How Many Pairs of Shoes Does One Kid Need to Go to College?

How many pairs of shoes does one kid need to go to college?

Shower shoes a must. One.
Sneakers also a must. Two.
Boots a must (for snowy schools). Three.
Slides definitely a must. Four.
Fancy shoes a must. Five.

How Many Pairs of Shoes Should You Bring to College?

That’s five pairs of shoes. I can handle that. Except my son is adding “fraternity sneakers” to the mix. You know those once white sneakers, now a rainbow shade of grey, to wear to fraternity parties so his regular sneakers don’t get ruined. I can appreciate that logic.

many different colors of shoes
How many pairs of shoes does one need for college? (Photo by Ingo Joseph from Pexels)

Six pairs of shoes.

And he must bring that cool pair he got at the thrift store for only $7. I still don’t know how my son scored such a deal and am so proud of his thrifting that I happily agree to those. Lucky seven.

My son then reminds me of the brutal upstate winters and how his nice boots will likely get destroyed unless he has a less expensive pair for everyday trudging through the snow. Sounds reasonable.
It’s settled: eight pairs of shoes.

Then we remember that his fancy shoes aren’t truly “dress shoes” and my son needs something dressier for interviews. We whole-heartedly agree since “dress shoes” were on the official packing list. Put those bad boys in the shoe pile. That’s nine.

Okay that’s it. No more shoes.

But wait- what if my precious boy is cold in the dorm? He must bring those fuzzy Mickey Mouse giant yellow slippers we got on a whim a few years ago at Disney. He wore them once on Halloween but now they will find their forever home at college! I tossed them on the shoe pile. That makes an even ten.

Ten is the final number.

The next day when I pass by the shoe-holding pen, those bright yellow beauties are gone. My son informs me there is “no way” he is bringing Mickey Mouse slippers to college, that I need to stop micromanaging him and that he can’t wait to leave my evil slipper-forcing clutches!

So, we are back to nine.

Seeing My Daughter’s Shoes at Home Reminds Me of Her

Amid all this college shoe madness, I get a text from my older child inquiring about her black semi-flat sandals, the one with the jeweled flowers on the toe. No matter that she’s moved across the country to work and attend grad school, apparently she now needs these shoes. She texts ever-so-politely if there is any way I can ship them to her this week. Of course I can.

And you had better believe that there will be some granola bars she used to eat every day for breakfast in college, along with a handwritten love note in the package. Never mind that I really don’t know if she still eats granola bars every day for breakfast, considering she now lives in a house with a fully equipped kitchen.

I glance at the “Shrine to Rose’s shoes” in my back hall, where a dozen or so pairs that didn’t make the cut, reside. Too bad we aren’t the same size shoe. Sometimes I think about removing my daughter’s old footwear from the shoe rack to free up space for people’s shoes who actually live in the house, but I never do. Truth be told I kind of like seeing my daughter’s old shoes every time I leave the house.

She lives 3000 miles away, but her footprint is always in my heart, and those shoes are a metaphor for that. Many shoes left behind are too tattered to donate, but their history is what gives them their charm. And the prom shoes worn to both Junior and Senior prom sparkle in the corner as a size 5 reminder of days gone by.

So, the shoes my son is lugging to college will have their own adventures, as I fondly reminisce about all the travels and life’s path of the shoes left behind.

You Will Also Want to Read:

Life is a Roller Coaster and So is the College Application Process 

Dorm Shopping: 20 Favorite Extras 


Shari Bender has authored numerous parenting articles, drawing on her experiences with her now grown children. She earned her BA in Communications from Stanford University in 1992 and currently works as Communications and Marketing Director for a large electrical firm on Long Island. Shari is a cat-loving spiritual vegan who is excited to embrace her empty-nesting along with her husband of 27 years.

About Shari Bender

Shari earned her BA in Communication from Stanford University and freelances all things Communication and Marketing. She is a cat-loving spiritual vegan and former admissions interviewer. With two grown children. Shari is happily and sentimentally embracing her Empty Nest
along with her husband of nearly 30 years. Her musings delight parents in numerous publications and online platforms, including Grown & Flown and

Read more posts by Shari

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