

Packing for that first year in college doesn't have to be stressful. Simply assemble all of the basics, such as sheets, towels and small appliances, and send your child on his or her way well-prepared.