College Essentials Made Easy - CBS News

Boomerang Kids: children who move back home after graduating college.



NEW YORK (CBS) Is your child headed to college this fall? Make the transition easier by bringing all the little things that make a home cozy and warm. There are plenty of things to forget, so check and double check our list of college-must haves before sending them off to school.

Laptop:Laptops are a necessity (along with Microsoft Office Student Edition) because most schools will require Word, Excel, and Power Point. (And don't forget a printer). Most computers come with a printer special if you buy the laptop, but many times you can get a refurbished printer for half the price at office stores like Staples, Office Max, or Microcenter.

Some popular laptops:

-Apple: Mac Notebooks are a great choice because they are very portable, have long battery life, and have a great service plan called Applecare that entitles you to years of service at Apple stores across the U.S. (It's worth it!)

-Dell: Dell Notebooks are affordable, and often have deals with universities that will cover damage for the four years that your child is in school.

-Sony: Sony Notebooks are a great choice because they are well made, last long, and have many different warranty packages -- just in case.

Alarm Clock: Don't be late for class! There are many different types of alarm clocks at many price points, but getting up on-time is essential.

Apple iHome: This alarm also charges your iPod and tunes in to the radio. Find it at Best Buy. Not-so-fancy alarm clocks can be found anywhere from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, to Target, and Walmart.

Backpack/Bookbag: Find a back pack that will be able to fit a computer in side as well as books, and the back pack should be comfortable and withstand the weight.

Some popular backpack brands:

JanSport backpacks meet the basic criteria, they come in a variety of colors to suit your personal style, and have a lifetime warranty: JanSport Northface backpacks are great because they are build for comfort and durability. Not only that, but your backpack and double as a bag for school and weekend activities (camping, biking, etc.)

Water bottle/water filter:Save the environment, and some green (in your wallet that is). No need to buy bottled water, buy a BPA-free water bottle and a water filter and drink like a fish. (Sporting goods stores like Dick's or general stores like Target have a wide variety of water bottles.)

Target/Walmart/Bed Bath and Beyond all have Brita and PUR water filters (pitcher style vs. faucet). Popular BPA Free Water Bottles: Nalgene bottles are durable, dishwasher safe, and come in a variety of designs. Camelbak bottles are fun to drink out of, portable, light, fit in most cup holders and are spill-proof.Or shop online for a wide variety of bottles at various price points at REI.

Digital Camera: Everyone wants to see memories, especially when your kids come home for the holidays.

Some popular brands of digital cameras (These are probably least expensive when purchased online, but all are available at electronic stores, such as Radio Shack and Best Buy):

Canon Powershot,Casio Exilim,Olympus Stylus Tough,Samsung SMX.

Cleaning supplies: NikonSwiffer Duster - This handy little duster cleans up without the mess of traditional dusters. Get coupons here! Formula 409 - This stuff can cut through anything -- including that pizza residue that's stuck to the ceiling of your child's dorm room. Febreeze - Sometimes living with other folks just -- stinks. But your kid's room doesn't have to. Spray this on your bedding, curtains and other fabrics. Lysol wipes - Kick the germs with these handy wipes. Use in the bathroom and kitchen for cleaning up fast.

Comforter and blankets: Keep in mind most college dorm beds are twin extra-long (but every school is different, so check with the housing department on campus).

XL twin bedding can be found at Bed, Bath, and Beyond or online at sites like which offers an array of different patterns at discount prices. has free shipping on orders over $75.00, they also offer fun individualized patterns like zebra print and "Rock Anthem," a comforter covered with guitar silhouettes. has all the essentials when it comes to sheets and comforters at discount prices. You just have to be specific about the search to make sure it is a twin extra-long because they have so many offers free shipping as well on over thirty different styles of sheets. They separate their site by boys bedding and girls bedding, making it a lot easier to find the pattern that you may be looking for.

Desk lamp: Are usually necessary because most rooms only supply an overhead light, and if the roommate wants to sleep, and your child still has homework to do, then a desk light is probably his only option. These can be purchased anywhere from Staples to Target.

Ear phones: Whether they're doing language lab homework, or walking to class with their iPod, a good pair of ear phones comes in handy. Popular brands are:Skullcandy Earphones are durable, have great sound quality, and block out external noise. Bose has many variations of top-quality headphones based on the needs of your child. Their four main categories of headphones are aviation, noise cancelling, mobile, and audio. Ultimate Ear EarphonesSennheiser earphones delivers great sound through their products. They also offer a professional line for those musicians out there.

Egg crate foam mattress pads: In case the beds at the dorms aren't very comfortable (because most are covered with plastic, and almost none offer a bedspring). These can be found at any store that has an "off to college" section such as JCPenney or Walmart.

Extension cords/surge protectors: Don't let a power outage ruin your television or computer. A surge protector is perfect because it protects your electronics from unusual electrical currents and offers multiple plugs so you don't have to go searching the room for an outlet to dry your hair. These are very common and can be found almost anywhere that offers office supplies, such as Best Buy and Office Max.

Flip flops/sandals: Don't go to college without a pair of comfortable shoes, and chances are, the beginning of fall semester will be hot. Be prepared with flip flops that can last through the wear and tear of campus walking. Popular brands:Rainbow Sandals are popular because they have a replacement warranty through the company. These all leather flip flops offer comfortable soles perfect for walking across campus. Havianas are considered the most popular rubber flip flop. Light weight and water proof, they are great for those hot summer daysReefs are surf-inspired sandals for those who want quality without paying too much.Crocs now come in an array of stylish shoes for lightweight comfort in case you have miles of walking ahead of you.

Hand vacuum: Needed when living in a college dorm where crumbs may be neglected. In a small space a small vacuum is called for. Check out consumer reviews on handy vacuums on How Stuff

Hangers: Though many dorms are furnished, they will not be providing hangers in the closets. Don't send your child away to school without giving them something to hang their wardrobe on. These comes in large packs, but ones with a velvet finish do a great job of keeping clothes on the hanger without worrying about them slipping off. You can find these at stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Hanging mirrors: An often forgotten necessity, these are cheap and easy to find from stores like Target to Walmart. Iron and Ironing board: While an iron does not take up much room, ironing boards would take up too much space in an already cramped environment. Send your child away to school with an old iron from home, but spring for a cheap fold away mini board like this one offered at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Laundry basket/bag: Save space with a mesh laundry basket. Most home furnishing stores sell an array of different designs. Not only are these lightweight, they stretch if needed, and also fold away when they are empty. Most stores offer an array of different designs depending on what your child's preferences are, Target offers many decorative ones that look good, and have great functionality.

Microwave: Is definitely a necessity for the amount of ramen that will be cooked. has many "off to college" microwaves.

Mini fridge: Where will you put your microwave? On top of the mini fridge where you will be storing leftovers, water, soda, ice-cream, so you'll definitely want one. A variety of mini fridges from super tiny to fairly large can be found here on

Curtains: Blinds can begin to get depressing after a while, and some dormitories suggest you bring your own curtains to make your room a little more "homey." Curtain rods and curtains are easily found at any home furnishing or home appliance store like IKEA or Lowe's.

Plates/eating utensils: Plastic plates, bowls, and utensils are a must. These are cheap, and easily found at Target or Cost Co for those with a membership card.

Rain gear: Umbrellas, rain boots, rain coats. Hunter Rain Boots are very popular because they are fitting, comfortable, light, and designed to cater to men and women differently. Cheaper brands can be found at any department store like Macy's or JC Penney, even Target has their own brand of rain gear for your feet.

Shower caddy/Shower shoes: Don't forget that showers are communal now, so make sure you send your child off to school with a shower caddy to carry all their things to and from their room, as well as a pair of waterproof flip-flops they can wear in the bathroom. No bare feet should touch those tile floors. You can find all kinds of different shower caddis at Dorm, they even have sections to order shower shoes, or if you live in an apartment style dorm, shower caddis to keep in the bathroom so you and your roommates can stay organized.

Long cable cord: Chances are your child will want to bring a television to school. Most dorms are equipped with local cable channels; all you have to do is provide the cable cord. We suggest getting a longer one so that you can run it whichever way you want in the room, that way it won't restrict your decorating preferences. You can find these in any office supplies store such as Best Buy.

Ethernet cord: While most dorms and campuses offer free secure Wi-Fi, often times the system is finicky. Ethernet cords are a great way of insuring that your fast speed internet will be there in the clutch if you're researching on a deadline and the Wi-Fi goes out.These can be found at any basic office supplies store such as Best Buy and Walmart.

Space savers: College dorms aren't exactly the largest spaces to be sharing with someone else. Bring all the necessities and pack them away neatly when you get there with these great space savers. Closet space is something to cherish. Make the most of out of your dorm closet by using some closet organizers like hanging shoe racks, or cube units to separate different parts of your wardrobe into sections (try out this closet storage).Shoes take up a lot of space, so use some under the bed shoe racks, or shoe organizers in your closet to maximize your space (check out these shoe racks).Small knick knacks from everyday life can take up a lot of space, so put them in a decorative basket so all your little things like keys, camera, mittens, can have a safe haven in your room. It helps when you don't have to go searching for them too! (Try these storage baskets and bins.) Your door is a great place to put things, believe it or not. Use some over the door organizers to hang up coats or to dry out towels (Try this over-the-door organizer).

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