I’m not sure why exactly, but it’s the towels that really send me over the edge.
Parents: Do not, under any circumstances, give in to the idea of buying new towels for your teenagers as they go off to college. Think about it: Who should get new towels? The adult who actually does laundry and folds things? Or the near-adult who is as likely to skate on said new towels to wipe up spilled beer as he is to separate whites and colors?
I know how easy it can be to get trapped into the notion that sending your little darling away without every possible amenity will lead her to fail classes, drink uncontrollably and have a terrible life. But, honest, towels won’t make or break a future president or Nobel scientist.
One website recommends that incoming freshmen bring “bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths — 2 to 3 sets.”
Sets? Are you kidding me? One thing my kids — and dare I say yours too — absolutely do not need are “sets” of towels and washcloths. Sure, they need towels; even those who take a shower only every week or so might want to dry off before putting those filthy jeans back on.
But let your about-to-be college student choose a few towels from among those you wish you never owned. That mauve bath towel that came from some kind old auntie? Or the beach towel decorated with faux Hawaiian flowers that is (just a little) stained? Couldn’t be more perfect for college life.
If I thought about it for more than a minute, I could also tear my hair out over sheets. Students have to bring extra-long twin sheets to most dorms — sheets that no one has at home unless he’s a professional basketball player.
One solution: Some colleges have “free stores” — rooms where students can take what other students have abandoned. A little bleach and the super-hot washing machine setting, and those XL sheets’ll be good as new.
I don’t think it’s paranoid to suspect that the ubiquitous lists of dorm-life must-haves are the work of the evil cabal that has turned us into consumers who equate “stuff” with “love.” Towels and sheets are just the start. I don’t even know what some of the dozens of items on one packing list are: Color catchers? Wonder hangers? Bath pouf?
I’m not 100% certain, but I think a student can graduate without a bath pouf.