Parent’s Corner: 6 Steps to Help Your Student’s Finances


Freshman year is the first time many college students are forced into independence. This includes managing money, planning budgets, monitoring student loans, and setting up a solid financial foundation. Here are several steps parents can take to ensure their students’ financial success and prepare them for life without mom and dad.


1. Have Them Fill Out Yearly Paperwork

Many parents of college students take it upon themselves to fill out important paperwork like FAFSA applications, taxes, and scholarship forms. While this ensures it gets done, it doesn’t show the student how or even why they need to process these forms.

If you’re not ready to let go of control completely, set up a time for both of you to do the paperwork together. Go through each question and explain your answer. You can even do this with an accountant. Let the student ask questions and encourage them to take over when they start to figure it out.

2. Help Formulate a Budget

Helping your student formulate a budget opens the door for a teachable moment. There are some very simple budgets out there that can be managed online ( or via a spreadsheet.


Another option is to show them how to do the envelope method. The student cashes out their paycheck (or allowance check) each pay period, then divides their money into envelopes for each of their expenses. For example, a $500 paycheck may be divided into 5 envelopes: $80 for gas, $100 for car insurance, $50 for school supplies, $100 in entertainment, and $170 in savings. This way, they can see just how important it is to pay off necessary bills first before “paying” themselves.

3. Set Up Independent Bank Accounts

A bank account is only worth it if the student can access it easily and maintain it on their own. If your student is studying away from their hometown, be sure to set up a bank account as soon as they reach their new school. Many medium and large size colleges now have banks that operate inside the campus making them an attractive and convenient choice. They also typically provide student bank accounts which are low on fees and easy to understand.

4. Make Savings a Priority

And don’t forget to set up a savings account as well! Teaching students about savings now will help them understand the importance down the road. Many times, college students are so focused on what comes next that they don’t process the cost of retirement or even small emergencies like replacing a car or going to the hospital.


The savings account should be the first step, as well as budgeting for savings as another. You can also consider gifting them books on saving in college that breaks down small steps they can take now. If you’re knowledgeable, help them understand the difference between retirement accounts as well as investment options. It is never too early to instill financial literacy.

5. Check In Regularly On Student Loans

Finally, don’t forget about student loans. If your student needed them to pay for college, they most likely have forgotten about them (or pushed it out of their mind). When they are home from break, take a night to log in to their online account and show them how much interest has accurred. Encourage putting some of that money from savings into the student loan account or to set aside a part of their personal budget to pay down the debt despite them being a student.


These are just a few of the steps you can take when talking money in college. By understanding the basics of financial management and having honest and open discussions about the future, your student will be on the road to financial success.


Parent’s Corner: 5 Fun Care Packages for Finals


Your favorite college student is almost finished with fall semester. Just a couple more exams, and they’ll be out the door and officially on break! But what many parents and loved ones don’t understand is that those exams aren’t just any old exam. They are actually some of the most challenging tests your college student will ever undergo, and this causes stress, fatigue, and burnout.

Instead of just sending warm words of love (which are indeed needed), you can also ensure that they are getting a little bit of fun in their lives as well with a creative care package. Personalized to what they love, these options will put a smile on their face and help them power through to the final question.

1.   Winter Wonderland Holiday Gift Basket


The snow is falling, the temperature’s dropping, and all around the United States, students are stuck inside studying. It certainly takes the beauty out of the season! But you can make them fall in love with winter all over again with a Winter Wonderland Holiday Gift Basket. There’s chocolate wafer bites, Lindor truffles, and sea salt caramel and chocolate squares to munch on and remind them just how awesome the winter break is going to be (after they ace their exams)!

2.   New England Breakfast Gift Basket


If your college student lives on their own or has access to a kitchen instead of a cafeteria, it can be hard to worry over if they are starting their mornings off with a filling breakfast. After all, it is the most important meal of the day for a reason, and it certainly shouldn’t be neglected on the day of finals. The New England Breakfast Gift Basket is a treat for them to share with roommates and friends. Complete with pancake mix, New Hampshire maple syrup, and even locally grown fruit!

3.   Snack Break Gift Basket


If your student is dedicated to their studies, they’re probably neglecting their most essential needs such as sleeping and eating. But you can send them a reminder to fill that mind and the stomach with the Snack Break Gift Basket. It comes with organic snacking staples such as kettle corn and even protein packed trail mix.

4.   Tea and Cookies Gift Basket


With winter bringing in the chill, your college student will love a bit of warmth sent their way. This tea and cookie basket is carefully curated to include winter favorites such as Earl Gray tea with organic clover honey sticks. And when drinks are not enough, they can indulge on decadent chocolate butter cookie brittle or classic sugar cookies.

5.   Popcorn and Sweets Tin


Okay, it isn’t a care package, exactly. But college students LOVE popcorn, especially when it’s mixed with candy and sweets. But this tin is not just your grandmother’s favorite blend of stale popcorn. Your college student will love testing innovative flavors such as brown sugar and honey mustard popcorn. With favorite candy like Atomic Fireballs adding even more fun, they’ll dig the options. And even better, they’ll have enough to share with their roommates and study pals!

Parent’s Corner: How to Prepare Yourself for Thanksgiving Break


Have you been counting down the days until your college student comes home for break? You’re not alone! For many parents, Thanksgiving will be the first time you see your child since dropping them off on their first day. Thanksgiving is the best time to get some quality bonding in without having to worry about rushing back on Monday morning. However, Thanksgiving break may not be all that you imagine it will be, your child could be expecting you to treat them differently. Here we break down a few situations that might occur during their time at home:


1.   Expect them to want space.

Don’t be surprised if your student isn’t as eager to celebrate being home as you are. Attempting to have it “just as before” may alienate them or make them feel like a child. Instead, give them some leeway. Negotiate curfew times and give them time to go visit with friends or to spend quiet time away from the family.

2.   Expect them to be afraid to talk.

Some parents are eager to hear what it is like living in the dorms or going to class in pajamas. However, other parents may make it clear that they do not approve of some college behaviors like staying out late at night or dating. Because of this, some students are hesitant to open up about their first semester in school. If you want to hear about their experiences, allow them to give it to you in doses. Ask more open-ended questions like, “Can you tell me about your favorite class?” or “I know you took that Art History class, did you like the professor?”

3.   Expect them to need relaxation.

Expect a lot of sleeping in! College can be stressful and tiring for even the most laid-back student. Taking a nap during the afternoon or wanting to head to bed at 9pm is the norm for returning students. Let them schedule their time home as needed, and give them options on participation. Low-stress is the best way to beat the vacation blues.

How Have an Enjoyable Break with Your Child


Pamper Them (To an Extent)

Offer to do a load of laundry or to help them get to the airport. It’s the little comforts that make students excited to come back to see mom and dad.

Be Nostalgic

Your college student will likely still want to participate in cutting the turkey or watching your favorite holiday movie. Just because they moved out doesn’t mean you should stop with beloved traditions!

Keep it Low-Pressure

Putting too much emphasis on spending time together or making this holiday perfect may make your college student feel unwelcome. Plus, with finals around the corner and huge projects due, adding stress to their plate may make it worse for them.

Be Thankful for Their Achievements

Take a moment out of the busy holiday break to express your thankfulness for their hard work at school. Tell them how proud you are of their first semester back or that you look forward to seeing them in the next theater production. These little moments make the breaks memorable.

Parent’s Corner: 3 Ways to Appreciate Your “Empty Nest”



Saying goodbye to college-aged children can bring up strong emotions, especially for first-time “empty nesters.” Going from 18 years of carting children around to having a quiet, kid-free home is a tough transition – even if you may have looked forward to it for years. Learning to love the freedom by finding enjoyment in the newly empty nest can change your entire perspective on life during your child’s college years! Below are some starting points for you to consider:

1.   Transform Your Kid’s Room

There is an ongoing debate about what to do with a child’s room once he or she has traded in an old bedroom for a dorm room. One thought is to keep the room their home base to encourage frequent visits. However, if your child now lives far from home or has an apartment for the entire year, having an empty room gathering dust can bring up more negative emotions than positives.

Reimagining the room can be a great way to slowly transition. Be reassuring that you will keep a bed for them and place their possessions in a closet or storage unit. Then, make a plan on how you can utilize the room. Make it into a new office, design a painting or craft room, or add a few leather seats and a projector for a movie space that your child will love to come home to!

2.   Don’t Stick Around

This is the perfect time to travel. For your child’s entire life, you probably picked vacations or even stayed home because of their own wants and needs. Now that they’re off on a new adventure, you’re next! Take a road trip across the United States, visit family on the other side of the country, or even board a plane for an entirely different continent. The choices are endless when you let your dreams guide you.

While travel is enticing, don’t forget to be there for your child as well, especially if they are freshmen. During this big transition, they may want to have you around for events such as a recital, homecoming, or parent’s week. Holidays, a time when all college students love to head home, may be another time when you’ll have to stay put.

3.   Throw an Adults-Only Party

Did your home become a “party place” for your children with lots of teenagers running around? Why not mimic them by inviting your own crowd over for parties? Plan dinner parties, barbecues, or pool nights. Book clubs, church meetings, and charity potlucks are also great and productive uses of a house that is made for hosting.

Consider sprucing up the place to be a relaxing retreat not only for yourself but also for your friends. If you have neighbors that are going through empty nest syndrome themselves, it may be a great way to rally around each other. After all, it takes a community to get through the first year as a parent of a college student. By easing your home and yourself through the stages of “empty nesting,” you can come out on top with a life you always envisioned having when your children become adults.

Parent’s Corner: How to Reduce Stress about Your Child’s Safety in College


After years of living under your roof, sending your child off to college for the first time can be a shock to the system. With so many horror stories about safety at universities, you may not only be mourning an empty nest, but also be worried about their wellbeing while they are away. While this is a great time for both you and your child to grow as different people, we understand that you will have inevitable nerves about them being alone. Thankfully, in today’s society you can more “plugged in” than ever. With new technology and some simple steps, you can reduce your stress and anxiety over college safety.


1.   Stay Up to Date

You don’t have to be a college student to get alerts about what is going on around campus or if there are any emergencies. Ask your child’s university about how to sign up for text, email, and call alerts. These alerts will keep you informed on a variety of different situations from something as serious as robberies to inclement weather, or even a loss of power. You can also set up a Google Alert to inform you of any news on campus.

2.   Grab Contacts

One of the most important numbers to have on you is your child’s roommate. While you shouldn’t call for any reason, contact them when there is an emergency as they most likely are closest person to your child to reach. You should also know the numbers of your student’s department, counselor, and any close friend or boyfriend/girlfriend. But beware! Use these numbers or emails in a case of a REAL emergency or risk losing trust.

3.   Take a Safety Class with Them

A great activity to do with your student is a safety or self-defense course. Offered at many community centers and gyms, your student will leave feeling prepared and you will have gained a sense of empowerment to help in dangerous situations. Plus, going together can be a great way to open up the conversation on overall safety concerns you or they may have.

4.   Set Up a Checkup Time

One of the hardest things a parent will have to do is to let go. Not seeing or hearing from your child every day can be frustrating and even upsetting, especially when you worry. Before your student goes to school, set up an amount of time you expect to be called or emailed. It should be reasonable, considering that they need their space and freedom as much as you need to know they are alright. Every other day is a great start, attempt to make it once a week by the end of the semester!

5.   Give Them the Tools

When you’re packing for your student’s departure, you will probably want to go through a lecture of how to be safe and alert. The truth is that a lot of that information may go over their heads. Instead, gift them a safety box full of handy items. For example, pack a first aid kit, back up medications, phone numbers for doctors and family members, a list of campus resources (such as university police), and defense items such as pepper spray or safety whistles. Then, place it in a lockbox or safe that can easily be stored under a bed or in a closet. You’ll rest easy knowing that they have all that they need to be safe and secure while living and studying on campus.

What are your biggest concerns about child safety? If you’re a student, how do you help your parent stay calm? Let us know!



Parent’s Corner: Our Favorite Fall Care Packages


Care packages are the perfect gift for those experiencing a hard time transitioning into college life. They’re a thoughtful way of saying you miss your child or loved one (without being too overbearing!) These OCM care packages can be a great way to connect and show that you’re thinking of them. Now that Fall is officially here and college is quickly ramping up, we’ve picked out our favorite seasonal care packages any university student is bound to love.

1.   Trick or Treater


Who says college students are too old to enjoy the spooky holiday? Candy is universal! Luckily, there are several amazing Halloween packages both big and small to choose from. The Trick or Treater seems to hit all the favorites from chips and chocolate to candy corn and sweets.

2.   Gluten Free Halloween


If your loved one has a food allergy or intolerance, or if they’re just trying to change their diet, check out the Halloween packages that take into consideration special dietary requirements. The gluten-free, vanishing vegan and hobgoblin healthy blend are great alternatives.

3.   Hocus Pocus Healthy Tea and Soup Mix


The Fall also means the returns of allergies, colds, and even flus. Becoming sick in college is a huge pain and hassle, especially if it is challenging to pick up the essential illness fighting comfort foods and drinks. If your college student isn’t feeling well or you want to plan in advance, send them teas and soups to warm up their bodies and give their immune systems a boost. This package will bring an extra big smile to their face with a spooky Halloween theme!

4.   Nitty Gritty Grooming or Primp it Pretty


Who says that Fall care packages have to be just food? Send some luxury by picking a personal care package perfect for your child. The Nitty Gritty includes college favorite AXE body products along with a Schick razor and Colgate tooth care products. The Primp it Pretty will have the lady feeling fresh all day long with care products including Simple towelettes and Vaseline lotion to moisturize from the new chilly weather!

5.   Out of the Blue


Living in a dorm, far away from the comforts of home and family, isn’t the easiest place to be for some students. When you’re missing home, you can feel more alone than ever. Helping freshmen settle in can be done by surprising them with a gift that shows you care. The Out of the Blue nails it with favorites like pretzels and animal crackers.

6.   Love from Home Package Plan


The Fall doesn’t have to be the only reason why you send a care package. However, it can be hard to remember the holidays or the special events when our own busy lives come in the way. The Love from Home Package Plan automates the gifts (and thinking!) for you. Everything from Valentine’s Day to final exams comes into consideration and is delivered in a timely fashion. And with a way to personalize your message, you can give more than treats — you can give words of advice or support that may make all the difference.

Parent’s Corner: 8 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter College Parent


Sending your child off to college for the first time means facing the unknown. For the first time in their lives, you will have to deal with not being there to see if they are studying or taking care of themselves. And because of some additional restrictions, teachers and administrators may not even be allowed to talk to you about grades, progress, or other issues that may come up. Letting go of being a helicopter parent, especially if you were one during the high school years, takes a whole lot of patience, love, and trust. Here are eight ways to ensure you stay grounded.


1.   Establish Boundaries

Before your student heads off to school, discuss what level of your involvement you both feel is appropriate. Let them take the lead, and then follow their rules as best as possible. They should be the ones that cross the lines when they need you—not the other way around.

2.   Set Up a Communications Schedule

Another good item of discussion during the first semester is having a communication schedule. Calling, texting, or emailing too much can cause your student to pull away or want to connect less. Instead, make a plan to have a long talk on a Wednesday when they are halfway through the week, and not burnt out from classes. You’ll find the conversation will be more open and effective when there is a lot to discuss.

3.   Forget About Grades

In high school, the goal was to get the best grades so that your student could get into his or her dream school. Now, the endgame is to graduate with a job lined up. Sure, you want them to pass and have a sparkling GPA, but it is important to know straight A’s really don’t a difference on a resume.

4.   Focus on Yourself

The best distraction from focusing all your attention on your child is to focus on yourself. This is the perfect time to relax and enjoy the new kind of quiet. Go on a trip, book a spa date, take up a hobby, or even go back to school yourself!

5.   Avoid Surprises

It may be tempting to surprise your student at school. Don’t. Avoid doing this at all costs. While most students have grown out of the “my parents embarrass me” stage by the time college rolls around, being blindsided with a visit on campus can feel like a violation of trust or an inconvenience to their newly established lifestyles.

6.   Don’t Take It Personally

It may hurt to know that you’re no longer a part of their lives like you were in high school—but it’s not personal. Rather, it’s just the way your child grows. By constantly trying to be a part of their world or to take control of their actions, you are inadvertently stifling their development.

7.   Get to the Bottom of Your Anxiety or Worries

Oftentimes, helicopter parents put pressure on their children because of a subconscious desire to live through their children. Whatever your motivation, understand why you feel you need to be involved so you can address it. For example, if you want your child to have opportunities you never did, take this time to enroll in a graduate program or to pursue a dream you have always had.

8.   Celebrate Often

When a student discovers their new independence, almost anything could feel like a win. Praise them when they note they figured out how to use the laundry machines or compliment them on their dorm’s decor. When it comes to grades, celebrate passing, even if it isn’t the perfect expectation you may have.


Parent’s Corner: Gift Ideas for the Beginning of the Semester


Dropping off a child at their new college for the first time can leave you with a bunch of mixed emotions. They are on their own with a whole new world full of challenges and excitement ahead of them–it can be a bit daunting for both of you. When a few words of advice and good luck won’t do, here are a few gift ideas that will have them set for the beginning of the new semester and ultimately, their new life.


1.   A Good Luck Charm Jewelry or Accessory

A longstanding tradition for many families is to gift a meaningful piece of jewelry or accessory. This may include a pearl necklace, a watch, or a tie clip. Try to incorporate today’s trends by choosing a casual look with accessories. Look for something fun, like a necklace with a four-leaf clover, a bracelet with a fortune cookie charm, or even cuff links with their favorite symbol.

2.   New Backpack

Parents that are more practical can give their student the gift that keeps on giving: a new backpack. Book bags can look fashionable, while serving as a functional piece for the semester. Pick one that is more mature than their high school version and be sure it comes with compartments for their laptop and large textbooks.

3.   Portfolio and Pen

If your student is ready to take on interviews for internships or is enrolling in professional courses this semester, a monogramed portfolio and pen are classic choices. It’s giving them the next step up from a notebook and click pens. Enhance their collection to a luxurious leather bound portfolio and heavy weighted pen.

4.   School Spirit Gear

All students, no matter their grade, love to get new school spirit gear to proudly display. Outfit them with their new lucky jersey or a pre-test cup of coffee in a school color mug. If they enjoy vintage goods, hit the thrift shops for old pendants or class rings for them to display.

5.   Care Package

A great item to pack away without them knowing is a small care package for the first few days of school. Most likely, they will feel overwhelmed by the new classes or stress of meeting new friends. Ease them into the transition with gift cards to new restaurants, letters from family members, and some favorite treats from home.

6.   Empty Photo Album + Camera

An empty photo album may seem sad, but in reality, it’s a great way to encourage them to fill it with their new memories. Make it a tradition by giving them a new one each year or semester to document their adventures and accomplishments.

7.   Plane Ticket Home

For those traveling longer distance, the idea of not seeing home for a long period can be especially intimidating. Surprise them by having a plane ticket ready for a holiday break! It will give your student and yourself something to look forward to.

Gifting a college student a good luck charm or token can be a fun way to start the semester. For those going off to college for the first time or those leaving home, add extra meaning with a gift that not only says “good luck,” but also “we believe in you.”

Will you be sending a gift off to your student for their new semester? How do you plan on staying in contact and showing your love? Let us know!

Parent’s Corner: What to Do if Your Child is in Trouble


87809126Sending your child off to college is a momentous occasion. It’s often a testament to good parenting that your little one has now grown up and entered adulthood, and is now ready to “fly away from the nest.” Of course, even though your child has entered college, he or she still needs your help. Whether it’s an occasional fight with the roommate or intervening when an overwhelmed student gets a bit too stressed around finals, a parent’s guidance can be gratefully beneficial.

There are times, however, when problems escalate and the fear of suspension, probation, or even dismissal becomes a potential reality. If your child finds himself in a fight with the college or university, here are several action steps to take to address the situation.

Step 1: Identify the Actual Problem

The truth is most colleges will not speak to you regarding your child’s case as long as he or she is over the age of eighteen (this includes problems in regards to academic standings). This leaves many parents in the dark about what the situation is. And while some students may be eager to run to mom and dad for help, others may be too embarrassed, upset, or scared to discuss the problem.

It is important that when you fear your child is in trouble, you address them as you would a friend. Rather than judging or accusing, ask direct questions and then listen to his or her story. While it can be frustrating to hear that your child is in trouble, especially if it is in regard to something like alcohol or grades, a student is less likely to address the problem with a parent if he or she fears retribution, shame or parental punishment.

Step 2: Research the Problem

Depending on the problem, the student may or may not know what can be done to keep him or her on track and in school. For example, if the problem is academic, encourage the student to set up a time to talk to the academic dean or counselor. The solution may be as easy as repeating or dropping a class—or even changing his or her major.

If the problem is more complex or involves more immediate discipline, seek out the student handbook, which usually breaks down the expectations of the student and measures the school will take. For example, a student who is in trouble for underage drinking may have to face a peer panel or take alcohol courses. It is best to know if the student has a right to defend or can elect for a less severe punishment before any decisions are made.

Step 3: Understand the Consequences and Make a Plan

While you may not agree with the decision regarding your child’s punishment, it is important to remember probation or even suspension is not the end of your student’s academic career. When a student receives a verdict, it often comes with a list of requirements that must be completed for the student to be reinstated “in good standing.” This can range from attending tutoring, re-taking a failed class, performing community service, or taking a semester or two off.

Help your child get back on their feet by making an action plan. Set up alerts on their calendars, check in about academic or disciplinary meetings, and encourage students to change the situation that may have led to the issue in the first place (such as moving out of the dorms or changing majors). The more your child feels that you are encouraging progress rather than sticking to their past deeds, the more likely they will respond positively to your encouragement.

Step 4: Prioritize the Student’s Wellbeing

Once your student is back on the right path or has a clear vision of how to solve his or her trouble with the school, you may be tempted to back away. However, parents should sometimes consider becoming more proactive themselves by reevaluating the situation. One way to do this is to consider the “warning signs” that you may have missed.

The trouble with schooling may be the symptom of a greater issue. Is your child depressed or struggling with mental health? Struggling with drinking? Paralyzed by stress from college? All of these can result in academic problems. Work with your student to create a plan of action. After all, working with a therapist to overcome hurdles may be much more productive than enduring a lecture about the dangers of partying.

It is important to remember that this is your child’s responsibility to handle the situation as an adult. A parents’ best option is to provide support, assistance, and guidance to help your child navigate the issue. With your help, your student can be better prepared to face these challenges.

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Parents: Send Students Back with these Essentials!


As your college students’ winter break comes to an end, it’s time to prepare to send your sons and daughters back to school for another semester. While they’ve already gotten most of the essentials during their first semester away, there are still quite a few things your scholars may need before heading back to their homes away from home. Before you pack up the car and get en route to their school, make sure you’re not sending them back empty handed. Check out this list of spring semester essentials for your college student.

Rght-On-Track-Package✔Snack Stockpile
Your student doesn’t have the same snacking luxury at school as he or she has at home. With dining halls and campus cafes closing at certain hours, it’s important to keep your student stocked up with snacks for late night study sessions or quick breaks throughout their day. Put together a box or bin filled with their favorite snacks and treats. If you’re in a time pinch, look in our college care packages section and select the perfect basket to suit your child’s needs! However, keep the dreaded Freshman 15 in mind. Be sure to throw in some healthy options to balance out their sugary or salty snacks.

The saying “new year, new me” applies to more than just people.  Help give your college student’s room a fresh start in the new year with some improved dorm bedding. A set of new twin XL sheets or a fun new comforter gives your student’s room a refreshed beginning to start off the semester with. It also allows them to have another set of spare bedding to swap out with on laundry days.

BATH_BKT_PBLZ_LBL✔Shower Supplies
Another way to make sure your student gets a fresh start this semester is by ensuring they have new shower bathroom essentials to go back to school with. Load them up with family sized shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and any other products they use to send them back  to with a clean and new semester.


✔ Textbooks
Before your son or daughter goes back for another round of classes, make sure they have all the textbooks they need. Textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars apiece, racking up a hefty bill for your college student. Ask them what books they will be needing, and together, check multiple places to get the best prices. While their college bookstore is guaranteed to have the books they need, the rates may be significantly higher than other sources. Check websites like Chegg and Amazon for reduced rates. Plus, if you can, opt for textbook rentals instead of buying your own.

notepad calculator ruler pens pencil stapler✔ Notebooks, and Binders, and Pencils, Oh My!
Whether its elementary school, high school or college, your student still needs supplies to help them through their classes. Take your sons and daughters shopping before they head back and make sure they have everything to take good notes and stay organized this semester. Be sure to throw in a planner, highlighters and lots and lots of pens!


More importantly, you are sending your child back with lovely memories of the holiday season filled with family and friends! But make sure they are prepared for the upcoming semester. What will you be sending your student back with? Let us know in the comments!

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