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10 Things every college freshman can actually use

If you’ve got a son or daughter heading off to college for the first time this fall, you no doubt already have a shopping checklist going. Obviously they’ll need basic things like bedding, cosmetics, books (duh) and electronics, but that’s just survival gear. There are many more things that will be vital to their college experience of which you haven’t even thought.

And no, I’m not talking about a hot plate (although those are pretty great, if the dorm allows them). I’m talking about the things that will make your freshman’s quality of life better in a pinch. Now don’t panic, but if it’s their first time away from home for longer than a month, they’ll probably still end up calling you for things they suddenly realize they need. You can prepare for only so many scenarios, after all. However, this list of items should cover a lot of bases that the average college manual does not.

1. At least 30 pairs of underwear

Image: Britney Rogers/Flickr

Yes, you read that right — 30 pairs of underwear. It may sound crazy, but laundry quickly becomes an overwhelming task at college, especially because they’ll end up doing it on the night everyone else has the same idea. More underwear just means they won’t end up going commando for a week during exams (I might be speaking from experience).

2. 3 Sets of headphones

Image: ls20100000/Flickr

Trust me. They will lose the first two before Thanksgiving break.

3. A Dustbuster and 2 boxes of Swiffer pads

They might have someone come in and vacuum the floors of their dorm room, but that’s about it. They’ll also be eating cookies in bed, putting on glitter for a night out and Lord knows what else. They’ll never love a cleaning appliance more that first year in college.

4. 1 Classic pair of jeans

Image: Kohl’s

Mothers of freshman guys, this is for you. He needs one great pair of jeans without holes in them to wear on dates, to those Friday night parties and with a nice button-down for when you visit and take him out to dinner. Levi’s 511 Slim Fit is my personal favorite — still room to breathe, but they give him a nice, slim line that automatically makes him look taller. They come in a ton of different colors, but the color “throttle” looks like it’ll go with most things.

5. A collapsible cup

Just a good rule of thumb to teach your kids: Unless it came in a sealed bottle or can and you opened it yourself, always pour your own drinks into your own cup. They can clean it out in the sink, collapse it and put it back into their bags. You just never know what’s in those big, red, plastic party cups.

6. Various gift cards

Image: 401(K)2012/Flickr

Sure, you’ll probably give them a debit/credit card, but they’ll love it if you secretly pack them with a bunch of gift cards to helpful stores nearby. Some suggestions might be Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, the local fast-food joint and a drugstore.

7. Several extension cords

No one really talks about needing these, but from personal experience, they will absolutely come in handy. Either the room will be set up where the outlet’s as far from their stuff as possible, or they could need one for a spur-of-the-moment movie night. There will always be a reason, and they’ll be glad to have a bunch.

8. At least 4 stain remover pens

Freshman year of college is all about quick, easy fixes. Stain remover pens will become a lifesaver — especially when they’re headed to a football game where they know their crush will be and an unfortunate spill happens on the way (true story).

This post was brought to you by Levi’s.

More on back to school

7 Back-to-school ideas I’m way too lazy to try
Should your teen wait to start college?
Here’s everything I need to tell my kid before he leaves for college

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