A college wish list

Students away from home say they appreciate family care packages

Students away from home say they appreciate family care packages

March 03, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

Parents, get ready for a shocker: As much as your college-age children might suggest otherwise, they love hearing from you and they really appreciate the nice things you do for them.

The Herald-Mail took an informal survey of Tri-State-area college students living in dorms to find out what they like to find in their mailbox from their family and friends - especially now as the midsemester crunch approaches.

Overwhelmingly, students said care packages from parents, family members or friends brightened their day, and many said the most important part of a care package was getting a handwritten note from their mother, father, siblings or grandparents. Students who don't get care packages sent to them said they wish someone would send them a package while they are away at school.

"No matter who the student is, they would always like to get things," said Curt Shade, a sophomore at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va.


Between papers, projects and studying for exams, there are days that college students feel chained to their desks and can't even get away to grab a bite at the student dining hall, students said. On days like that it's nice to have some easy-to-prepare food, preferably sent from home.

Most dorm-living college students have access to a microwave and refrigerator, said Shepherd senior Elizabeth Whetzel. Students learn to make good use of such appliances to prepare quick snacks and meals such as popcorn, instant noodle soup or Kraft's Easy Mac microwaveable macaroni and cheese.

While every student has a wish list of items they'd like to receive from loved ones, sometimes it's really the thought that counts.

"My mom will just send me a card now and then, and my grandmother will send me newspaper clippings," said Lisa Thompson, a junior at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. Knowing that her family, who lives in Virginia, is thinking of her makes her distance from them a little easier, she said. "I don't get to see them much at all."

"It's very exciting to get a package," added Stephanie Forbeck, a junior at Wilson College. "Who knew going to the mailbox could be an ego boost?"

College students were asked what they would like in care packages. Here's their wish list:

  • Money - "The money is always good. You always need money for something," said Dustin Corbitt, a sophomore at Shepherd University.

  • Family mementos - B.J. Rice, a sophomore at Shepherd University, gets packages from his family in Illinois about once a month, and his parents send him cards and notes on the holidays. While his parents send him useful items such as gift cards and money, he also enjoys receiving pictures of his 6-year-old sister, whom he doesn't see often.

  • Gift cards - Find out what stores are close to your child's college. At Shepherd, students said they would most like gift cards to Wal-Mart and Kohl's. With gift cards "you can go get food and water and new clothes - stuff like that without spending your own money," Rice said. At Shepherd University and Wilson College, many students said they have cars on campus and they would love a spontaneous gas card tucked in a care package.

  • Goodies - Students said they definitely appreciate packages filled with their favorite junk food. Chocolate and candy, cookies, crackers and chips all made the short list for most students.

  • School supplies - For her birthday, Amanda Barney received a care package from her older cousin filled with different kinds of pens and paper. "Just basic stuff, but you still need it," Barney said. It's nice to have school supplies on hand, students said, so they don't have to make a trip off campus.

  • Magazines - "Every week my grandma sends me a People magazine that she hides money in," said Brittany Ginn, a sophomore at Shepherd University. "I've been addicted to (People) ever since I was young." Getting her favorite magazine from her grandmother is special for Ginn.

  • Dorm food - Students like extra food and snacks in their dorm rooms for those days when studying has them up late or they can't make it to the dining hall in time. Top Ramen noodles, microwaveable food, juice, breakfast bars, Easy Mac and Cup Noodles were the most frequently suggested foods.

  • Dorm supplies - Corbitt can't seem to keep a stock of dryer sheets on hand, and Whetzel always needs cleaning supplies. Items for laundry and for cleaning the room are appreciated in care packages - and might even act as a reminder to work on cleanliness, students said.

  • Quarters - Quarters "are more highly valued than any other denomination of money," said Beth Adams, a senior at Wilson College. Students need quarters for doing laundry, feeding meters and grabbing snacks out of vending machines. A roll of quarters thrown into a care package now and then go a long way, students said.

    What they want

    The Herald-Mail asked several college students what they would like in care packages. Here are their top picks:

    • Money

    • Family mementos

    • Gift cards

    • Goodies

    • School supplies

    • Magazines

    • Dorm food

    • Dorm supplies

    • Quarters

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