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College admissions officers and freshmen from around the country have the following advice.
- Dorm and Apartment Essentials
- Personal Health Information
- Job-Hunting Information
- Additional Information

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Dorm and Apartment Essentials

  1. Start at least nine months before to get what you need for the apartment or dorm room.
  2. Before shopping, get a list of approved items from the school. Often schools don't allow certain items (halogen lamps, hot plates) due to fire safety laws or other reasons.
  3. WHN TIP: Road Trip?

    It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of preparing for the college experience - but don’t forget to consider the travel plans that will get you there. If you are road tripping to college, be sure to prepare a Car Emergency Kit in case of an emergency.

    Visit these articles for additional car travel information:

  4. Bringing valuables? List the model and serial number of major items, such as television, stereo or computer. Have the student take one copy of the information with him and leave the second one at home.

    WHN TIP: Dorm/Apartment Checklist.

    Know what to take with you! Download, fill in, & save our Dorm/Apartment Inventory to your desktop.

    Write down serial numbers, make, model and price of items for insurance purposes and make copies of your inventory.

    Keep one at school, the other at home.

  5. Review your insurance policies (health, car, home owner's) to see if ensure you'll have have adequate coverage away from home, or if any riders need to be attached to cover computers, musical instruments, or other items.
    • Home owner's insurance should cover personal possessions if the student lives in a dorm and is still considered a dependent. If not: look into renter's insurance.

      Renter's insurance usually offers two types of coverage: liability and personal property.

      Liability will provide coverages against bodily injury or accident claims; personal property provides payment if personal belongings are damaged or stolen.

    • The college may provide a student health plan that is more convenient and more cost effective than your health insurance. Compare policies and choose what best meets your needs.
  6. Before buying a computer, contact the school to find out what systems are compatible with the school’s network, or whether you need to purchase a computer in advance at all.
    • The school might provide computers or have deals with computer companies that are cheaper than buying retail.
  7. Consider a calling card, subscribe to a low-cost 800-number phone service provider, or look into cell phone packages that wave roaming charges.
    • Cell phones have the added advantage of saving you from leaving messages with possibly unreliable roommates!

      If there are roommates, discourage getting long-distance phone service for the whole room/apartment because students could end up with a bill for calls they didn't make.

  8. Review checkbook/deibt card maintenance and credit card financing to avoid “statement shock” or “charge card-itis.” Set up online access to all bank and credit card accounts so everyone can monitor balances.

    Statistics from Nellie Mae, a national student loan-financing corporation, indicate that nearly one quarter of undergraduates have credit cards with balances between $3,000 and $7,000.

  9. Discuss a during-school ‘allowance’.
    • You might offer a debit card linked to a separate savings account into which you deposit an agreed-upon allowance.

      Be sure any minimum balance requirements are clear so there are no costly monthly fees.

      If your college-bound kid wants his or her own account, consider a joint account. With a joint account and online banking, you can monitor the balance and transfer funds as needed at any time of day. (Or at least offer financial counsel in case of trouble!)

Personal Health Information

  1. Prepare an “Emergency Information Folder."
  2. Create an Emergency Information Sheet and make sure the roommates know where it is in case of an emergency.

    This is a 'starter list' to track your emergency information. If you would like a detailed form to track your health information, click here for a PDF print out form from the University of Texas.

  3. In the folder or on the form - remember to include:
    • A list of allergies or special medical conditions
    • Contact information for parents, family doctor, dentist and other health care providers the student has a history with
    • Insurance cards and forms
    • Insurance agent contact information
    • A list of which hospitals or clinics near the school or apartment that can be used on your insurance plan. For people under 18, parental authorization for medical care may be necessary.
    • Refill information for routine medicines such as allergy pills, as well as the current eyeglass or contact lens prescriptions.
  4. Some schools require up-to-date or new vaccinations (TB test, meningococcal, etc.) before beginning the school year.

    Contact the school’s health services department to find out if students need to complete any vaccinations before or when they arrive, as well as what exemptions are allowed.

Job-Hunting Information

  1. Job-hunting while at college? Bring a copy of the following:
    • Birth certificate (you may need a certified copy)
    • Naturalization papers or alien work permit, if applicable
    • Copies of resumes and letters of recommendation
    • Address and phone numbers for references
  2. Update your WHN emergency contact list on your phone, computer, or phone book.

    Include family and friends’ names and important dates (birthday, anniversary, etc.) Keep a hard copy somewhere in case you can't access the information stored in your phone or computer.

  3. Consider purchasing a file cabinet with a lock or a fireproof box to store valuables or important papers.

Additional Information

Remember ...

The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. These tips are from doctors, college professionals and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a lawyer, doctor or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or healthcare-related decisions.

Thank you ...

A special thank you to the industry professionals, residential life professionals, first responders, students and families who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.


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