Teach Your College Student to Be a Packrat

As you pack the car and then move your college student into his dorm room or apartment, you may wish that he had less “stuff”.  Interestingly, when it comes time to move your student out of his dorm room or apartment, the “stuff” seems to have multiplied.  So why, then, might we suggest that you should teach your student to be more of a packrat and hold on to more things?  We are not suggesting that your student needs to hold on to everything.  Much of what your student accumulates during his college years can easily go by the wayside.  However, there are a few things that your student should be sure to save – at least until he has his diploma in hand.

Holding on to the following seven things may be important.

  • The college catalog from the year that she enters college.  Your student may have a physical, hard copy of the catalog, or it may be on a CD or online.  Your student should make sure that she has access to the catalog and that she refers to it often.  The college catalog will be the source of information about policies and requirements.  If requirements should change in subsequent years, your student may be held to the requirements of the year she enters college rather than to revised standards.  It is important that she know these requirements so that she can clarify her needs.
  • All financial receipts from the college financial office or from scholarship or other sources.  It is important to keep a careful record of what you have paid or who has received your money.
  • Copies of all forms turned in.  Before your student turns in forms for anything, dropping or adding a class, withdrawing from a class, registering for a class or registering to take a class pass/fail, or any other required form, he should make a photocopy and keep that copy in a safe place.  Mistakes do happen.  Forms do get misplaced.  It may be important for your student to be able to prove that he completed a form.
  • All e-mail correspondence with college offices and faculty members.  It is often crucial that your student be able to go back to recall a conversation – or to prove that a conversation happened.
  • All paper correspondence and letters from the college.
  • Some textbooks in his major.  Although students are usually anxious to resell their textbooks at the end of the semester, your student should think carefully about whether he may want to go back to the basics in his major, or whether he may need to refresh his memory at the time of a capstone class or comprehensive exam during his senior year.  For the small amount of money that he will probably get from reselling his books, he may want to hang on to some of them.
  • Copies of all papers and assignments turned in, including all early drafts, and all tests and/or quizzes returned.  If she has copies of papers with grades or comments on, even better.  If there is ever a question about a grade or about the originality of your student’s work, having copies of early drafts and copies of tests will help your student support his claim.  Your student may also want to include copies of some of her very best work when she is applying for jobs or graduate school after college.

Although students may not want all of this extra paperwork filling space, and most students may never need this information, if an occasion arises where your student needs to refer to his papers, he will be grateful that he has kept them.  Keeping them in an organized, easily accessible file or box, perhaps filed by year or semester, will mean that your student will be able to easily find and use what he needs when he needs it.  Although it may mean that you need to fit an extra box in that car for the ride home, it will be well worth it.

Related Posts:

The College Catalog: Source of Information for Parents of College Students

Why You Should Encourage Your College Student to Use Her College E-Mail

College Textbooks: Tools of the Trade


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