Student Living Essentials

The high school graduation banner has been taken down and all confetti has been swept up! Can you believe your baby is now a teenager — a college or university-bound teenager? Living away from you (whether across the city or a plane ride away) is a huge step for you and your teenager. Here’s how to get them ready for student living now, so you can relax and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Ask, Ask, and Ask Some More

Check the school’s website for a supply list, as they are often posted for new students. Then, get your child to check online for any student-only forums for those “secret" tips and tricks for student living. Ask friends and parents who’ve had children off to school already for a year or two for “old hand” ideas. Keep an eye out for rules and regulations; for instance, before you purchase a kettle or coffee maker, make sure the school’s dorm allows them, as some do not due to the heat they can create. Ask third-year students specific questions, like, “What were three items you wish you had the first week?” or “What two things would have made your transition to student living easier?”

Student Living Basics 101

Don’t overlook the every day stuff. A properly outfitted student living space will never be complete without pens, lined and clean printer paper (more than you’d think!), a replacement ink cartridge (because you will always run out the day before the essay is due!), highlighters, sticky notes, spiral notebooks, paper clips and staplers…. Think of it this way: your child’s new full-time job is learning, so full-time that they need to LIVE there! Arm them for success with the proper tools.

Organize for Optimal Success

Does the school supply furniture and equipment? Some dorm rooms come equipped with everything including lamps and printers onsite, while others are bare bones —concrete rooms with only a bed frame. Confirm requirements (and get measurements) in advance of move-in day so your not-so-little is ready! One thing you will definitely need is extra storage. Get some colourful bins or a small rolling organizer cart or dresser if space allows. Just like goldfish, humans tend to grow into their environment, so expect storage needs to increase during the school year. Another thing to consider: day planners and wall calendars they can use to get a grip on their new exciting/intimidating schedules!

TIP: Many off-campus rentals or dorm rooms come with little, shared, or no closet space, or are outfitted with only two or three hooks, so make sure hangers (or a rolling rack if space allows) make your list, too!

Creature Comforts

College and university can be an amazing and liberating time, but it is also a time of massive change and your child will likely want some creature comforts to help them feel grounded. Once you have school needs firmly in hand, turn to comfort supplies. Can your child have a mini fridge for snacks and drinks? Don’t forget their favourite posters and pictures in frames from home! String some mini lights and get a throw for their bed and you are talking hotel-level comfort.

You’ve always helped your child on their path to success, and just because they are leaving home, is no reason to stop! The college and university years are an exciting time for everyone in the family, and going in prepared for anything is just one more way we can give kids the best chance for amazing memories of their years of student living!

Stay updated with all things Staples this summer by checking out our back to school centre at

About the Author: Erica Ehm is Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Ehm & Co and YMC. In the 80’s and 90’s she became the voice of a generation hosting MuchMusic. Today she is raising a new generation, her teenage son and daughter.

By Michelle Janzso

July 23, 2021

Staples Canada