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How to Make Your Own College Survival Kit

Campus Must-haves

When recently graduated high schoolers go off to college, it is most likely the first time they will be living away from home. This dramatic life change, while exciting, can be very stressful.

Cut stress in half when you pack appropriately. Here's the deal: You'll be cash-strapped as soon as you land on campus, so follow this checklist of pricey, but necessary campus must-have's. Pack these before you depart your parents' house for school and don't forget to restock whenever you come home to visit.


While you can always buy shampoo and soap in the student store, it's recommended to bring somecollege survival kit of your own, at least to get you started. And when you can bring it with you, you won't have to buy it, which means you get to hang onto your cash for other expenses.

Anything that you use on a daily basis should be a part of what you pack. Bring your own toilet paper! After you use the cut-rate rough stuff of dorm room bathrooms, you'll appreciate the home-packed cottony soft TP rolls you snatched from home.

You're also going to want to make sure you bring a few medical supplies like band aids, some hydrogen peroxide, cotton balls and of course, any medications you may take. Bring the staple medications, as well as over-the-counter pain-killers, allergy medicines and even cold and flu remedies.

Laundry Essentials

Living away from home for the first time brings a whole host of new responsibilities, including doing laundry in the pay machines. You'll look at quarters in a whole new light. Give yourself a head start and pack a few rolls of quarters for the laundry machines.

Also pack your favorite laundry detergent, some stain remover, and a laundry basket or bag to get your clothes from dorm to laundry room and back again. And no self-respecting college student would avoid bringing a load of dirty laundry back to mom, right? Well come on, every bit helps!

Storage Options

Practical storage solutions are a lifesaver in cramped dorm rooms. Make sure you add storage boxes and containers to your college survival kit. Choose packing containers that will slide under your dorm bed. You can use them to store extra bedding, clothes and other supplies you don't need on a daily basis. Also don't forget to go vertical! Even a hanging shoe organizer can make a world of difference when you're trying to use space wisely.

Plastic kitchen containers are a convenient way to store snacks and leftovers. If you share a refrigerator or space with anyone else make sure you mark clearly whose food is whose.

gas cards

Gas Cards

Here's a pricey but practical off-to-college gift you could ask for in advance from relatives and family: prepaid gas gift cards.

If you have a car on campus you can bet you'll be using it. Cash-strapped college students do not want to invest in a huge gasoline bill. You'll appreciate anyone who hands you one of these. Guard them with your life.

Survival Food

No college student packs a survival kit without food. If you'll use the meal plan on campus, make sure you've planned for this. Have a dorm kitchen available? If you cook why not pack a few staples? Otherwise most college students maintain a crucial supply of snack foods including peanut butter, granola bars, and cereal. And sure, cheap noodle dishes are a timeless choice but for solid nutritional value at an affordable cost there's no beating beans and rice.

And if you're a coffee or tea drinker don't forget how expensive those items can be, so whenever you can get a donation from home, take it and gladly!

Once you've been in school for a semester or two you'll have all the cost-saving tricks down but until then this list should help make your first days in college as comfortable and affordable as possible. And it's also a good idea to get a discount buying card, if possible, so maybe you and your roommate can go in together on essential common items that you both use. There's always more you can add to your survival kit. Whatever it is you think you will need, go ahead and add it. You'll not only save a lot of money; you'll also appreciate the home-packed "gifts" sooner than you could possibly imagine.