College Packing List: 20 Last-Minute Items NOT TO FORGET

Your college student may be nearly done packing for school, and a pile of their belongings grows higher every day in the corner of their bedroom, in the hallway, or both. Before you load up the car, consider these last-minute items to consider packing for your teen.

bags and dorm supplies at home
My son was getting organized for packing for college. (Heffernan)


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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 must 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 is available in various 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 a thermometer — and know how to use it. digital thermometer

3. She’s Birdie Personal Alarm

This small personal alarm might be just the thing to help your daughter prepare for a situation where she feels frightened. Pull the pin to activate a loud alarm and flashing strobe light to create a diversion. The pin can be replaced and reused.

  • And now, there’s Birdie+, the second-generation alarm with enhanced options, including:
  • connection to a live representative 24/7 (the US only)
  • the ability to trigger an excuse-to-leave call to remove herself from a sticky situation
  • location sharing with her emergency contacts
  • loud siren
  • monthly or annual subscription

birdie alarm

4. Notes to Self Socks

There is something about socks that we will never understand — why is it so incredibly easy to misplace one of a pair? If you have not already purchased a week’s worth of new socks for your teen, think about purchasing some from Notes to Self, with words of affirmation on the sole and toe of each one. We love these socks! note to self socks

5. 10-Foot Phone Charging Cable

Students want their phones by their beds, and this durable, extra long, and extra fast charging cord by Anker can help make that happen. 

Anker 10 ft cable 2022


6. 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. mattress encasement

7. 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 #1 site to shop for over 500 colleges (plus loads of other teams.) The selection is amazing, and you can find all the sizes and styles you need for guys and girls, as well as a selection for proud parents. Duke hoodie

8. Wall Art

Dorm rooms are drab, so bringing something that adds a cheerful touch to a wall is a plus. Check out Society6 for unique art prints, posters, and tapestries. 

Representing more than 450,000 artists from 170 countries, every purchase pays an artist.

Society6 posters

9. YETI Tumbler

Is your teen a coffee drinker? Do they love keeping a steaming hot cup with them when they’re on the go? YETI is a legendary brand and has legendary products. The tumblers are insulated and can keep hot drinks hot or cold drinks cold for hours. They’re available in 10 amazing colors, in 10, 20, or 30-ounce sizes, and can be customized with initials and logos.

Your teen would love this!

YETI tumbler 

10. 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

11. 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.

hydro Flask

12. 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

13. Damp Rid

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

14. 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

15. 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 Coway, has gotten the top reviews since 2015 out of 35 different models tested. (NYTimes Wirecutter). According to the manufacturer, the Coway 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

16. Mini Air Purifier

A smaller, less expensive model that also gets great reviews is the Levoit mini air purifier. leviot mini air purifier  

17. Master Lock Mini Safe

Consider a small personal safe for secure storage for students with prescription meds, jewelry, and/or other valuables.

18. Shout Color Catcher Dye Trapping Sheets

Yes, we have coached our teens on why they must 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.


19. IKEA Frakta Bags

There is still time to get your IKEA Frakta bags from Amazon and trust us, you will be thanking us as you see how much stuff fits into each bag and how lightweight and durable they are.

Ikea Blue bags

20. One final idea is this cute reminder, a Call Mom pillowcase

call your mom pillowcase

You Might Also Want to Read: 17 Items to Cross Off Your List Before Your Teen Leaves for College These things will be much easier to do BEFORE you drop off your teen.

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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