5 items to bring with and leave home when going to college

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Going to college

Degrees of change

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Setting sail for school can be one of the most exciting times in the life of a teenager eager to go away from home.

The excitement level to head to college is so high, said Sarah Avery, area hall director for selection and training at Naperville's North Central College, that students sometimes forget the simplest of things.

“A lot of students forget school supplies,” Avery said. “They’re so excited they forget to bring pens and pencils.”

What not to bring is almost as important as all of the must-haves. Avery provided lists that cover both.

Bring it with:

1. A bedding set and toiletries in bulk are important, but be sure to have the right size sheets.

“Most colleges these days have beds that need extra-long, twin sheets,” Avery said.

2. Decorations for the room and familiar items – such as stuffed animals – bring familiarity to an otherwise bland space.

3. Landline phones are important for spaces that don’t get the best cellular reception.

“A landline phone gives parents an extra way to contact [their child],” Avery said. “Local campus calls [at North Central] are free.

4. Consider a safe for small valuables.

“We do tell students that there is a zero percent chance things will be stolen from your room if they lock their windows and doors,” Avery said. “They just have to remember their keys.”

5. An extra lock for laptops allows students to anchor their computers to desks, which are much more difficult to lift and steal.

Leave it at home:

1. Don’t bring a car. Most schools have a campus transportation system that trumps the hassles of having a car for the student, and his or her parents.

“A shuttle system takes them to the mall, Target and the grocery store,” Avery said about the students who live on-campus at North Central.

2. Printers are not a necessity. Some schools even offer printing credits included in tuition.

Every year fewer students bring printers, Avery said, “because we have the library and labs that they can use to print,” said Avery.

3. Halogen lamps, toasters, curtains and mass use of paper on the walls are forbidden at North Central because of the risk of fire.

“There is a restriction on how much of the wall can be covered in paper,” Avery said. “And curtains, some are not treated with chemicals that are needed to keep them anti-flammable.”

4. Posters help liven up a room, but bring only a few as they too are a fire hazard when too close to warm surfaces.

5. Pets are the toughest to let go, but must be left at home. Some schools – like North Central – do allow a small selection of pets in their campus housing.

“Fish are the only pet allowed on campus,” Avery said, referencing the student handbook that guides students on what is acceptable behavior. “We request that they fit in a five gallon tank.”

Sometimes it feels like the list of things needed for college is so robust that there is no way it will fit inside the tiniest of rooms.

Not to worry, it is possible to skate by on the bare minimum.

“You could get by on campus just with stuff for class and clothes,” Avery said. “And an alarm clock.”

Follow Matthew Schwerha on Twitter @MatthewSchwerha