What to Put in a College Freshman Survival Kit: Ideas for New College Students

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Off to College!

A college freshman survival kit can bring peace of mind to a student who is living on his or her own for the first time. The kit, which can be contained in a small briefcase, box, or duffel bag, keeps essential goods and supplies in one convenient place. It not only serves a practical purpose, it provides comfort and a piece of home as well. It can also help a student conserve their cash; instead of going to the store to buy necessities, they will already have much of what they need in their kit.

Health and Hygiene Supplies

Including medical supplies in a college survival kit allows a student to treat minor injuries without having to visit the campus health facility or local drugstore. Of course, for serious problems and sickness the student should make use of the campus facilities, but not all campuses have medical services included in college costs. Also, if in an emergency situation, the student can attend to him/herself while waiting for help. The following suggested items are convenient for storing in a kit:

  • Over-the-counter remedies for headaches and body aches, such as Tylenol, Aleve, or Advil. These are useful for relieving minor cramps and pains.
  • Hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin, and first-aid cream, to use when cleaning small cuts and scrapes.
  • Burn ointment for minor burns (as from a toaster oven, curling iron, etc.)
  • Band-Aids in a variety of sizes and shapes
  • Gauze and medical tape
  • Compresses or gel ice packs
  • Extra feminine products
  • Portable tissue packs or tissue boxes
  • Cough drops
  • Extra deodorant, soap, shaving razors, toothpaste, backup toothbrush, and other bathroom/shower supplies as needed.

Safety and Emergency Supplies

For additional security in an apartment or freshman dorm room, pack some emergency and safety supplies in a survival kit. This may be a part of or separate from the main survival kit, but often it is helpful to have each type of supplies labeled in a separate, smaller box. College students can minimize the inconvenience of minor emergencies with items such as:

  • One or more hand-held flashlights, to use in the event of a power outage.
  • Extra batteries for flashlight, calculator, alarm clock, etc. Check to see what type of batteries each appliance needs.
  • Extra bottles of water
  • A universal battery-powered cell phone charger (again, in case of a power outage) along with your student’s regular cell phone charger
  • A small toolbox
  • Duck tape for quick repairs
  • A hard copy of contact phone numbers. In case the student’s phone is lost or out of power, s/he can call people from a friend’s phone or a public phone.

Snacks and School Supplies

Reduce the likelihood of college weight gain by adding low-calorie, nutrient-rich food items to a survival kit. These types of dry goods and non-perishables are great to have on hand when the need for a “study break” snack arises:

  • Dried fruits, such as apricots, bananas, and apples. These snacks keep well in a sealed container and satisfy the urge for a sweet treat without adding extra pounds.
  • Pretzel sticks, multi-grain crackers, and Nabisco 100-Calorie Snack Packs. College freshmen can have quick access to crunchy foods that won’t spoil the appetite.
  • Peppermint patties are a good low-calorie, low-fat alternative to candy bars that easily satisfy a chocolate craving.
  • Ramen noodles — easy to store and easy to fix, these snack-meals are handy if not necessarily healthy. Good in an emergency, they can be eaten dry or cooked and have become popular among college students.
  • Drink mix, for instance Krystal Lite, often has less sugar than soda but will still satisfy a student’s thirst for a sweet drink.
  • Coupons for pizza places and grocery stores will help your student take the edge off the cost when s/he has to go shopping, as well as remind them of how to manage their money.
  • Gift cards to grocery stores or Wal-Mart are also a good idea.

Survival kits are also ideal for storing extra school supplies that won’t fit on a desk top or in a drawer. Some extra items include:

  • Post-It Notes in a variety of colors and sizes
  • Highlighters, pens and pencils
  • Unopened ink cartridges for printers
  • Liquid Paper correction fluid or White Out
  • Paper clips, boxes of staples, and cellophane tape roll refills
  • Blank notecards/flashcards

With items and ideas selected from this article, students should be well prepared to building a survival kit that will help them overcome the practical difficulties that often arise when living away from home for the first time. Students who take a college freshman survival kit to a residential campus environment can easily help themselves and their friends when issues arise. Having access to a survival kit can make the transition from high school to higher learning easier, giving your student the tools and the confidence s/he needs to solve problems along the way.