Saturday, August 4, 2018

Off-to-college packing list

In the spirit of the content of this post, I am attempting to author it entirely from my pixel 2 phone! And because I struggle to type on a phone, I'm using voice tools.

My daughter will be leaving for her freshman year in college in about 10 days. Needless to say, we have been busy preparing everything she might need to bring with her. As we have been perusing the back-to-school shelves in various stores, something dawned on me. Most of what I packed to take with me to my freshman year in college back in 1986, has been replaced for my daughter, in 2018, by her smartphone.

Some of these things that she does not need to pack are obvious. She doesn't need a touch-tone landline. Nor does she need a flashlight, or an address book, or envelopes and stamps. Some of the things she doesn't need are a bit nostalgic. For instance, she doesn't need a push pin cork board or a white board to hang on her dorm door. Who will stop by to write a message on her door when they can just send her a Snapchat?

The more I thought about what she didn't need, the list became more and more interesting. Is there really any use any longer in your dorm room for a television or a calculator? She has never owned a stereo so she won't bring that. And her headphones no longer keep her tethered to her music source. She doesn't need a checkbook or even a physical credit card or debit card. Ostensibly, she could Google pay or Apple pay her way through any necessary transactions. She certainly doesn't need a printer. Go paperless. And, I can imagine the day when she wouldn't even need a laptop.

Now the question arises, what does she need that I would never have thought of bringing with me because, in all likelihood, it didn't even exist? Likely, a bunch of portable chargers. And a complement of cords and different adapters to be sure that all of her devices can charge on the fly. It is on those devices that she will access the services to which the she subscribes and the databases her university provides, because she won't have magazines delivered to her mailbox and will have less need (any need?) for textbooks. Do college students even have mailboxes anymore?

So the question that I am now asking not just as a parent but as an educator is this: how are her professors and her university prepared to engage with her in this learning journey because she is not, and really never has, lived in an analog world? And when we engage with our K-12 students, how are we preparing them for their unknown future? How will we nurture the habits of mind of innovation, problem solving, entrepreneurship? How will we contribute to the development of empathetic, global citizens? How will we encourage and cultivate the flexible thinking necessary to adapt to and thrive in this rapidly changing world? (Please share your thoughts in response to these questions in the comments!)


  1. I'm sure they have mailboxes. Where else will all of the credit card offers go? If she majors in math or engineering, she'll likely still need a separate calculator. Otherwise? Not likely. Something my wife packed for college your daughter'll not need because of a phone or laptop: a typewriter. At least toiletries and clothing haven't been replaced by computers, just the shopping for them.

  2. Well articulated blog! The interplay of present College-ready learners and their ever dynamic digital world/future of work IN CONTRAST with the educators, faculty etc a lot non or partially responsive to changing trends is the proverbial "New Wine in an Old Wine Skin".
    #Food4Thot - how are her professors and her university prepared to engage with her in this learning journey because she is not, and really never has, lived in an analog world?
    #MoreNow #FutureThinking #FutureReady