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What you REALLY need for college

Updated on July 27, 2013

As July comes to its end next week, a new school year is approaching. However, for some of you, it's a completely new life to explore, and I'm not talking about crayons in the nose or locker to shove books and coats in. I'm talking about college. I remember, not too long ago being fine the summer before my freshman year of college but then becoming absolutely terrified at the stroke of August. There was so much to do, even before I got there. Being the oldest I was a bit lost as to what I really needed.

There are many scenarios when it comes to the college experience such as the size of the school, and your room, how many roommates you'll have, and how far you have to go.

If you have to fly, I'd strongly recommend buying as much as possible in your school's town or even shipping things over. I don't have personal experience with this but I know people who fly back and forth and that is what they do.

Bedding and Bathroom

Where you get your bedding and bathroom stuff is completely up to you. My school, as well as others, uses a residential linens company and the deal was pretty good. Check with your school though. Most schools have extra long beds and most stores carry bedding in that size even if your school says they don't.

Target has great deals on towels, hand-towels, and washcloths.You should check them out for a lot of their college supplies. They have great hampers and they're really big. I didn't really check out Walmart. Wherever you go make sure you get a foam topper for your mattress. I barely lasted one night without one.

Ideally, you should have two sets of sheets. It makes things a lot easier although, fair warning, it might create laziness.

Don't overpack too much though. You only really need two bath towels. I have four and it's really just a waste.

Get an appropriately sized shower-caddy. Mine is, still, way too small; I skimped out too much. However, I see girls go into the bathroom with caddy's you can probably fit 20 bottles of shampoo in.

I'm not sure about what guys bring into the bathroom. Most of them don't use a shower caddy so I don't want to embarrass any guys so I would ask around for that one.

You won't need much more than you would expect such as the shampoo, deodorant, razors, and so on. As a freshman, you probably don't need toilet paper or a shower curtain but if you're in a suite, I would check. Get as much knowledge as you can. Some colleges post pictures of their dorms.


Electronics are a a big one. They're expensive and some of them as unnecessary.

Alarm clock- Definitely get an alarm clock. I have an ihome which is great because it's a great stereo as well and charges my ipod. I've never intentionally missed a class, aka, sleeping in. Most of my roommates have had an alarm clock so don't feel as if you'll be a nuisance. Waking up to someone else's alarm clock is just part of the experience, so prepare yourselves.

Computer- You're going to want a computer. Most classes require one and you'll spend every waking moment in the library if you don't have your own. If your going in for a new computer, I'd side with the laptop. They're beneficial for many reasons. Some professors allow you to bring them and the occasional class will require them, all depending on the professor and university itself. You're going to need Microsoft Office as well and if your broke, you can check out Open Office.

Printer- This one I say would be more of a recommended purchase. Libraries aren't always open and you might have snow to trek through or maybe your running out of time to get to class to turn a paper in. Printers really aren't that expensive and it'll probably pay off even with the ink and paper. Some colleges charge for printing and even more if you need color.


This is probably the most important piece of packing. You probably have a lot of clothes. Make decisions about what clothing you actually wear. Chances are if there is hesitation in that question, you won't wear it at school. Don't bring that; it'll just take up more space in the car.

If this is an option for you, switch clothes in and out for the weather as the seasons change. You might not have enough room for it anyway in your cramped dorm room. I switch clothing out during Winter and Spring breaks.

Bring a lot of underwear! You can hold off on laundry until you are out of underwear! Bring workout clothes if you know you'll be doing that a lot. If you aren't sure, college might be the perfect time to get in shape. You'll most likely have a free gym within walking distance.

Bring a few nicer outfits. You never know when you'll need to look professional.

Kitchen Appliances

The microwave and refrigerator is something you'll need to collaborate with your roommates on. Meal plans are different at each school. You'll need to take your diet and eating habits into consideration as well as how much room you'll have. Don't forget about how much space they take up in the car.

You'll probably have size restrictions and safety restrictions. Hot plates and most small appliances aren't even allowed. Coffee pots are usually okay as long as they turn off on their own.

So much stuff

So there are so many things you should buy, might buy, etc. There are so many exceptions as well. Your school might already have a list for you on the website, and that is great.

I've noticed Bed Bath & Beyond also has connections with schools so if you go onto their website and go to their college section, you'll find that you can look up schools. I'm not sure of the selection they have but each school has sent BB&B a list that is more catered to that school.

Tips for packing

I made a mistake my first year. I had a ton of plastic Sterilite boxes that took up much more room than necessary. Don't get me wrong they are great, but don't over-do it. Try to pack things in bags that can get a little squished in the back.

A great product to try is space saver bags, especially for your bedding. The jumbo cube bags are great for bedding. You'd be surprised how much fits in those. Then, for your clothes you can use the flat bags.

Pack lightly- You're not going away forever, probably. Only pack what you need and be smart about things.

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    • Kevina Oyatedor profile image

      kevina oyatedor 4 years ago

      i took hangers when i went to campus my fresman year. i didn't bring a lot of shoes but most of my clothes a towel and a robe. this was an awesome article.

    • aparkhurst7 profile image

      aparkhurst7 4 years ago from Wilkes Barre, PA West Hartford, CT

      Thanks for reading!

    • gtownson1 profile image

      Graham Townson 4 years ago from Celina, TX

      Very informative!