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10 Things Every College Student Should Have

Updated on December 18, 2011

There are some things you just can’t go without. Sometimes, you find yourself wishing for things you never thought you would miss. As a current college student, I have to say that there are a few things I could not survive without. Okay, maybe that's a little over-dramatic, but in the end, there are a few things in my room that make my college life easier and more comfortable.

As the title promises, I have a list of 10 items every college student should have, regardless of age and / or gender. Some of them you may have already thought of, but maybe there are a few that slipped your mind. Read on to see if there's anything you want to add to your checklist.

1 - Toolkit

This is first on my list. I can’t even count the times I have used my toolkit for a personal project, let alone whipped it out to help a friend. My toolkit has hung pictures, assembled bicycles, built shelves, opened boxes, dealt with troublesome light bulbs that just did not want to come out of the socket, measured distances, etc. Now, this does not necessarily have to be the most expensive toolkit on the market. I wish I could say how much mine cost, but it was a gift from family friends and I do not know the price. What I can tell you is that the screwdriver, hammer, wrench, box cutter, pliers and measuring tape have all come in handy. Several times. This year alone. And the semester only just started in September.

2 - Needles and Thread

I admit it: I never thought I'd need this. I was wrong. I've had buttons fall off thanks to age (and poor manufacturing in the case of a coat), and I had to borrow a friend's needle and thread to fix the clothes. For those favorite clothes that suddenly rip, a quick patch job can save them from the garbage can. I have a few female friends who have sewing kits. I have plenty of male friends who have sewing kits. They're all glad they have them.

3 - Rainboots / Galoshes

I don’t care where the school is. You're going to need these. I myself made the mistake of heading to college without a pair of boots. I’d dealt with rain my whole life and figured I would be able to cope with it at school. I was wrong. Apparently, socks get 20 times wetter when one is walking across a campus during a downpour. When the shortest path between two points happens to be a rain-soaked, muddy field, you either go around and spend more time in the rain, or risk the field and soak your shoes. And even if you go around, you’re still probably going to soak your shoes. Puddles can be very deceiving, and one that looks shallow might swallow a sneaker without any trouble. The feeling that follows is not pleasant. Especially when you realize that you do not have time to go back to your dorm and, at the very least, change your socks. It probably goes without saying, but the first chance I got, I bought myself a pair of waterproof boots. Several friends of mine who were in a similar waterlogged situation found themselves galoshes. Those who decided not to wear boots solved their wet sock problem by wearing flip-flops and allowing their feet to dry as they would. Of course, when you’re in the Northeast, flip-flops are not going to cut it when winter rolls around. A buddy of mine found that out the hypothermic hard way. He owns boots now, too.

4 - Surge Protector

Power outages are fairly uncommon, but odds are they will happen at least once a year. Reasons for them will vary, but in the end, you're still getting a power surge. This can be harmful to some electronic devices. Computers are the first to come to mind, and even though most college students own laptops, these machines still need to be plugged in at some point. Same with cell phones, mp3 players, and whatever else that needs charging. Having a surge protector can offer more protection. As an added bonus, surge protectors add a few more sockets that can be used for plugging in more devices, thus saving a frustrating hunt for the elusive wall socket positioned behind the bed. Moral of the story: get a surge protector, or fight the dust-bunnies for the right to plug something in.

5 - Rug(s)

Dorm rooms usually do not have carpeted floors. And in the morning, these floors can get cold. Which is unpleasant. To save your feet, buy a small rug or two. I’ve seen a variety of rugs at school, ranging from large ones that cover most of the floor to small ones that sit next to a bed. I myself have a narrow, longish rug and a smaller one. I put the long rug on the floor next to the bed and in the morning, I can put my bare feet on it and not worry about cold feet. The smaller one sits in front of a dresser and does a similar job of keeping my feet off the ground while I pull out the day's clothes.

6 - Vacuum / Broom

Rooms do not like to stay clean. As much as anyone hates to admit it, floors need some form of maintenance every once in a while. For me, that means grabbing a Swiffer and having at it. The rugs get a special treatment with the small vacuum my parents unearthed from the basement. It happens to be bright yellow, and last year, my roommate and I fondly dubbed it “Old Yeller”. I’m happy to say that the vacuum has proved to be a hearty, faithful little thing and has so far (movie spoiler alert) escaped the need to be put down. The vacuum is a bit of a bulky thing and takes up a lot of room when being transported to and from school, but it's worth the trouble. And the Swiffer is definitely worth the price of both the broom itself and the necessary refill patches (they only give you 2 when you buy the broom). It's nice to have clean floors.

7 - Full-Length Mirror

This one may seem a bit unnecessary, and might be depending on the college-goer. But I still recommend getting one. The mirror is definitely one of the things you don't think you'll want at first, but eventually, you'll realize that it's nice to be able to see what you look like before heading out for the day, especially when you don’t have to walk to the bathroom to do it. I really like having a full-length mirror on my wall, as does my roommate.

8 - Whiteboard and Markers

Some people I know like to have these on their doors. Friends walk by and write notes on them, ranging anywhere from “I found your sweatshirt” to “<3!” They’re pretty useful for communicating. Of course, you’ll want a tiny one for the outside of a door. If the whiteboard is going inside the room, that’s another story. I have a whiteboard / bulletin board combo. It’s a nifty little thing, and I bought it pretty cheap at the local Bed Bath & Beyond. I use mine to write down things I should not be forgetting. Like when papers are due. Or appointments I have to keep. Or who owes me money after a group dinner in town. Things like that. The bulletin board gets put to similar use. I usually pin assignments, notes, and tickets to it, then grab them when I need them. Saves me from a life of disorder. Highly recommended.

9 - Fan

Sometimes, college dorms don’t have air-conditioning. Sometimes they do, but decide to switch it off during the winter. And then they don’t turn it on in the late spring unless the outside temperature hovers in the low 80s for three days in a row. "Why?" is a question without an answer, but when the temperature climbs into the upper reaches of the thermometer and the world gets hot and sticky, it’s nice to have a continuous flow of air in the room. This could be obtained by opening a window, but if there are no screens, bugs very quickly become a problem. Plus, windows don’t do much good if there’s no breeze to begin with. This is where the fan comes in. There’s nothing better than walking into your room on a hot day, hitting one button, and enjoying a cooling flow of air. And when deadlines come knocking on the door, fans makes concentrating a lot easier. Trust me, writing a paper on a hot, sweaty day without any relief can make for a pretty terrible end result.

10 - Basic First Aid Kit

This does not have to be the most sophisticated thing in the world. There is no need to show up with a med kit that would make most surgeons green with envy. And there’s no need to actually hunt down a first aid kit. My “first aid kit” consists of a few Band-Aids and some Neosporin. That’s all I need for shallow injuries like an accidental slip of a small pair of scissors, paper cuts, scrapes, or anything else like that. Someone who is actually trained to handle injuries should probably handle any wounds that require more bandaging and / or disinfectant than can fit in a small plastic bag.


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    • krissalus profile image

      krissalus 5 years ago

      I would agree that it does depend on the situation. It's been about two years since I made this list, and I've actually continued to use everything on it, but I could see certain things not being needed for everyone. That being said, I'd still consider the Swiffer / broom to be one of the better investments. You're right, floors do get pretty nasty! My tool kit tends to get more action on move in / move out day than any other time, but parts of it, like the measuring tape, often get used throughout the year. I think the highlight of its career was building the bike sophomore year, but it's been the hero of the day when it comes to hanging pictures on the walls.

      Thanks for your comment! :)

    • tsueblanton profile image

      tsueblanton 5 years ago from Philadelphia

      I have to admit as a three-year dorm dweller, I did use most of the items on this list. I took the full length mirror with me, but after a few months, it found its way to the back of the closet. I just never used it. I never owned a single pair of rain boots, just regular knee-high boots, which I wore all winter. I'd probably consider them an extra expense. I definitely used a fan, first aid kit, broom and a Swiffer Wet Jet. With roommates, floors tend to get nasty, especially if your roommates are lazy and don't clean their spills off the floor. It was a very popular item in my dorm. Never used a tool kit once. I guess it just depends on the situation!

    • krissalus profile image

      krissalus 5 years ago

      Thanks for the comment, ElleBee!!

      Surge protectors are the greatest things ever. I've lived in a dorm, a program house, and an apartment now, and I've always used a surge protector for extra outlets.

      I'm always jealous when someone says they've had carpet in their dorms. We've had carpeted hallways, but they pretty much left it up to us to cover the floors in our own rooms. I've grown very fond of rugs over the past couple of years haha :)

    • profile image

      ElleBee 5 years ago

      I had most of these items when I was in college, but not all. Don't think I ever brought a tool kit with me, and I know I never had a needle and thread. But I would have been useless without my surge protector! There are not enough outlets in the dorms, and that one is definitely necessary. Rainboots were definitely a big one too - at least if you go to school in an area with a lot of rain, they definitely were a big help for me many a time. And luckily almost all of the rooms on my campus had carpets!

    • krissalus profile image

      krissalus 5 years ago

      Glad to hear it, Guss :)

    • profile image

      guss 5 years ago

      awesome! Going to college next semester and this is helping a lot thanks!!!

    • krissalus profile image

      krissalus 6 years ago

      It's so great not having wet socks anymore, isn't it? And being able to see past your waist. Gotta love the mirrors!

      Thanks for the comment :)

    • THEHuG5 profile image

      THEHuG5 6 years ago

      This list is excellent! I too went off to school without rainboots and quickly realized that they were a total MUST HAVE. I never thought I would ever need rainboots either. The full length mirror is a must too. I spent the first semester of freshman year not knowing what my bottom half looked like because all we have in my dorm is a small bathroom mirror. It's amazing that I survived that...