Student Living Essentials

By Erica Ehm

The high school graduation banner has been taken down and all confetti has been swept up! Can you believe your baby (and mine!) is now a teenager – a college or university-bound teenager? Living away from you (whether across the city or a plane ride away) is a huge step for you and your teenager. Here’s how to get them ready for student living now, so you can enjoy the rest of the summer, relaxed.

Ask, Ask, and Ask Some More
Check the school’s website for a supply list, as they are often posted for new students. Then, get your child to poke around online for any student-only forums for little tips and tricks about student living. Ask friends and parents who’ve had children off to school already for a year or two for “old hand” ideas. Keep an eye out for rules and regulations; for instance, before you purchase a kettle or coffee maker, make sure the school’s dorm allows them, as some do not, due to the heat they can create. Ask specific questions, like, “What were three items you wish you had the first week?” or “What two things would have made your transition to student living easier?”

Student Living Basics 101
Don’t overlook the simple, every day stuff. A properly outfitted student living space will never be complete without pens, lined and clean printer paper (more than you’d think!), a replacement ink cartridge (because you will always run out the day before the essay is due!), highlighters, sticky notes, spiral notebooks, paper clips and staplers…. Think of it this way: your child’s new fulltime job is learning, so much so that they need to LIVE at their job! Arm them for success with the proper toolbox.

Organize for Optimal Success
Does the school supply furniture and equipment? We’ve seen the range from all furniture including lamps and printers onsite, to bare bones concrete rooms with only a bedframe. You do not want to discover on move-in day that oops! You were supposed to bring your own desk, garbage can, and mattress! If the school hasn’t made it clear, call. Then, get measurements while you’re at it and get shopping! One thing you will almost surely need is extra storage. Get some colourful bins or a small rolling organizer cart or dresser if space allows. Much as goldfish, teenagers have an interesting way of “growing to their environment” so expect their storage needs to increase during the school year. Another thing to consider: day planners and wall calendars they can use to get a grip on their new exciting/intimidating schedules! Hint: Many off-campus rentals or dorm rooms come with little, shared or no closet space, or are outfitted with only two or three hooks, so make sure clothes hangers make your list, too!

Creature Comforts
College and university can be an amazing, liberating, exciting time, but it is also a time of huge change and your child will likely want some creature comforts of home to help them feel grounded. Once you have school needs firmly in hand in terms of furniture and supplies like laptops and printers, it’s time to turn to comfort. Can your child have a mini-fridge for snacks and drinks? Don’t forget their favourite posters and pictures in frames from home! String some mini lights and add some wall-decals and a colourful throw for their bed and you are talking hotel level comfort. You could even surprise them with a treat they aren’t expecting to help capture all the great moments to come – like a retro-vibed Instamax Instant Camera.

You’ve always helped your child on their path to success, and just because they are “leaving home,” this effort won’t stop now! The college and university years are an exciting time for everyone in the family, and going in prepped for all possibilities is just one more way we can give kids the best chance of having amazing, life-long memories of their years of student living! \

Stay updated with all things Staples this summer by checking out our back to school centre at www.staples.ca/bts

About the Author: Erica Ehm is Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Ehm & Co and YMC. In the 80’s and 90’s she became the voice of a generation hosting MuchMusic. Today she is raising a new generation, her teenage son and daughter.

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