college packing list

College Packing List: The Stuff You Might Not Have Considered!

When your student heads off to college, you know there are certain things you’ll need to buy like a coffeemaker or those extra-long bed sheets. (Here’s a link to our super extensive list of those things) However, we have a college packing list of some things you may not have considered for your new college student.

First, please take some time to read this blog about what happens when your student turns 18. Some of these like privacy concerns can kick in when a student is 17 because they have started their postsecondary education. Be sure to review these considerations.


Yep. Expenses beyond room, board, tuition, fees, and books permeate the college experience! Pizza and cookies at midnight, an outfit for an interview, and on and on. Thinking about this now (and how you plan to actually get the money to your kid) is going to help.

We would suggest you consider equipping your student with a credit card in addition to their personal debit card. Together, you and your student can agree on when the debit card (their money) is used and when the credit card (your money) gets used. The debit card could be used for personal fun stuff, and the credit card is needed for emergencies or gas or necessary purchases like toiletries – based on your decisions as a family. I just had a “how much money makes sense for fun stuff per week” discussion with my son. It will be interesting to watch that play out in the first year!

Having a credit card also starts to build a line of credit for your student. A tip though…make sure the mailing address is your home address because the student will start to receive credit card solicitation offers. You know, all that junk mail. No need for that to hit your student’s mailbox when you can just shred it at home.

Students almost never have checks for their debit card. We’re all moving to online everything, and students might never need one. However, students should understand what they need to do if they need a paper check for something.

Health Concerns

Make sure your student has their health insurance card (to be kept with their driver’s license and you keep a copy). They will probably need it at some point.

If they take prescription medicine, be sure they understand how to get their prescription filled at a local pharmacy, how to monitor their refills, and how to take it when needed. This is a great learning opportunity if they haven’t had to manage their prescription before. And if they don’t currently have a prescription, they probably will need something in the next year so touching on it now before they have a 101-degree temperature is a good idea.

If you use a Health Savings Account (HSA) or something similar to pay for doctor visits or prescriptions, make sure they have one of those cards too. You can request one for your dependents. An alternative would be the credit card mentioned above.

Your student should have the contact information for all their primary doctors, dentists, etc. in case a doctor at college needs to contact the doctor at home. Your student can just save this info in the contacts on their phone. (They never go anywhere without their phone!)

Something to keep in mind…most colleges ask for certain immunizations to prevent disease like measles, mumps, hepatitis, meningitis, etc. on the campus based on recommendations from the CDC, federal and state governments. Requirements, rules, and exceptions vary by the college. The best idea is to search on the college’s website for details.

Car Stuff

Will your student take a car to college? Another teachable moment is making sure they understand the paperwork with the car (registration and insurance card) as well as basic car maintenance like how to get an oil chance, fill up fluids, change a tire, or jump start the battery. Did I just add something to your summer to-do list?

Having an AAA membership for your student (or researching exactly what similar services are included with your insurance) might be a good idea as security for when their car breaks down, runs out of gas, or needs help with that spare tire or jump start.


Related to the car is understanding a bit about their insurance. Now is a good time to explain the types of coverage on their car and the deductibles involved (especially if they will be responsible for paying that deductible in the event of an accident).

Whether or not to have insurance on their personal stuff depends on you. Check with your insurance agent to see how much coverage you have and what deductible applies. Having insurance on their computer might not be practical if the deductible is more than the price to buy a new laptop. Your insurance agent can give you the best advice on their personal property coverage.

What else did we want to mention about your college packing list?

Birthdays, underwear, and socks! Birthdays…give your student a list of family birthdays and have them update their planner. We know college students do NOT do birthday cards, but Grandma will LOVE a phone call (and maybe even a text message or Facebook post) on their birthday.

Underwear and socks…doesn’t really need an explanation, and they are probably already on your list. What would we add? Bring more! Can’t really have too many when your student is the one doing (or NOT doing) the laundry. ?

Congratulations on sending your student on the next step in their journey. Don’t worry. You’ll be okay, and they will grow and become better adults than you ever expected.

We hope At The Core has played some small part in helping your family along this journey. Keep us posted on how it’s going!

(Don’t forget our more traditional college packing list can be found here.)

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