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Shopping essentials for college students

Congratulations, your child is leaving for college! This can be a very exciting experience for both children and their parents. However, it can also be an expensive one. In addition to tuition, books, room and board, you will also need to purchase some essential items to enhance your child’s college experience. If you are shopping on a budget, here are some fantastic choices for these college essentials.



Laptop computers

It’s difficult for a child to survive college without a laptop computer these days. Students need to use the Internet for research, as well as use the computer for papers and coursework. In fact, a laptop computer is required for some college classes.


In recent years the price of computers has decreased drastically. You can now get a quality laptop computer for under $800.


You can even find re-furbished models for as little as $100 each. Shop online and at your local computer or electronics store to compare prices and get the best deal. Dell, Best Buy and Circuit City oftentimes have terrific specials and rebate programs.


Be sure to talk with your child about what they need as far as computer specifications. If they are going to be downloading photos and videos, the computer will need a lot of storage space. If your child plays a lot of video games, then you will want a laptop computer with a high-quality video card.


Don’t forget computer supplies such as a printer, ink, disks, CDs, DVDs, surge protector, USB cords and other extras.



Every college student needs a backpack or a bookbag. A nylon backpack that is waterproof and durable is your best option. Bright colors or prints are fantastic choices because your child will be able to distinguish his bag easily from others. However, don’t choose anything too immature or obnoxious.


If your child has a laptop computer, a backpack that contains a padded area for a laptop is ideal. You can also purchase a laptop sleeve to protect the computer, then just slide the sleeve into the backpack or bookbag. and offers dozens of different kinds of backpacks and sleeves that are specifically designed for students carrying laptops. You can also find inexpensive options at local stores such as Walmart and Target


Refrigerator and microwave

A mini refrigerator is a great gift for a student going away to college. If transporting the refrigerator is a hassle, you can also arrange for your child to rent a mini-fridge locally near their college campus.


Check with the dormitory to make sure refrigerators are permitted before purchasing or renting a mini-fridge. The refrigerator should be big enough to hold bottled water, Gatorade, fresh fruits and snacks. A freezer compartment is a big plus for frozen dinners, pizzas and burritos.


A microwave or toaster oven will allow your child to cook quick meals anytime day or night. If your child is staying in the dorm, again be sure that these appliances are allowed.


You can buy a small microwave for under $50. A toaster oven is also convenient for students who don’t know how to cook, but want to heat up pizza or grill other food items.


Other small appliances

Alarm clock
Can opener
Cell phone or phone card
Coffee pot
Desk lamp
Hot plate
MP3 player
Portable Fan



Mattress pad
Two pillows
Two sets of sheets, including pillow cases
Four bath towels
Four wash clothes


School supplies

Pens and pencils



First aid kit
Laundry basket/hamper
Plastic storage containers/milk crates
Trash cans


Related back-to-school articles

What parents should know about college safety

10 must-haves for dorm living

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