During College: The Right Care Package Can Help Your Student Do Well On Finals And Save Money

Sending the college student in your life a finals week “care package” is an old tradition. But there are practical reasons for doing it.

Final exams and papers often count disproportionately toward grades, creating stressful tension and anxiety that can undermine academic performance. Also, students can get so busy cramming for finals that they lack time to address their basic needs — cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. And since finals occur when the term ends, some students may run short of money.

Here are some ideas to start your thinking about your student’s care package:

Food: Care packages typically include edibles. That’s good, because the National #Real College Survey shows that 45% of enrolled students experience at least limited or uncertain access to nutritionally adequate, safe food. This may be due to limited family resources, insufficient student aid or, as noted above, other finals-related circumstances — even for adequately-funded students.

Stress often leads to snacking. Since 67% of Generation Z values the nutritional content of its food, you’ll want to pack healthy snacks — fruit bars, microwaveable oatmeal, peanuts, etc. As substitutes for skipped meals, include gift cards for restaurants your student enjoys. Food delivery service gift cards can make these restaurants’ locations irrelevant if they’re in her college town.

Finally, most students have favorite homemade “comfort” foods. Don’t forget to pack some of those no matter what else you put in her care package.

Stress Relievers: Offset stress with care package contents like aromatherapy candles, back and neck massagers, CDs or digital tracks of relaxing music, gift cards for massages someplace on or near campus, or stress-relieving pillows.

Time-Savers: Does she live off-campus? Finals leave little time for tidying up, so if dust and grime bother your student, look into booking a service to spend an hour or two cleaning her residence.

If she commutes to campus without access to timely public transportation, a ride-sharing gift card can save her the time and hassle of locating vacant parking places near her exam locations.

Money-Savers: Most suggestions listed above will help your student save money and reduce stress, save time, etc. But you may also want to include a general purpose gift card for costs she’ll incur while traveling home.

If your student needs financial help but you can’t give it, advise her to inquire with the financial aid office about the availability of micro-grants or emergency loans.

No No’s: Leave bottled and canned beverages, candies that melt, cigarettes, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and smokeless tobaccos out of care packages. They’re easily ruined even if they can be mailed or shipped. Also avoid bulky items she’ll have to store or ship home when finals end.

These are just ideas. You know your student best, so you’re best-positioned to come up with the right contents for her care package. Send it so she knows you support her, especially with contents to address her unique needs during one of the most important times of her year.

Financial issues have long been the leading causes of students dropping out of college. Future, present and past college students may consult College Affordability Solutions at no charge, so feel free to contact us for assistance in thinking about how to coach and help your student to keep such problems from endangering the dream (and necessity) of a college degree.

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