Perfect Items For A College Care Package

Every year, thousands of young adults move into college dorms and every year parents send 'care packages' to help overcome homesickness. Here are some things to include in such packages.

Perhaps few rites of passage can rival the stress and confusion of the first day at college. For many students, this is the first time that they have ever left the safe and comfortable confines of home and family. Quite often, the first few weeks spent away from home are filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Dorm rooms are notoriously small and severely underfurnished. A new college student must learn to adapt to his or her new environment while still maintaining some connection to the hometown they left behind. This is never an easy transition to pull off, so parents often try to soften the blow through 'care packages'- small gifts sent to their young students as a show of support. These packages are treasured commodities in the sparse world of dorm living.

But what sort of items should parents include in such care packages? Besides the traditional money and junk food, what else would fit the bill?

Here are some ideas for perfect items to include in a college care package.

1. Rolls of quarters. Besides the usual pitch for spending money, college students often need quarters for laundry and late-night vending snacks. Many student centers also feature video game arcades that require coins. If you had already planned on sending your child some emergency cash, you may want to send a few rolls of quarters to encourage responsible spending. Students are less likely to waste their laundry money on extraneous expenses if it comes in the form of a heavy roll of silver.

2. Hometown newspapers. College students are eager to learn about the latest goings-on in the hometowns they have left behind. Some of their old classmates may have gotten married or have entered the military or are attending other colleges. Such information would be very welcomed by a homesick student, especially if their present living quarters are thousands of miles from home. Save up a good supply of local papers and send them periodically, or try to arrange for a subscription to be sent directly to the student's college address.

3. Videotaped letters from home. At first, this may seem like an awkward arrangement for parents, but the benefits may make the effort worthwhile. Besides the regular emails and written letters, you may want to videotape a family reunion or other occasion. Encourage the 'actors' to say a few words about your child's accomplishments in college, or share some of their own wisdom concerning college life. In addition, take pictures of any new changes in the household, such as a new car or a sibling's good news. If there have been new developments in their hometown, such as a new store or entertainment center, take a few shots of the new attractions. You don't have to be a professional videographer to get the shots that a student would love to see.

4. Playing cards. Almost every college dormitory has a favorite card game to play. Your student may find that having a new set of playing cards will make him or her very popular on weekend nights. Send one or two decks in your care packages.

5. Calling Cards. With an abundance of pre-paid phone cards to choose from, parents should have no problem finding one with suitable conditions and rates for your child. Calling cards encourage more frequent phone use, so your child can keep in close contact with friends and family during the rough times at school. Most calling card plans offer substantial savings over collect calls, as well. If you find that your first calling card is used up too quickly, it is very easy to purchase one with even more time on it.

6. Cleaning supplies. Depending on your child's natural cleaning habits, you may need to send a substantial supply of soaps and other cleaning aids. Room deodorizers could go a long way in the close quarters of an average dorm room. If your child has a computer or other sensitive electronic equipment, you may want to send the proper cleaning solutions or a can of compressed air for internal cleaning. Proper maintenance of their equipment now can lead to savings in the future. Encourage your child to use antiseptic practices when dealing with a contagious roommate. Laundry supplies would also encourage good hygiene when you're not there to supervise.

7. Coupons for food and entertainment. Along with the usual supplies of canned food and cash, you may also consider sending coupons or other discounts for things your student already enjoys. Pizza coupons are always good ideas, along with regular store coupons for staple items. Your child should be learning the economic survival skills he or she will need later on, so encourage them to shop wisely and take advantage of coupons and discounts.

8. Emergency supplies. This could include anything from a first aid kit to replacement batteries. Flashlights are always welcome for the occasional power outages that could strike. If your child carries a cellular phone for emergency calls, you may want to invest in additional batteries or charging units. Canned foods that have long shelf lifes may be useful when weather conditions keep your child away from the nearest food supply. If your child is taking a prescription medication, you may wish to send additional information on the medication so school personnel can assist in getting refills. You may also want to send updated lists of emergency contacts along with regular care packages. If your child's physician has changed locations or is no longer practicing, send the updated information to avoid confusion during a medical crisis.

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