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DS's grandma wants to go shopping!  DS will be visiting her in America in a couple of months, and she would like to buy him everything he needs for his dorm room.  She is talking sheets, pillows, duvet, laundry bag, bathroom caddie, boots, winter coat, etc. He will leave it all in Ohio until August when she will ship it to the university. He can only bring 2 suitcases from NZ and they are likely to be full of his math books and a few clothes!


So I was talking to my sister, she suggested things like hangers and an extension cord.  These are things I would never have thought of.  What else does DS need to bring? 


Grandma is not much into internet shopping, but my sister said that it might be easier/cheaper to buy the pillows/duvet on line at Target or some other store and that they will ship them to the university post office.  Can someone give me details on that or similar services. Both pros and cons.



Ruth in NZ

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Well, we haven't done college yet, but we have done camp! Depending upon the weather where he is, a fan can be a life-saver. Shower shoes, if he will be sharing. A footlocker is a nice thing to have; stuff can be packed in it for shipping and then it can double as storage (Especially, I would imagine, for seasonal items like coats. Also, a lockable one would be good for storing expensive things like electronics.). The extension cord suggestion is an excellent one; the more plug-ins, the better.


If you've  never become acquainted with Amazon Prime (and Grandma, too!), now is the time! It's very nice to be able to send little care packages with 2-day shipping. Things like microwave popcorn and Pocki can make a student very popular with peers!

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Mailing packages these days is really expensive! It’s going to costs her hundreds of dollars to mail all those dorm supplies!

I also recommend amazon prime.

Coats and boots can be ordered from ll bean in the fall and shipped directly to college too.

Not as much fun as in person shopping maybe for gram but much easier and much cheaper!


For example, a plastic shower caddy costs about $15 at bed bath and beyond or less at Walmart but would probably cost even more to mail due to box size needed.


College websites usually have a list of recommended items to bring for the dorms.

Edited by Hilltopmom
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Find the housing checklist.


Most colleges will have XL twin beds, which makes bedding hard to find.  Just be aware of what you're picking out and make sure it's the right size.


DS's college also offered packages that were comparable in price to buying everything new.  They were full sets that came with bedding, mattress pad, hamper, trunk, etc. to furnish a room completely.  If your college offers such a thing you will probably start getting emails in the next 2-3 months.  If anything, they provide a nice jumping off point.


Some smaller things my kid needed:


-iron/ironing board

-cleaning supplies and caddy


-ethernet cable (no wireless in the dorms)

-a set of dishes


He bought himself a keurig-like machine (about $30) and a coffee cup to take with him to classes, figuring it was better than running over to the chow hall every time he wanted a hot drink.

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Wow, thanks guys!


I know grandma wants to *shop* in person. So I'm guessing online just for the big things.


I was wondering if we could pack the small things in a couple of suitcases and each take one when we drop him off (we won't have our suitcases with us). Isn't it like 50 dollars

a checked bag? Is that a reasonable idea?

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The college itself is usually a good place to start; they usually provide a webpage with a list of things to bring -- and also things to NOT bring.


Beyond clothing, linens, bathroom items, needed electronics, and personal items, it will really vary on the student's needs, what the bathroom/bedroom of the dorm is set up for, and what the college allows. For example, does the bedding need to fit a regular twin, or extra-long twin mattress?


A big area where things are often prohibited are appliances such as irons, hot-pots, coffeemakers, and electric skillets -- for fire safety reasons. FYI: certain types of desk lamps are not allowed, due to potential fire hazard.


Some dorm rooms allow one mini-fridge and microwave, but the students sharing the dorm room need to coordinate who is bringing what. Also need to coordinate about what, if any, dorm room cleaning supplies or a small "stick vacuum cleaner" will be needed.


Check in to whether or not your student will need a computer printer (in addition to his laptop). DS's college turned in everything online, and never needed to print anything. If only a small amount of things need to be printed over the year, check and see if there is an on-campus printing service, or offer to pay for ink and paper and ask to use a fellow dorm-mate's printer. Others on this board have said that a printer was really needed at their student's school. So it all depends. Like all the other supplies. ;) 


If a mini-fridge and microwave are allowed, consider how likely the particular student is to prepare simple foods or wash up after, to guide you as to whether a small number of kitchen tools are needed -- or, if more like my DS, he preferred to NOT have to clean up (hard to wash up in a bathroom sink), so on one of the dorm runs to Walmart, he got a pack of paper plates and disposable spoons/forks, and used paper towels from his cleaning supplies for napkins. While he thought it was super-fun receiving a small cutting board, 2-knife set, a pyrex measuring cup, and a few dishware/silverware items -- he never used them. They just took up space in his little 2-drawer storage that he brought, and it was a pain to haul it to college and home again each year, when he never used it.


Also look in to what is allowed/not allowed as far as hanging posters, pictures, or anything else on the walls. Some colleges allow those "stick on" wall hooks, but others do not.


"Renter's insurance" might be something to look into, because if there is flooding or theft or other issue with the student's dorm room or personal items, many colleges do not take responsibility for damage or loss of personal items.


Ways of securing your personal electronics and meds are something important to consider adding to the list. Check out these past threads:

"Locking trunk?"

"Keeping things in a dorm room" 


More past threads with ideas:

"Before sending a student off to college" (to do list)

"Gwen's complete college supply list"

"What to take to college -- list of must haves?"

"What do they really need for the dorm?"

Edited by Lori D.
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Unless DS is going to school within driving distance of grandma, I would go with shipping from target, Amazon, or similar direct to the university.


Has anyone suggested command hooks yet?


You guys can go shopping to target or bed bath and beyond and put your initial choices in a gift registry list, then purchase to ship as much as you can online when you have your school address.

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You're pretty safe buying twin XL sheets, lol. Pillows and duvets will be expensive to ship; could they look for those and make detailed notes about colors, brands, and so on? 


A fabric laundry bag might not be too bad. dd has one that stands up with rods, but you can remove the rods to collapse it. 


It's really horrifically expensive to ship stuff, though. I would try to convince her to take him shopping but make detailed notes about what he likes, rather than buying it now. At least look up a few sample packages by size and weight so she knows what she's getting herself into. If she knows someone who works at a company with UPS shipping agreement, they will sometimes let employees pay to ship personal items, and their costs are much lower than doing it as a regular consumer. 


American stores can also be pretty overwhelming as to choice, so ds may not be able to make quick decisions on a short trip. 


Also, that's a super sweet grandma! 


Edited by katilac
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Bed, Bath, and Beyond has a service where you can purchase at their local store and then it will be available either on campus or at the local store come August. Grandma might like that. I recommend holding off on sheets and such as the twin XL are not very common until midsummer.


This starts about mid-May, so it depends on when he is going. 


JCPenney always has a variety of twin XL sheets, just FYI. They may not have them in the store, but they will have the same type/color and they will order the twin XL for you (shipped to home or store). 


Why yes, I did just oder dorm bedding from them for the second time, lol. 

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Yes, she is a super sweet grandma (dh's mom). She is actually paying for him to fly to attend the MIT admitted student's weekend. He flying into and out if her city first so they can spend time together and shop!. 😀


I like the idea of putting items on a gift registry. I still think suitcases might work for small items, as it is just 50 dollars per bag up to 50 pounds last time I looked.

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Less than you think.

DD took a bunch of things she did not end up using.

DS took way less. You can always acquire more.


Bedding, towels, shower caddy, shower sandals

desk lamp, school supplies

power strips with multi outlets and surge protector

a wire shelf consisting of several cubes, and a folding armchair

Edited by regentrude
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For appliances, check what is allowed, and wait to see what he may need. Some things may be available in the dorm kitchen.

DS has a small kettle and a french press.

His room mate got a microwave but they have not unpacked that yet. he was supposed to get a mini fridge, but turns out they don't need one, so he got a printer instead.

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If he will be in a room with a shared bathroom or a private bathroom he won't need shower shoes or a caddy.


Dorm policies are always good to know - at my daughter's you can bring your own fridge i think but if you want a microwave you have to rent their combo.


Desklamp, slim extension cord, thumbtacks for posters, plate, bowl, fork, spoon, hangers, laundry bag, blanket...


And for the summer storage we are looking into boxcamp - they deliver boxes at the end of the year and then pick up the filled boxes. Then you set up delivery for the fall upon your return. Good for kids without cars.

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So many ideas I never would have thought of, thanks guys!  Off to make a list and talk to grandma. :001_smile:   


DS currently has 1 pair of jeans, 2 pairs of shorts, 3 short sleeve tops, 3 long sleeve tops, 1 polar fleece, 1 down vest, 1 rain jacket, 1 exercise outfit, and 1 dress outfit. We have a small home and I wash frequently. Plus, ds hates to shop (except with grandma I hope!)  Seems to me that he will need to double or even triple his wardrobe. Maybe grandma could focus on that instead of dorm room supplies.  

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yes, more clothes is a good idea, because he will NOT want to do laundry frequently. It is inconvenient with the schedule (you have to be available to move your clothes out of washer and dryer when the cycle is done, or somebody else will dump them out), even if facilities are located in the dorm. PLus, it may be expensive and not cost effective to wash one pair of jeans and a handful of shirts


Edited by regentrude
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yes, more clothes is a good idea, because he will NOT want to do laundry frequently. It is inconvenient with the schedule (you have to be available to move your clothes out of washer and dryer when the cycle is done, or somebody else will dump them out), even if facilities are located in the dorm. PLus, it may be expensive and not cost effective to wash one pair of jeans and a handful of shirts


DS did wear pants several days running, but had at least 3-4 pair so he could stretch doing laundry to about once every 10-14 days -- or have spares to change in to in case he did something very active and stunk up his clothes, or if they got wet or muddy from weather. It can be difficult to schedule time to do laundry, even when there is a facility only 1-2 floors away in your dorm building...


Also agreeing with Regentrude about keeping an eye on your laundry to move it to the dryer. DS lost a few socks and a shirt over time... But then he mysteriously gained a shirt that was left in a dryer that he didn't notice until back in his room, so I guess it all evened out...  :laugh:

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I'm another over-buying mom who sent way too much to college with her son the first year. Most of it returned home at the end of freshman year untouched...all those nice office supplies, the second set of sheets, the first aid kit, etc etc!! 


Lewelma, if your son ends up going to MIT, what he'll need to bring is somewhat dorm dependent, too. My son needed some basic kitchen stuff (that did get used daily :) ) because he opted for one of the dorms where you didn't need to be on a cafeteria meal plan. But he didn't know that till dorms were assigned in the summer. And then he didn't even end up in that temporary assignment, but opted to move during the reassignment period at the start of freshman year.



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Just a heads' up about XL twin bedding:  there will be tons of it in the stores in late spring, early summer, but it will be much harder to find right before classes start.  My daughter did a study abroad the summer before she officially matriculated, so she was not home to shop for dorm stuff until late July.  By then, pickings were slim, to say the least.  It may not matter so much for a boy, and it's not like there wasn't anything left, but you could tell there had been a lot more choices a month earlier.  So, all that is to say that if Grandma wants to get an early start, bedding is a good option.  And I second the recommendations to go ahead and stock up on winter gear.  My southern girl is not leaving for Toledo until August, but we've already started outfitting her because we know that, between school and swim, she will not have time to shop for a parka, etc., during the middle of the semester.

And FWIW, I just shipped a massive pile of t-shirts to the woman who is making my daughter's t-shirt quilt; it took 2 moving boxes to fit everything, and it was only about $25 to ship via UPS.  UPS charged me another $10 for the boxes, but I guess because t-shirts are pretty light, I didn't think the price for the shipping was crazy.

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I also think shipping from Ohio does not make much sense.


I suggest that Grandma call LLBean and request catalogues that would have their clothing including boots and jackets, their backpacks/bookbags, their bathroom gear hanging bags, and their sleeping bags, and at the same time, ask if they by any chance carry XL sheets--they definitely do have regular size sheets, pillows, cases etc.  An unzipped sleeping bag in a duvet cover may be a good option. Look through catalogues together with ds when he visits her, figure out his sizes etc., and a great deal of what he needs can be gotten that way with pretty high quality and direct shipping to him as he may need it. Ask the uni how early things can be sent to them--ie, can a set or two of bedding, bathtowel, pillow, soap, laundry detergent etc., be there waiting for him when he gets there?  Some schools also have a bedding service option to consider.  LLBean can all be done via phone and catalogues, so there need not be any internet that Grandma is not so into.


A student prime type membership at Amazon could help get him things like hangers and extension cords, sheets, pillow,  broom etc., maybe even used textbooks, quite fast if he needs them, and a gift certificate from Grandma could help with that.


Other things that could be helpful?  Maybe a bike to help get around fast if campus is large enough and they are allowed?

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regular clothes:  To start he may need a bit more than what he has, but not a lot (it won't be cold yet).


Enough underwear and shirts to get through a week or two (whatever the laundry frequency will be), and a good plan for how to wash things weekly or every other week (and make sure he knows  and where the machines are and how to use them, etc.)  More socks than you think, ideally all identical or just two types, since these tend to get lost IME. Black athletic socks can work both for everyday and for dress at that age, usually. If there is a laundry room very close to his dorm room and where he could do a reading assignment while waiting for laundry to be done, he may need less if more frequent washing would be easy.


An extra pair of long casual pants -- jeans or chinos or something. One or two pair pants or shorts that can be lounged in and slept in.  Possibly some sort of bathrobe if he has to walk through a hallway to the bathroom. Possibly flipflops for in the shower (to avoid athletes foot).


For winter he'll need a winter jacket with hood (and/or a separate hat), gloves, boots and socks to go with boots, for sure.  Probably a couple/few more long sleeve shirts and/or another fleece top.  One or two base layers might help unless he tends to run hot, or won't spend much time outdoors. Possibly a scarf or balaclava type thing for his face in coldest times. 


If he gets involved in some sport, he may need things for that, or more short sleeve T's.



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When my roommate drove to college all those years ago, she had ONE steamer trunk and a computer and that was it!  I think that was about all that would fit in the car with the three of them and the size of the computer and printer in 1987.  :tongue_smilie:


So the trick is to try to get grandma to be reasonable, because whatever they buy will have to go there.  She has been talking to her friends at the gym (she is 87!) and they have told her all the cool places to shop.  I'd love to be a fly on the wall when she tells ds that it is no longer cool to wear jeans (based on her friends' reports) and they have to buy chinos.  DS is definitely NOT into fashion. And not into chinos.   :001_smile:


I also think that it may be worth $300 in shipping to give grandma the treat of shopping with her grandchild for 4 days.  She loves to shop, and she is 87 and has nothing else to do.  She is good with Lands End and LLBean, though, so will remind her to get some catalogs before ds arrives. 

Edited by lewelma
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She can shop, just don't buy, the "household items." Target or Best Buy will give them a scanner to scan sheets, towels, etc. When DS gets his school address, she can buy things from the gift registry and ship directly to the school (or store pickup if that's more convenient at his destination).


I'd have them just buy the clothes. Since clothes change out quickly, you can't do that by the gift registry system.

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Don't know about other areas, but jeans are still worn at the uni nearest us.  Chinos fold smaller and dry faster though.  I see a lot of shorts worn over leggings, which could put his shorts to use even in winter, but that may be too casual for MIT area. 

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Here was ours:




College List




cell phone/charger (2)

water bottle

glasses (2 pairs plus sunglasses)



Computer Supplies:




flash drive


ethernet cable

powerstrip (2)

external hard drive for backups



School Supplies:





post its

index cards

Lined paper



3-hole punch


paper clips/ Binder clips

lap desk


2 calculators (graphing/scientific)

summer reading


Scotch tape

desk draw organizer thing - with compartments (I loaded this up with the small items from above above and wrapped the entire thing in cling wrap or transporting)





playing cards

Keyboard and sheet music

whatever else he wants



Dorm Room:



desk lamp

back of door towel hooks/rack - got some large command hooks

clothes hangers

alarm clock


lots of command hooks of various sizes

white board one-month calendar


Bed & Bath:


mattress encasement

mattress topper (foam)

mattress pad

1 sets twin XL sheets

1-2 extra pillow cases

sleeping bag

light cotton thermal blanket


2 pillows

2 towels



Daily Meds & Toiletries:


Shower caddy

any meds the student takes daily


dental floss


face wash

body wash



electric razor

hand sanitizer

nail clippers




laundry basket or bag


stain spray

dryer sheets




Go To Box - Medical Box (used a plastic tote with a lid and handle):


anything specific for the student's medical needs


bug spray

bandaids/triple antibiotic


bug bite gel

spare toothbrush

acne cream




naproxen sodium


cough suppressant

allergy eye drops


cough drops


Q-tips (need a container or just a ziploc to put some in)


lip balm


athlete's foot spray

reusable heat/cold pack

Cortisone creme



Go To Box - Other box:


sewing kit

safety pins

screwdriver - actually received a toolkit/tools for graduation and took that

duct tape

zip ties

sharpie marker

head lamp

hand crank flashlight / USB charger

ear plugs

spare lightbulbs for desk lamp

batteries (I included a list of everything he was taking that required batteries, and what kinds they needed)

notes cards and stamps

solar-powered radio


N.B. Go to boxes went on top shelf of bookcase in the room as they didn't need to be accessed every day.




your kid can probably figure this out


2 sets dressier clothes (shirt, tie, dress pants, belt, socks)

dress shoes

good rain jacket




duffel bag (smaller one for weekend trips, plus big ones he moved stuff in with)

Ziploc bags - quart size for plane trips



Move-in Day items

Cooler with drinks/waters/fruit

granola bars / other snacks

trash bags

cleaning wipes

paper towels



be sure to pack separately (backpack) laptop and anything else valuable or that would be very bad if misplaced (prescription meds) and personally hand carry to room when you move in.



The go-to boxes were basically each the size of a shoe box, so even though the contents lists for them are long, items contained within were small.

Edited by Hoggirl
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OP, I just want to say that I feel your pain. My mother-in-law always wants to give "things," rather than cash. I understand this, but giving cash is usually so much more practical. Could they maybe shop and select *without* purchasing?? Get an idea of what he might need $-wise to get what he wants but then do the actual purchasing later? Shop and create a list together, select a color-theme together, etc. She could give him the money and then maybe he could send her pics or a video tour of the dorm room narrated by him once it's all completed? "Look, Grandma! See how great the pop-up laundry hamper we selected on our shopping trip works in this corner of the room! That was a great idea you had!"


One other thing - you mentioned your Ds packing math books in suitcases when he comes over. Pretty sure international flights have a specific weight limit which gets extremely pricey after a certain amount. We had friends whose daughter was going to China for a school year, and they posted pics on FB of her frantically pulling items out of her overweight suitcase on the floor at the airport. I really think she said it was going to cost some crazy 4-digit amount of money to get that bag there if she didn't get the weight down. This may be airline specific - not sure.


I have always heard it's best to wait to purchase winter wear in the area when the student arrives. Less to pack going and the student can get a sense from other students what items and brands are best/preferable.

Edited by Hoggirl
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Great list, Hoggirl! :thumbup1:   From NZ he will be able to bring 1 carry on (his violin) and 1 suitcase (his clothing, max weight 50 lbs).  We will probably need to buy a second suitcase as I can't see how he can get clothes, shoes, violin music, backpack, electronics, a few favorite books in 1 suitcase. The rest will be purchased in April with grandma and I will *definitely* tell her about the gift registry and direct shipping info. We will be in the USA in August but nowhere near stores (mountains of NC and upper MI), and we have no intention of shopping in Boston if he ends up there.  In fact, I'm not convinced we are spending the night on move-in day given the cost of hotels in that city! The rest will have to be Amazon prime.  Sounds like some schools have an international move-in a few days early, so I'll look into that.


DS is good with light weight packing.  He traveled with his grandpa in Mexico for 8 days with 14lbs in total. :-) 

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Ruth, how far is Grandma from likely college of choice? Could she drive/be driven there in the fall? That way the two of them could shop together AND she could deliver the stuff in fall, giving her an excuse to see her grandson at college?


Sadly, too far.  12 hours by car. 

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Does he drink hot drinks?  If he wants good coffee, a French press might be a good idea.  If he drinks tea or cocoa packets, then an electric kettle is a good idea.  If he drinks real cocoa, then he will need to use someone else's microwave.  Mug.  Spoon.  Knife for spreading peanut butter or whatever.  A plate is good, but the more dishes, the more dirty dishes tend to accumulate, so minimalist might be better. 


He will need hiking boots for the salty, slushy, snowy streets in winter.  A really nice brand of socks is Smartwool.  They are robust and non-sweaty (a problem with hiking boots in classrooms).  He will want a parka, hat, and gloves.  He will need an umbrella.  A "shell" can double as a spring jacket and raincoat.


If he is an athlete, he will need plenty of workout clothes because doing laundry is inconvenient.


He is going to a city, so buying consumable things like laundry detergent and toiletries shouldn't be hard.


Does MIT have specifications for calculators and laptops?  My son's tech school dealt with the whole hacking/cheating issue by making almost everything collaborative and having a wacky grading system.  I don't know how MIT deals with it.  The problem with a tech school is that a portion of the students are going to be hackers, good and curious ones, and even if they aren't outright trying to cheat, they may not have bought into the "system", since the typical US school social system may already have made them outcasts.  I imagine he already has this figured out, if he is the mathy student I am thinking he is?  But it might be worth double checking?


School supplies like notebooks should be easy to get on campus, but if he is persnickety about some of them (like notebook size), then he might want to bring that with him instead of letting Grandma.


If he doesn't care what he looks like, he probably won't need that much in the way of clothing - a hoodie, a few pairs of pants, bathingsuit, shorts (if he wears them), workout clothes if he needs them or has a gym class, enough teeshirts that he doesn't get to doing laundry one week he will survive, socks, sandals, sneakers, boots, and outdoor stuff.  If Grandma is 12 hours away, she may not know what students are wearing in Boston.  It depends which direction she is.  If she is 12 hours south, she might not.  If she is 12 hours north, she probably can guess.  I don't know anything about west.  (My world is the area two hours from the coast going north from Boston about 6 hours.  By car.)


AS mentioned, he will need extra long sheets.  Will he use a top sheet?  Or just a duvet?  Remember that his bed is probably going to be his main living surface.  A bedspread might be a good idea?  One of my children avoided the whole issue by using a cheap sleeping bag that he put through the wash every once in awhile.  He put a bottom sheet under it.  He will need enough pillows that he can sit up in bed.  If he isn't a desk person, a lap board or large tray or something for a bed work surface is good.


Desk lamp, waste basket, and extension cords.


Toiletries and a bucket or something to get them back and forth to the bathroom.


Whatever games he likes (a good way to make friends).


Stackable milk crates are great for holding books.  You can build bookcases out of them and store the books in them in the summer.


My boys tended not to put their clothes away after doing laundry, so more than one laundry basket was essential - one for clean and one for dirty.  They are good for carrying bedding and stuff in and out of the dorm, too.  Nesting works better.  Tall thin ones are not good if you are fishing in them for your clean clothes.


He will want a fan.  Definitely.  For white noise, if not for the coolth.  His dorm may or may not be air conditioned and Boston can be hot in Sept.


He will need good headphones, ones that block out the noise.


He will need a good bookbag.


Depending on what sort of learner he is, a whiteboard and markers can be nice.  And/or a large calendar.


Those are the things my boys took.




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Great list, Hoggirl! :thumbup1:   From NZ he will be able to bring 1 carry on (his violin) and 1 suitcase (his clothing, max weight 50 lbs).  We will probably need to buy a second suitcase as I can't see how he can get clothes, shoes, violin music, backpack, electronics, a few favorite books in 1 suitcase. The rest will be purchased in April with grandma and I will *definitely* tell her about the gift registry and direct shipping info. We will be in the USA in August but nowhere near stores (mountains of NC and upper MI), and we have no intention of shopping in Boston if he ends up there.  In fact, I'm not convinced we are spending the night on move-in day given the cost of hotels in that city! The rest will have to be Amazon prime.  Sounds like some schools have an international move-in a few days early, so I'll look into that.


DS is good with light weight packing.  He traveled with his grandpa in Mexico for 8 days with 14lbs in total. :-) 

might be cheaper to just get some clothes at Salvation Army, TJ Maxx,  etc - especially winter clothing!


Massachusetts only charges sales tax on high cost clothing items



Clothing is generally exempt from the sales tax. However, any individual clothing item that costs more than $175 is taxable on the amount it goes over $175. Thus, the tax on a $200 suit would be $1.56 (which is 6.25% of the taxable $25 difference).


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At both of my children's schools, what they needed depended on the dorm they were assigned.  DS is in a room with XL-full beds (not twin); until he knew what room he was in (not even what dorm because there are a few twin beds in his dorm) he could not buy sheets.  DD needed a shower curtain the year she was in a room without hall baths--DS is in a suite with a shower, but shower curtains are provided. 


Some dorms do not allow extension cords (but will allow surge protectors)  Allowed small appliances vary from school to school.


The items that I can think of that my DC needed no matter what the dorm set up were:


laundry bag, basket or container of some sort

Laundry soap

personal grooming items (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.)

coffee mug, cup, plates, utensils of some sort (microwave friendly is good)



paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, calendar

umbrella or rain jacket

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First Aid/Medicine kit.


I made sure he had enough cold/flu medicine for at least a week's worth of illness.   He doesn't drive and I am sure walking the 1/2 mile each way to the corner store would be difficult while sick.  


A few cleaning supplies.  Lysol wipes for sure.


My son is a bit of a minimalist and I had to make him take some things, like the first aid kit and medicine.  


But he has used it, so he ended up glad he had it.

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One thing we learned for our minimalist is that if he likes music or arts stuff at all (and it sounds like he does since he is travelling with his violin!) to be sure to pack one set of nicer clothes - shirt, tie, dress slacks.  Arts events come up often as free opportunities for students and usually need a bit nicer set of clothes.  DS balked about needing his good clothes, but got to see some great music performances and ended up using them quite a bit.


My Kids so far have all gone to college a long way from home:

Oldest DS went to college with just a backpack with some underwear since everything was provided for him (AF Academy)

Oldest DD went with two suitcases - one mostly full of music equipment and the other full of her performance clothes (music major) and a few other things to wear.  Amazon Prime delivered bedding, towels and laundry supplies with free 2-day shipping.  She carried on the plane her instrument and a backpack with her laptop.

Middle DS got driven to college since it was only 400 miles away.  He had one suitcase with clothes, a second with his winter gear (it gets to -40F there) and a laundry basket with his bedding and laundry supplies in it.  And his backpack with laptop.


With both my middle kids, they requested that I send them printers and papers (Amazon!) since printing stuff meant going across campus to another building.  But we waited until we found out if they needed them.  DS22 now NEVER submits paper - everything is done online so would not have needed it now.


Being a minimalist at college is good.  I would have Grandma buy him some clothes so he has more packing space for books, and mail those to him along with bedding they select and she has sent directly to the school closer to the arrival date.  She could also do the First Aid/Sick kit.  I ended up mailing one to all three of my kids the first winter away at school.

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Here are some ideas. Well, too much stuff, but some good recs.




I didn't read all the posts, but I believe that Bed, Bath and Beyond lets you select items in one store and will then have another store nearer school deliver to dorm.


I have also seen compact recharging stations, will try to find link.




Found it



Edited by Alessandra
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A first aid kit is a good idea.  A needle, thread and spare button might be too.


Though unlikely to be needed in a city, another item I'd tend to add, thinking of first aid, would be a key chain tick removal spoon.  They are small and not expensive and remove ticks without squeezing them which is helpful not to get tick borne illnesses. 

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