Teach Your College Student to Be a Packrat

As you pack the car and then move your college student into their dorm room or apartment, you may wish that they had less “stuff”.  Interestingly, when it comes time to move your student out of their 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 the 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 they have their diploma in hand.

Holding on to the following seven things may be important.

  • The college catalog from the year that your student enters college.  Your student may have a physical, hard copy of the catalog, or it may be online.  Your student should make sure that they have access to the catalog and that they refer 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 they enter college rather than to revised standards.  It is important to know these requirements.
  • 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, they should make a photocopy or scan it 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 they submitted a form. If they receive a receipt for the form, keep that as well.
  • 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 their major.  Although students are usually anxious to resell their textbooks at the end of the semester, your student should think carefully about whether they may want to go back to the basics in their major, or whether they may need to refresh their memory at the time of a capstone class or comprehensive exam during senior year.  For the small amount of money that they will probably get from reselling books, your student 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 your student 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 a claim.  Your student may also want to include copies of some of their very best work when they are 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 these papers, they will be grateful that they have 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 they need when they need 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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