The Overwhelmed Parent of a College Freshman!

Extra-long twin sheets? Is that even a thing? Shower shoes? Where is my child showering that they need special shoes to clean themselves? Laptop locks? Who is robbing them….this is on-campus housing???

I recently helped my cousin move her 17-year-old daughter into the UC Berkeley dorms.  On move in day, Durant Avenue was riddled with wide-eyed teens and panic stricken parents with a ridiculous number of boxes to move into ridiculously small rooms.  Having your child move out of your home for the first time is an overwhelming experience for anyone.  Here are some tips to help smooth the transition:

What to pack:

Your child does NOT need to pack up every last iota of their bedroom to take with them to school.  Most kids will be significantly downsizing in terms of space…especially closet space!  Suggest they pack as though they will be going on vacation for a month.  These are the clothes they will need.  If there really are pieces of their wardrobe that they find impossible to live without, they can pick it up when they come home for a visit!  So be sure not to sell their leftover belongings while they are away!

What to Buy:


Most colleges will provide freshman with a check-list of must have items.  These are great guidelines for what your typical freshman may need.  Do NOT use the list as a cause for panic.  Many stores such as PB Teen and Bed Bath and Beyond have dorm room kits that make shopping a lot easier.  I suggest buying as little as possible until you are actually in the space.  Remember, your child is going away to school…they are not moving to a 3rd World country.  There is nothing (other than you) that they will be missing that they will not be able to buy at a store nearby.  The essentials are:


Hangers (preferably Huggable Hangers…they take up less space in your closet and clothes never slide off!




Shower Caddie/ Toiletries

Everything else, they can survive with or without!

Where to buy things:

Bed Bath and Beyond


Pottery Barn (their teen line for dorms is excellent.  Most of these items are only on sale through their website key word DORM)


Costco (for hangers, comforters, towels, mattress covers, snacks)

Container Store

*For kids going to school out of state, I strongly suggest making your purchases online and picking up the items at the store location nearest your school.  It is not worth packing up anything you do not already own. 

What to do when its time to go home:

For many of you the hardest part of the move will be leaving your child to settle into their new “homes.”  It’s obviously an incredibly emotional time…but trust in the amazing job you did raising them.  They already made it into college.  Now you need to give them a big hug, take a picture to commemorate the occasion, head home, and wait for them to come back with bags of dirty laundry!