I’m back after a much-needed break – all recharged and ready to take on the 2020-2021 college application season! As a lot of colleges are opening their campuses for in-person classes this fall (although I assume many will change that decision along the way), if you are in the process of moving to campus, you must be shopping (like crazy!) for your dorm room right now. At this time of the year, a very common question I get from students would be, “What should I pack?”, which I would answer with a list of all the items that you can find pretty much online. Here’s a sample list put together by College Board’s Big Future website. This year, thanks to COVID-19, all college-bound students are in for the added stress of figuring out what to pack in case they test positive and are sent to an isolated place to self-quarantine. As some of you know, I am originally from Turkey. What you probably don’t know about me is that I’m a survivor of the major earthquake that hit the northwestern parts of Turkey in 1999. With a 7.6 magnitude, it claimed the lives of 17,000 people and left more than 250,000 people homeless according to Wikipedia. I was one of the lucky people who didn’t suffer any losses, but the scariest thought of living through a similar earthquake again brought upon the idea of an “earthquake bag”, which was ready for grab-and-go in case we were hit by another one and had to evacuate our homes. Being well-prepared for this invisible enemy – AKA as COVID-19 – is no different. If you’ll be living on campus this fall, you need to be ready for the worst-case scenario and have your “go bag” handy if and when the virus hits home. Instead of sharing my advice on getting your dorm room ready and look all cute, stylish, and fun, this year I’ll share a list of all the essentials that you must pack in a “go bag” and store in an easy-to-grab spot in your dorm room.
Here’s your list!
- A name tag to be attached to the bag (name, last name, contact info, etc…)
- List of emergency contacts
- Medical information (list of allergies, prescriptions, etc…)
- Extra cell phone charger
- 2 or more complete changes of comfortable clothes: sweatshirts, PJ pants, T-shirts, underwear, and socks
- Flip flops or slippers
- Pillow (if you’re pretty specific and picky about your pillow type! + a good-night’s sleep is key to recovery!)
- Fleece throw
- Some sort of distraction — a fun activity
- Granola bars
- Your favorite candy bar (to boost your mood!)
- Reusable water bottle
- Tea packs
- Body lotion
- Feminine hygiene products
- Hand soap
- Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
- Hair brush and hair ties
- Antibacterial wipes
- Laundry detergent pods in a Ziplock bag
- Masks in a clean Ziplock bag
- First Aid Kit
- Cough drops (Consult a tele-doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine!)
- Vitamins (D, C, Zinc) (Consult a tele-doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine!)
- Sambucus (elderberry) for immune support (Consult a tele-doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine!)
- Tylenol to bring fever down and help with aches (Consult a tele-doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine!)
- Mucinex DM or Robitussin Cough & Chest Congestion (Consult a tele-doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine!)
- Vicks VapoRub
- Extra prescription medicine
- Digital thermometer
- Pulse Oximeter – Monitoring your oxygen levels after testing positive for COVID-19 is crucial, so I have this one at home just in case. This small device is very easy to use, gives you a BIG peace of mind, and works miracles!
- A copy of your medical power of attorney and HIPAA release – so that your parents can be informed about what’s going on and will be able to make decisions for you in the event you cannot!
In addition to your “Go Bag”, make sure you have a photo of your health insurance card and your driver’s license (both front and back) saved on your phone. Memorize your SSN. If you have an iPhone, consider activating Apple Pay on your phone. Having all of these important documents at your fingertips will go a long way especially if you happen to feel too weak to get out of bed when you need that information.
Campus life will certainly be different this year. Always remember that everyone is in the same boat as you. You aren’t alone. COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it. It is important not to panic but to be prepared for what lies ahead. We are about to enter a new era where virtual reality will become our reality. There are still so many unknowns due to the rapid spread of this virus, so a lot can change overnight. At EdMission Possible, our customized virtual college counseling services make it possible to work with students from all states across the U.S. as well as many countries around the world. Social distancing is the key to fighting this vicious virus, and we are here to help you do that with our online counseling services while we guide you throughout your transition to college smoothly. We will get through this and come out even stronger. We will prevail. This, too, shall pass. In the meantime, just try and make the best of your college experience – although it may not be what you signed up for. Be well and stay safe.
Looking forward to brighter days…
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Independent Educational Consultant, Founder, and President | EdMission Possible
Burcak Deniz Cakir has a B.A. in Foreign Language Education, an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and an M.B.A., all of which have laid the solid foundation for her professional experiences as an educator. She has completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession. She has previously taught English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) in Turkey and in the U.S. at Virginia Tech, Harcum College, Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick Campuses), and Pace University. Having taught EFL/ESL at the college level for over 20 years, Burcak can communicate effectively with college-age students from different countries. She is bilingual in Turkish and English. Her extensive experience with international students from many countries including but not limited to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and China has given her the opportunity to understand their unique problems that domestic students may not be facing throughout the college admissions process, such as but not limited to extra testing requirements (TOEFL, IELTS), the translation of high school transcripts and recommendation letters, different financial forms and statements required, visa issues, being homesick, culture shock, etc.
Burcak is an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and a Voting Member of the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC). She currently lives in Edison, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and her four-legged son. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family, reading (lots!) about college admissions and college essays, watching her favorite movies, getting lost in design magazines, and decorating her house.