SURVEY SAYS: What Did You Leave Behind for College?

July 28, 2011 ( - In my household we’re beginning to make “back to college” preparations. 


So when a reader (who is doing this for the first time this year) suggested that we ask readers to share the thing you (or your children) forgot to bring to college that you most regretted leaving behind – well, it seemed like a good question, well-timed.

Now, to make things easy, I offered a list to choose from – and on that list, the most common thing cited was…

Well – before we get there, let’s work our way up the list.  First off, no one cited:



Cell phone



Warm weather gear

Athletic gear



However, I’m guessing that most of these didn’t get a vote not because they were not important, but because they were so obvious/needed they didn’t get forgotten.  

There were some that got votes – but not many:


Cell phone charger

Power strip


An honorable mention in this group was “umbrella” – which showed up several times, though it didn’t make MY list.  Another was… money!


Before we move to the things that were at the top of the list, here are the (other) things that were submitted:

Halloween costume raw materials!

Alarm clock


Acceptance to the school

A BB gun to shoot my roommate...

took too much

shower shoes

We did not forget anything.

Costumes for cos-play conventions

USB cable to connect computer to printer


Cash is still king.


A comfy chair


That said, the top three things cited were...


Snacks/food, cited by 7.8%. 

Sure you can buy that stuff on campus – but (a) it always seems to be a lot more expensive, and (b) no matter where you buy it, it’s always more expensive than letting Mom/Dad pay for it.

The second-most cited “forgotten” item was…



Cold weather gear, cited by 8.2%.  But hey, even Maine is pretty warm in August.

But the top-cited item left at home when packing for college was…



Hangers.  That’s right, hangers.  On the other hand, only about 12% cited that item.

There were, as there always were, some great contributions this week – these, however, were my favorites:

I forgot to bring my common sense!

My child!

Completely forgot the full academic scholarship.

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “We NEVER had enough beer”.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!  And enjoy the additional verbatims on the pages that follow!


Halloween suddenly becomes very big on campus.  I regretted not having the odd color nail polish, the face paints and wild wigs I used as raw materials for costumes.  Favorite photos are another often forgotten item.  Take time to print a few, even if they are only for you to post inside your closet.  Especially for first timers, it can be lonely and a favorite photo will bring a smile.

There's nothing you should regret leaving behind in college since it's a fresh new start and you can always make do if you need to.

I was all too eager to leave my childhood behind when I went off to college, then realized all too soon that youth is wasted on the young!

Contraception?  Really?  Good Lord, my son won't be going away to college for 3 more years but that would never have made my radar.  I'm hoping on having his guilt gene extremely well developed by then!

I found out it bothered me ALOT when my baby went away to college!  I cried all the way home...and probably for the next week.  She would probably say that she wished SHE had left her cell phone at home, then I couldn't call her so much and tell her to study, and make sure she was back in the dorms and in bed at the "proper" (read: too early!) time!  Again...sigh.....

Not a big thing, but I kept going into my kitchen drawer for my slotted spoon... realizing as soon as I opened the drawer,,, I didn't own one , it was Mom's...   Lucky for me, after I mentioned it I received a package with 4 of them...


I went to school where it rained a lot.  You could always tell the freshmen because they didn't have an umbrella the first time it rained.  The school store sold a lot at the beginning of the year.

Be ready to spend time and money at Walmart/Target after 'move in' to purchase all of the things your child didn't think they'd need, but suddenly they 'have to have'.

When I moved out I thought I could live without TV. That lasted about a week!

Got to find a Walmart!

Last year my cousin was on academic probation and ultimately was not allowed back to school in the fall.  He picked the 3 hour drive to campus with car loaded to tell his father he was not going back to school that fall.  (I am pretty sure if I was driving the car he and all his stuff would be sitting on the side of the road thinking of his own way back and figuring out where he was going to live after that.)

I always figured whatever was left behind could be purchased at the local Wal-Mart!

Um... cell phone charges? Thanks, make me feel old.  They weren't an option 'way back when.'  We were just happy when someone could bring a fridge!


After putting 3 through college (almost - last one is in her senior year), we have lists to use for packing, but always know we'll shell out at least $300 per semester per child at the nearby Wal-mart or Target when we drop them off.  Or, once they were old enough to drive themselves, we just sent them with a wallet full of cash for the extras and stuff they forgot.

Her mom handles all of this...I am out of the middle and both they, and I, are happier for it.

Not only do I like a neat desk, a tidy home, I am like Santa- I have a list and I check it twice!   Forgetting something is not an option.

My daughter goes to school about three hours away.  I wound up shuttling back and forth a couple times in her first year to bring her things.  In particular, we encouraged her not to bring her costumes with her to school as there would be no place to wear them.  Little did we know that there were anime, LARP and cos-play clubs at the school that she joined and needed her costumes.  She proved us wrong and i had to bring them to her.   I guess I just didn't realize how many other kids have similar interests to hers.

I packed some things for my son's first year that upon return he said he did not want to bring back next year: plastic plates (he prefers to use paper disposable plates)and plastic storage containers (did not need them).  My son also told me that we were sending him too many care packages with food.

In college dorms everyone forget something, we all shared that stuff we had with those that forget stuff.  That usually works good enough until the first break. 

I can't participate in this portion of the survey - I went to college in my home town.  If I forgot anything all I had to do was drive across town and pick it up.  Of course that was in the really really old days when even a college student could afford gasoline.

Tough choice between common sense and innocence (no, not that one specifically). The former took years to get back. The latter, well, sometimes I still miss it.

Didn't bring enough real food or Snacks - because the campus dining hall was disgusting!  I never gained the Freshman 15 - who could gain weight eating that!

"I lived at home as an undergrad.  During grad school, I had an apartment and was on my own, so there was never a real sense of leaving...not to mention that my parents had already moved away from home before I had graduated college. 

I'm basing my answer on things my son left behind when we sent him to camp for a month this summer. He had a fan, but it was ""too big"" (or so he said).  He just wanted the same kind as everyone else, so my wife bought him one and shipped it to him."