WHEN MY niece Liz went off to college at the University of Virginia last fall, her first correspondence home was not, ''Send Money!'' but rather, ''Send cookies!'' The dorm food was lousy, she complained, and she needed help from home fast. Off went a shipment of chocolate cip cookies to sustain her during those first late nights at the study table.

Though just about any parcel of edibles from home will be received happily, cookies sent away to college should meet a couple of basic requirements. So that your hungry student will not have to offer her new suitemates a tinful of homemade crumbs, mail-away cookies should be relatively unbreakable. Crisp sugar cookies, crumbly shortbread or delicate brown-edge wafers are better kept at home. The best travelers are sturdy drop cookies (such as chocolate chip) or chewy bar cookies (such as applesauce-raisin).

The cookies also should be as nutritious as a sweet can be. Substitute whole wheat flour for white when feasible. Whole wheat may not be refined enough for a simple, rich butter cookie, but tastes good in a hefty oatmeal bar with raisins and walnuts. Add a few tablespoons of peanut butter and/or wheat germ to the dough; both complement many cookie ingredients. Use molasses and honey as sweeteners. Fresh fruits and juices, such as chopped apple, mashed banana, orange and lemon juice, plus dried fruits (dates, figs, apricots, prunes and old reliable raisins) are naturally sweet and healthy, flavorful additions to many cookies. As a bonus, they'll help keep the cookies moist in transit.

If you're really worried that your faraway freshman may not be getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals, send some vegetable cookies. Grated raw or cooked mashed carrots, and cooked sweet potato, pumpkin and squash are surprisingly good blended into sweet cookie dough.

Before mailing, cookies should be cooled completely on a rack, then wrapped carefully and packed. Veteran cookie shippers disagree on the best procedure. Those with the least confidence in a "fragile" stamp on the outside of the package advocate this method: Wrap each cookie or bar in plastic wrap or foil individually, or in pairs, bottom to bottom. Place wrapped cookies in a tin or box lined with foil; fill any air space with crushed soft paper or paper toweling. Place the tin or cookie box inside a slightly larger and very sturdy box. Fill the space around the cookie box with cushiony packing material -- plastic bubble sheets or Styrofoam nuggets (saved from a professionally wrapped package), wadded sheets of the hometown newspaper (which can be read while the cookies are eaten) or even forgotten items of clothing. Last fall, one mother packed her first shipment of cookies in a box filled with left-behind sweaters, jeans and sweat socks. (Popcorn is also reputed to be good packing material but has the built-in drawback of having to be popped.)

Other cookie shippers say the box-within-a-box procedure is too much trouble. Some suggest simply putting a little packing material on the bottom of a sturdy box (sweat socks may not work well here), placing unwrapped cookies in a single layer on a sheet of foil, then adding two or three more layers of cookies and foil. (The top layer of foil should be ample enough to tuck securely around the lower cookie layers.) Fill air space with packing material and seal the box tightly. This procedure works best with fairly moist, soft cookies.

One shipper of home-baked cookies uses crisscross cardboard dividers inside a packing box. The cookies (small drop-type do best) go into sandwich bags, six or seven at a time; the bags then fit snugly into the compartments of the divider, which tends to cushion bumps and blows.

After the package is wrapped, tie with twine, then write name and address plus the words FRAGILE -- HANDLE WITH CARE and PERISHABLE on the package in extra-heavy non-smear ink. Mail promptly, using first-class service unless the cost is prohibitive.

The following recipes were created especially for cookies that will stay fresh during the three to four (or more) days they will be in the mail, to withstand postal jostlings and to nourish energetic college students. The fudgy almond brownies, made with whole wheat flour, plus the banana-pecan, carrot-raisin and apple cobbler (a variation of the basic oatmeal) cookies are all particularly moist, and should be wrapped individually rather than in pairs. To store any kept at home, place in a container in layers separated by foil or plastic wrap, or cookies may stick together. (Cookies taste good straight out of the freezer as well as at room temperature.) The peanut butter-chocolate chippers may be wrapped for mailing by twos or threes.

ALMOND BROWNIES (Makes 16 brownies)

1/3 cup butter or margarine

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2 eggs

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup unbleached white flour

Pinch salt

1/2 to 3/4 cup whole almonds, toasted and chopped

Melt butter and chocolate in top of double boiler. Stir until smooth; let cool.

In a medium-size bowl, beat eggs, sugar, honey and almond extract together. Add cooled chocolate mixture and blend well. Stir in flours, salt and almonds, reserving a few tablespoons of the nuts. Mix well.

Spread batter evenly in greased 8-by-8-by-2-inch pan; sprinkle with reserved almonds; bake for 25 to 30 minutes in 350-degree oven. Do not overcook; top should feel just barely firm. Set pan on a rack and let cool completely before cutting into 2-by-2-inch squares.

NOTE: To toast almonds, spread on cookie sheet and place in 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Stir occasionally.

CARROT-RAISIN COOKIES (Makes about 5 1/2 dozen)

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons molasses

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup finely grated raw carrots (2 to 3 medium carrots)

3/4 cup raisins

In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla; blend well. In another bowl, mix flour, wheat germ, baking powder, salt and spices. Add to butter-sugar mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in carrots and raisins and blend.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 to 15 minutes.

BANANA--PECAN COOKIES (Makes about 5 dozen)

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large ripe banana, mashed

1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup chopped pecans

In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add peanut butter, egg and vanilla; blend well. Add mashed banana and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and pecans. Add to butter-sugar mixture, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes.

APPLE COBBLER COOKIES (Makes about 6 1/2 dozen)

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups uncooked oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 small unpeeled apples, cored and chopped

In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add egg and vanilla, blend well. In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda; mix well. Stir in apples.

Add dry ingredients, a little at a time, to creamed mixture, stirring well after each addition. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes.

PEANUT BUTTER-CHOCOLATE CHIPPERS (Makes about 5 dozen)

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bits

In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add egg, vanilla and peanut butter and blend well.

In a separate bowl, mix flours, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir in semi-sweet bits. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.