Menu Close

Judah’s College Survival Kit

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. contains affiliate links #BeReadyPlayBook #CollectiveBias

In 1995, I spent a semester at the University of Hawaii, Hilo. I left Alaska, the state I was born and raised in for Hawaii. I traded frozen nose hairs and permafrost for sun and surf. The University of Hawaii had an excellent Linguistics program at the time and a tuition exchange with Alaska. I was able to attend the University of Hawaii at the resident rate; which happened to be cheaper than the university I was attending in Alaska. It was win-win…especially when you realize I dragged my brand new husband along with me! A six month honeymoon in Hawaii? Yes, please!

Making the jump from homeschooling to university

Somehow, impossibly, we are about to send a child, off to university. Not in another state, but across the state. Back in April, Judah, Chuck and I attended a scholarship dinner at CWU. Judah loved the campus and university. He applied and was accepted into their Honors College: “Central’s premier interdisciplinary program for academically talented students“. Yeah, I’m kind of proud.

Judah leaves for Central exactly four weeks from today. He will be working (he’s doing summer maintenance at the community college) up until the day he leaves. He just finished his summer quarter and completed all of his requirements for high school and a two-year Associate of Arts degree. 



We have now sent four teens on five different Teen Missions trips. We almost have packing for that down to a science. Sending a son off to college? That’s a little different. Judah will be working his way through college and money will be tight, so I want to send him with as many necessities as possible. I had a ball at Walmart selecting as many needed items as I could think of. 

I picked out this laundry basket and filled it with:

  • towels, wash cloths and sheets (twin XL for college) and laundry soap
  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, flossers, mouthwash, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, bar soap, shampoo, etc.
  • Medicine: Ibuprofen and Tylenol, cold medicine
  • SNACKS! A few protein snacks (natural peanut butter, nuts, beef jerky), fun snacks (candy, Nutella!, Slim Jims) and beverages (herbal tea and Dr. Pepper)
  •  Other: Judah has been a Boy Scout for years, so I did not include: flashlight, first aid kit, etc. Things he already owns and will take. You may wan to add those items to your list.

I have to admit I had a blast shopping for all of this. I love themed parties, themed dinners, themed gift baskets. That just might be my love language, in fact. 

Have you sent any kids off to college? What would you put in a college survival kit?


  1. amulbunny

    IS there any problem with fires in the area Judah is going to? I’ve been seeing all the coverage and we can commiserate with
    WA State as we’ve got our own fires in CA. Wishing Judah good luck and lots of fun in his new adventure in college.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I don’t think so…but right now it is hard to keep up on where all the fires are! Thanks for the well-wishes.

  2. Heather

    My parents sent me with a bottle of echinacea pills my freshman year. I took them religiously and was proud to say I didn’t get sick once that first year of communal living in the dorms.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      That’s a great idea. Thank you for sharing! I *was* looking at Cold-EZ and thought about adding cold medicine.

  3. mallowlark

    Household stationery items that he may not have of his own: scissors, ruler, stapler, paper clips, drawing pins, rubber bands, envelopes, stamps, tape, parcel tape, hole punch, etc. If you suddenly have to go buy all of those new, it adds up on a tight budget. The usual pens, notebooks, folders, etc. would probably be appreciated as well — here at least students still seem to do a fair bit of note taking, reading, etc. on hard copies, not electronically.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Stationary/office supplies are a great idea, thanks! Yes, all the little stuff adds up which is why I am trying to buy him everything I can think of.

  4. SueAnn

    I agree with mellowmark. Also, a couple cheap plates, mugs or cups and silverware, plus dish detergent – or a pack of paper plates, plastic ware and cups. He needs to be able to eat some of the things you are sending with him. Papertowels and can opener too. Also, some sort of caddy for storing and carrying his bathroom supplies.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Can opener! Yikes, I didn’t think of that. Plates and paper towels are a good idea. He has a nice LL Bean toiletry bag for those supplies.

  5. Nicole

    The one thing I forgot when I first came to school was a trash can, unless one will be provided you may want to get that. Also a shower caddy comes in handy, and extra phone chargers are always useful!

  6. Laura

    A roll of quarters or two. They can be inconvenient to get while you’re on a college campus and they *always* come in handy.

  7. Melpub

    Did you mention toilet paper? Send him with that. It’s always getting stolen in dorms, just when you need it. Ear plugs might be a good investment too: really good ones. How I remember my Awful Roommates Who Stayed Up All Night Partying When I Wanted To Sleep. When I complained–“I’m a senior! I have exams”–they said: “You’re immature!!”

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      I wonder if he needs toilet paper…that never crossed my mind. Ear plugs seem like a great idea too!

  8. Deb

    I sent a first aid kit, bandaids, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, cold medicine, cough medicine, a digital thermometer, athletes foot spray (showers are teeming with it), flip flops. Even if the school has a health clinic, there will be times when you’ll get a call from a sick kid at 2 in the morning, who wants to know what to do, then you remind them you packed a few things, and he doesn’t have to head out to a store when he just wants to take something to make him feel better. I also got a cheap Bissell stick vac, for the room. The dorms usually have big vacuums for the entire building to use, but they were always clogged up. Mailing supplies, a few envelopes and stamps. For laundry, Purex makes detergent sheets, throw one in with the wash, transfer to the dryer, they have a softener strip for the dryer. A few clothes pins, safety pins, maybe a small pocket sewing kit for buttons or rips. We also sent a rechargable flashlight, plug it in and forget it till you need it.

    Send him care packages once in a while, cookies, snacks, send enough to share and he will be popular, especially if the snacks are homemade.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      He has a first aid kid (from boy Scouts). Ooh, a small vac is a great idea! Thanks for the suggestions. I am actually looking forward to sending him care packages…is that silly?

  9. Kristal

    I’m not ready for this… but our first graduate will stay here as he is going to be a fireman… although coming home from TMI he was wondering if that was where God was leading him. So we shall see.

  10. Carolyn

    Between 1996-2008 my mom had kids in college. Every Tuesday she would send us a letter in the mail. Sometimes it was more of a care package and often our dad would put $5…it really is appreciated!

  11. aftonmom

    Having just sent two boys off to two different colleges, I will say that amazon prime, and amazon pantry are a great way to send things to the kid who went to school 4 hours away. The other one is only going 30 min away so we can get things to him as he needs them. Being Boys things that have come in handy for one a printer, ink, and paper as he has to pay for printing. The other one has free printing so just needed to send with printer paper. Reading lamp that can attach to the bed frame, power strip, extension cord ( small one), camp chair ( can use in room to relax and then outside if needed), 2 sets of sheets ( on the advice of my older son who said mom they will never wash the sheets if they only have one set), headphones to use with laptop, extra soap, tooth paste. For the one son a bike to ride ( he doesn’t have a car, and he is going to school in a small town with out much busing) the other one an extra pair of sneakers as his campus is bigger and has a great bus system. Umbrella, med kit full of stuff for when they call you and say mom I haven’t gone number two in a week, or I have this rash on my foot that itches really bad, and so on. Keep an eye out for when midterms are and make sure to send some extra goodies that week. A lap blanket, extra pillows, and a gentle reminder to Skype the family on Sunday and if mom text reply please.

    Ok really having issues here this year with one dd getting married and staying in NY, oldest son staying in NY, next two boys going to college, leaving me with only husband, one 15 dd, and one 9 yo son in KS. My house is to quite, and how does one cook for 4 people.

    • aftonmom

      Wanted to add check to see if the washers at the school take quarters a lot of them now run on the student’s school card and you just need to add money to that. Also my son made me laugh when we were dropping him off and everyone kept saying you will have to get used to a smaller room and sharing a room, he said to me ” Mom the room is bigger and I have one less roommate.

      • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

        Yes, Chuck said they pay for laundry with their student card…I’m sure quarters would be welcome though 🙂 Enoch said yesterday, “you know you come from a large family when you go off to college and only have to share a room with one person!”

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      These are great! Thank you so much for the ideas. Good idea about the sheets…I’ll have to ask Judah. It’s hard to imagine most 18 year old boys washing their sheets. For his birthday this year, we are getting a bike all fixed up in prime shape as that will be his only vehicle. I’m working on a “medicine cabinet” for him…I am looking forward to sending care packages from Amazon! Judah has been reading these comments to get ideas of what to pack as well.

  12. Liz

    I would suggest washing all sheets and towels first at home too. Its always good to wash fabrics before use and you never know how long they will go before the next washing!

    I would also suggest some wire cubes (if you google “wire cubes” pictures will come right up) I got some before college and have moved probably 20 times over the last 10 years. They always come in handy for whatever type of storage/organization my living space is lacking. You can put them together in all sorts of configurations.

    Oh, and dish soap!

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.