It is projected that 18.4 million students are enrolled in the nation’s colleges and universities this fall. (U.S. Census) When a child leaves home for the first time to attend their freshman year in college, it can be more traumatic than their first day in Kindergarten, for both the winged wanderer AND the parents. It never fails that some of those little winged wanderers just cannot handle the freedom, the exploration, and the intellectual overload. When anxiety sets in, the first thing a winged wanderer will do – PARTY! Some may do a little too much partying and lose their way. So, having been through this experience with my own children, my nieces, my nephews, and my own friends, I have put together the checklist for the top 10 back-to-school LOVE necessities for first year college freshman.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 1
A digital picture frame loaded with 200 of your greatest times at home. They are on sale now at Kodak EasyShare Gallery online. They will even load your pictures on a memory card prior to shipping if you upload your pictures to their online gallery.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 2
DVDs and CDs at Buy.com are on sale now for back-to-school savings. Send your winged wanderer off to their freshman year of college with your favorite movie and music that you shared together at home. My daughter and I used to watch The Ten Commandments every Easter and listened to Peter Paul and Mary’s Puff the Magic Dragon all the time when she was little. I put those in her college duffel bag so she would remember that her Mom loves her.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 3
A phone card worth $50 or $100. You can buy these at any convenience store or grocery store. Even though your college freshman surely has a cell phone, there are many situations where the cell phone will not work. In emergency situations, many cell towers are “down” and no signal can be reached. In some cases, your “responsible” college freshman may have forgot to charge the cell phone battery. My nephew believes that his daughter is so ditsy that she will either lose her cell phone or have it stolen with her purse. I never leave home without my cell phone AND a $100 phone card as back up.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 4
A box of their favorite condoms. Boy or girl, every college freshman must have safe sex if they are going to have sex. For many college freshmen, this is the first time they will engage in sexual activity. Some will be embarrassed to buy condoms themselves. Better safe than sorry, even if you don’t think your winged wanderer will have sex in college.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 5
Borders.com gift card with your picture on the front. Borders.com has a new gift card that can include any picture you send them on the front of it. Make it for around $100 so your college freshman can use it for months to purchase several books while being reminded on you, home, and your strong learning and studying values.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 6
Make a small scrapbook that will fit in your college freshman’s desk drawer that includes all your favorite memories of times spent together. The scrapbook can include awards from elementary school and high school, pictures and news stories about athletic achievements, or just some good old pictures of special events like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and passages of right like christenings, baptisms, or graduations.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 7
A framed print of your hometown to hang or place by their laptop computer on their desk. When my daughter grew up we volunteered at Austin Aqua Festival for five years and attended all of the Old Pecan Street Art Festivals in Downtown Austin. We have exciting memories of those days, like dancing on the stage with Chuck Berry. When she went to college, I sent a framed print of Austin from the Aqua Festival and a framed print of the Pecan Street Festival.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 8
A T-shirt bed quilt or throw blanket. My mother-in-law asked each of us to give her 12 to 15 old t-shirts that we no longer wore but that represented special memories in our life. We gave her t-shirts like Texas Longhorn Championship, the Bruce Springsteen concert, Camp Winiwaka where my daughter went every summer, We Survived the Hatch Green Chile Festival, an Aqua Festival t-shirt and others. My mother-in-law made bed quilts out of those t-shirts for our Christmas presents one year. It remains the most special holiday gift we have ever received. If you do not make quilts, see if there is a senior or church organization that makes quilts as a fundraiser.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 9
A birthday calendar with all the names, birth dates, and addresses for your college freshman’s relatives and friends. It is amazing how many times my daughter either forgot someone’s birthday, or emailed me to ask for the address. You can also throw in a box of blank birthday cards, some return address labels, and some postage stamps to make it extra easy for your college freshman to remember their roots.
Back-to-School Necessity Number 10
If your family is spiritual, don’t forget the Bible. If your family is not spiritual, you can pack a little book of inspirational or motivation sayings to get them through tough times. In their Bible or motivational book, you can make some little book marks by taking favorite pet pictures or house pictures, put some little “love” sayings on them using stickers from Hobby Lobby and them get them laminated. Hide them in pages of the book so it is a surprise when your college student finds them.
May all your college freshman days be successful, happy memories!