SIKESTON - After helping her oldest daughter move to college and to Washington, D.C. following graduation this May, Cheryl White of Matthews has learned quite a bit about living in small quarters.
And now that her youngest daughter is preparing to move to the dorms in a couple of weeks, all that experience is coming in handy.
Sending a safety kit, with first aid supplies, as well as an insurance card and list of the things her daughter is allergic to, is one thing White has learned to do.
"A band-aid isn't going to be as accessible (at college) as it is at home," White said, adding that she also included cough syrup and allergy medicine in the kit. "I kind of go back and think of the things I remember that I seem to purchase every year."
White also bought a can of Fix-A-Flat, a gallon of water and a blanket for each of her daughters to keep in case of car trouble.
These everyday items were also helpful for Leanna DeWitt, 20, of Sikeston. "My mom sent me a sewing kit, hammer, nails, light bulbs and batteries," she said. "All that stuff you don't think to buy."
As many college students find, space is pretty limited in dorm rooms. "Just learn what you can barely live off of and live off that," DeWitt advised. She and White gave some tips to use the limited space as wisely as possible.
Buying flat Rubbermaid plastic totes was one essential DeWitt recommended. "They would slide under your bed or stack well," she recalled. "They're good for sweaters, sweatshirts and bulky stuff."
Big and small storage containers, from plastic dressers to hangers that hold several pairs of pants also help manage space, White said. "I don't think you can have enough of the storage containers," she said.
White has also purchased a desk lamp and alarm clock that will clip to the headboard, to help save some more space for her daughter. "Anything you can find that you can clip on to the headboard or to the top of the mattress if you are on a bottom bunk will work out really well," she said.
But for those who don't want to bunk their beds, DeWitt suggested lofting beds or setting them as high as possible, so larger totes, a refrigerator, microwave, and possibly even furniture would fit underneath as well.
Another space saver White discovered after her first daughter went to college were air-lock packing bags. "You hook a vacuum hose in it and it sucks out all the air," she said. This is a good way to store sweaters and other items, not only while at school but for moving, since the bags are reusable.
Since students have to share bathrooms, they should pack shower shoes and a bathrobe. "Hide your shower stuff so other people don't use it," DeWitt added, while White recommended buying a drying rack for towels and other clothes.
And students should have plenty of quarters and detergent to do laundry, in addition to a hamper, bag or basket for their dirty clothes. "We bought a big canvas laundry bag with a drawstring," White said.
Dry erase boards are good items, too. Students can hang them on their door for people to leave messages on.
It's also a good idea for students to have their own computer. "Don't even try to share one," DeWitt said. Even if a roommate has one, that still doesn't ensure access when needed. Quite a few students have laptop computers to save space, as well as use to take class notes.
Students should have lots of non-perishable food items and snack foods, even if they have a meal plan. DeWitt suggested students take a George Foreman grill.
"We're going to try to find things that aren't perishable and are healthy ," White said, adding that her older daughter ate a lot of Ramen noodles. She recommended waiting to buy items such as food until arriving at the school if possible.
But, it's also important to be aware of your school's policies when it comes to items like George Foreman grills, toasters and candles. Some colleges restrict items like these.
And it is also a good idea to check the bed sizes in the dorm. A lot of college beds use extra long twin sheets, White said, and the regular sized sheets won't fit.
Since it will be the first time away from home for most students, they should bring photographs, stuffed animals or other items to keep from getting homesick. White's daughter is taking a photo collage, in addition to a bulletin board to hang up other photos and reminders.
"Don't forget your phone charger," DeWitt reminded. White suggested buying a calling card for college students, just in case they couldn't get cell phone service.
And parents shouldn't get too upset if their children start calling less - that's actually a good sign. "That means you've done your job," White said. "You've raised an independent adult."