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A parent's guide to everything your college student will need this year

There’s shopping to be done!
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Preparing for the college drop-off is an exciting — and possibly overwhelming — time for any parent and child. Especially now. Uncertainty about what the pandemic and the rising delta variant cases means for campus life as students head back in fall has parents navigating all kinds of decisions, precautions and emotions.

That said, there’s shopping to be done! With both of my kids in out-of-state universities, I have to meet the needs of a freshman living in a dorm, while my senior lives in an apartment. There are plenty of great checklists for what college students need, but here are 15 must-have essentials this parent thinks are worth considering.

1. University Face Mask

If there is a 2021 way to show school spirit, this is it. These masks are made of 100% polyester and are machine-washable. Better yet, they're available in a variety of university logos at just $13.

2. ATHPHY Disposable Three-Layer Face Mask

I’m sending each of my kids with a box of disposable masks, too. It'll be good for them to have a stash in their dorm rooms to use as needed. These are $6 for a pack of 50 and have some rave reviews on Amazon.

3. Femometor Non-Contact Forehead Thermometer

Even outside of pandemic times, a forehead thermometer should be part of every college kid’s first aid kit. This one, for $18, is currently an Amazon top seller with over 3,000 verified five-star reviews.

4. Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Value Pack

Let's face it, college kids aren't always the cleanest. But this three-pack of disinfecting wipes can at least help them protect themselves and their roommates from germs.

5. Blue Light Glasses by Pixel Eyewear

Between online courses and writing papers, students will be spending even more time in front of their screens. Blue light glasses are a must for reducing eye strain and headaches. We love the well-made and stylish variety from Pixel Eyewear, which range from $75 to $95.

6. My Hydro by Hydro Flask

A water bottle is the one accessory that both of my kids carry with them wherever they go and it’s hard to beat the quality and durability of the Hydro Flask. With the My Hydro line, you can customize everything from cap size to the color and strap.

7. Chic Geeks Laptop Cover

If your kid is taking a MacBook to school, it’s wise to invest in a sturdy, protective cover. You can’t beat the array of unique colors and designs from Chic Geeks.

8. West Elm X Pbdorm Quick Dry Bath Bundle Set

This is perfect for dorm life and beyond. The color-coordinated bundle includes a matching laundry bag that can be worn as a backpack (for added portability), shower caddy and towel set that is made with GOTS-certified organic cotton.

9. Peach Skin Classic White Sheet Set

These sheets (1,500 thread count) are incredibly soft! They are hypoallergenic, come in a dorm-friendly Twin XL size (as well as standard bed sizes) and have 18-inch deep pockets, making them great for fitting over all the layers you can put on dorm beds.

10. Sneaker Lab Shoe Wipes

Keeping white sneakers pristine takes some serious upkeep — but these handy, environmentally-friendly wipes make it easy. We love that they come in individual packets that are easy to stash in the pocket of a backpack.

11. Cordinate Designer 2-Outlet Power Strip with 2 USB Ports

With all of their tech gadgets, there may never seem to be enough plugs. This power strip features two plugs plus two USB ports and is 10-feet long.

12. All-in-one Toolkit

This handheld kit features 23 tools, like a level, screwdriver, hammer and more, and retails for less than $30. Talk about compact and efficient!

13. Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker

The slim size of the K-Mini coffee maker — less than 5-inches wide — makes it perfect for apartment or dorm living.

14. Internet's Best Hanging Closet Organizer with Drawers

Space is a premium in dorm rooms or in apartments with roommates. These hanging drawers provide more storage and take up less space than a dresser.

15. Ikea Storage Bag

College move-in day is hectic, expect to be lugging things up and down stairs all day long. These bags store all of the essentials and can easily be stored flat and under a bed when not in use.

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