17 Last Minute Items NOT TO FORGET on the College Packing List

Your college student may be nearly done packing for school and there is a pile of their belongings growing higher every day in the corner of their bedroom, in the hallway, or both.

Before you load up the car, take a look at these last-minute items to consider packing for your teen.

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10 last minute things for the college packing list

17 last-minute things for your college packing list

1. Watertight Packable Rain Jacket

For years my teens ran from the school bus or car into their middle school and high school and never once wore a rain jacket. At some point, your son or daughter will need to walk across campus in a deluge.

For women, this rain jacket from L.L. Bean gets high marks, with five sizes, five colors, and three fits — petite, plus, and regular.

LL bean rain jacket

And for men, this is a very affordable and durable rain jacket from Columbia and it is available in an array of colors.

rain jacket

2. Digital Thermometer

Since our teens were babies, we have functioned as their human thermometer laying our hand on a hot forehead; it’s crucial for your teen to have — and know how to use — a thermometer.

Digital thermometer

3. Backpack (and other accessories)

A backpack is a must-have for your student heading to campus this year. Check out the Herschel site to see all the choices they offer in sizes and shapes for backpacks and accessories (think laptop sleeves and masks). Our favorites for this season: customized Little America (what’s not to love about making it your own?)


The Grown and Flown book is now in paperback with expert advice on raising teens and learning how to say goodbye at the freshman dorm.

Grown and Flown paperback

4. 10 Foot Phone Charging Cable

Students want their phones by their beds and this durable, extra long and extra fast charging cord makes that a reality, especially when plugged into a surge protector.

Anker cord

5. Mattress  Encasement

An AllerEase mattress encasement will help your teen stay healthier in what may soon become a filthy and dusty dorm room. It is waterproof, keeping the mattress topper clean and dry in case of spills. It will also protect your teen from allergens, dust mites, and bed bugs, too.

mattress encasement

6. College Gear

Your teen will want to be ready for the very first game day with a new college t-shirt, hat, sweatshirt, jersey, or just have a soft pair of PJ bottoms or cute collegiate sneakers. Fanatics is the best site to shop for over 500 colleges as the selection is amazing and you can find all the sizes and styles you need for guys, girls, as well as a selection for proud parents, too.

Duke hoodie

7. Touch of Decor 

Dorm rooms are drab so bringing something, anything, that adds a cheerful touch to a wall is a plus. Check out Society6 for unique art prints, posters, and tapestries. If you have not already gotten an oversize pillow for your student to prop up against, they have a selection of those, too. Representing more than 300,000 artists from 160 countries, even purchase pays an artist.

Society6 collection

8. Games

One of my teens showed up with chess and suddenly there was a crowd. Board games (like Catan shown below) card games, frisbee, and, yes, video games are all great ice breakers at the beginning of the school year.

Catan board game

9. Water Bottle

Hydro Flask water bottles are ideal for college students because they keep the cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours — perfect for when your student spends the day on campus. And, check out the new and limited edition #RefillforGood Hydro Flask water bottles! Hydro Flask is donating $100,000 of proceeds to the Surfrider Foundation whose goal is to keep the oceans clean.

hydro Flask

10. Duck Tape

Having a roll of duct tape at hand for temporary repairs is always a great idea, so throw one into your teen’s toolbox so they are prepared.

duck tape

11. Damp Rid

This ingenious bag traps moisture and creates a fresher scent in a closet. We hear rave reviews about this product!

damp rid

12. Magnetic Paper Towel Roll Dispenser 

Having easy access to a roll of paper towels is made easier when they are held in place by a towel bar attached to a mini-fridge. This one uses strong magnets that will not move around in use.

paper towel holder

13. Air Purifier

Dorm room air can be stale and the floors and other surfaces get dusty. In a word, they are GROSS and teens do not typically clean them. You might consider an air purifier and this one, by Conway, has gotten the top reviews since 2015 out of 35 different models tested. (NYTimes Wirecutter). According to the manufacturer, the Conway has a

4 Stage Filtration System (Pre-filter, Deodorization filter, True HEPA filter, Vital Ion) captures and reduces up to 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in the air, including pollen, pollutants and other allergens. It also reduces volatile organic compounds and reduces odor. (Amazon)

Conway air purifier

A less expensive model, that also gets great reviews for small spaces, is the Levoit Air purifier. 

Levoit air purifier

14. Lock Box

For students who have prescription meds, jewelry, and/or other valuables, consider a lockbox for storage.

sentry safe

15. Shout Color Catcher Dye Trapping Sheets

Yes, we have coached our teens on why they have to wash whites and darks separately but sometimes, that just won’t work. With these ingenious sheets, they will never have to worry about that red t-shirt making all their white t-shirts pink.


16. Extra Set of Sheets

17. And one final idea, is this cute reminder, a Call Your Mom pillowcase

call your mom pillowcase

You Might Also Want to Read:

Popular Face Masks for Teens and Adults We asked our Grown and Flown parents which ones they liked the most — here are their favorites.

17 Items to Cross Off Your List Before Your Teen Leaves for College These are the things that will be much easier to do BEFORE you drop off your teen.

If you're looking for a college checklist or a packing list for college that has everything you need, this one is the BEST because it has all those essential college must haves you don't want to forget when your teen goes off to college. #collegelife #teens #college #dormroom #collegechecklist #collegepackinglist #packinglist #collegeideas

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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