Aug 282015
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This list of college essentials is a partnered post.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve run into a lot of college students and parents of soon-to-be college students running around different stores trying to gather up everything they need for school.  Though it’s been (ahem) a few years since I was in the shoes of a college student, it hasn’t been that long since we were getting Ashley ready for college.

College essentials every college student needs! If you're heading off to college for the first time or if you are parents of a soon-to-be college student, check out this list of must-haves!

If you’re heading off to college for the first time, or if you’re trying to figure out what your kids need, here are a few college essentials I think most every student will need.

College Essentials to Buy Ahead

Laptop & printer – A laptop or other similar device is needed now more than even a few years ago, in my opinion.  Not only will it be used for writing papers but most students use them right in class to take notes, too.  Having a personal printer is a huge help, too, though buying ink cartridges can get expensive.

Headphones – No matter how much you love (or don’t) your roommate, you’re not going to want to hear them all the time.  And let’s be honest: they’re probably don’t want to hear you listen to Shake It Off for the 30th time in a night.

Extra-long twin sheets – Each college’s “gear guide” will usually clarify this for you, but it might be something you glance over.  Most college mattresses require extra-long twin sheets which can be a little hard to find any other time of year.  Buy a few extra sets while there are lots to pick from.

Backpack – Invest in a quality backpack because you’re going to live with it on your body for the foreseeable future.  Comfy straps and lots of roomy storage are must-have features.  Many come with built-in laptop sleeves (a nice bonus) and some even have extra padding on the exterior of the backpack where it contacts your back.

External hard drive – While I don’t remember to do it as often as I know I should, saving important documents and backing up your computer to an external hard drive is important.  Losing all those awesome pictures from your spring break trip to Florida would be rough, but losing the final draft of a twenty page paper would be even worse.  Save, save, save – and then move it to the external hard drive to for extra security.

College Essentials to Buy at School

College essentials every college student needs! If you're heading off to college for the first time or if you are parents of a soon-to-be college student, check out this list of must-haves!

Some college essentials can wait until you get to where you’re going before purchasing.  I lived in Maine but attended college in Florida.  We drove (and shipped) a lot of stuff, but we also waited for a smaller shopping trip once we got down there.  Here are some things I think you’ll need, but that you don’t need to take up valuable box space.

Shower stuff – This includes a shower caddy, shower shoes (or flipflops), and all the stuff that goes in them.  Let’s expand this to say toiletries in general, too.  Unless you have a very specific brand you use that would be hard to find, just wait and stock up once you reach campus.

Wall hanging supplies – Wait until you see what surface you have to work with before you invest in any kind of wall hooks.  Some of the easiest tools to use are those peel-n-stick wall hooks that you later peel off (and keep the chance of damage down) but you could also use sticky-tac, thumb tacks or even tape.

Vacuum – This is another “wait and see” as to what type of flooring you have.  But once you know what’s on the floor pick up a hand-held vacuum, a stick vac, broom, etc.  You know, for cleaning up after study group (right?).

Laundry supplies – Buy a laundry bag or basket (depending on personal preference), add in your favorite laundry detergent and a few rolls of quarters and you’ll be set for your first few loads.  You can use the laundry basket as a clothes hamper, or if you really want, you can buy a separate one.

Small tool set – Over the course of the year you’re probably going to acquire more stuff.  You’ll realize you need another lamp, or an extra chair, and those things will need assembling.  Pick up a small portable tool set and you should be able to handle minor assembly (or minor repairs) on your own.

For more ideas on back-to-school or heading off to college visit Follett’s #FallBacktoSchool hub.

What are your college essentials?

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About Liza

Liza is a mom (5-year-old daughter, 20-year-old stepson, and 24-year-old stepdaughter) and wife living in Louisville. She loves spending time with her family, visiting the local zoo and parks, as well as planning travel adventures. Cooking and baking, DIY projects and crafts, and coffee - lots and lots of coffee - round out some of her other hobbies.

  11 Responses to “11 College Essentials Every Student Should Have This Year”

  1. Thanks for this I forgotten about the laundry bag. My son is off to university in a couple of weeks, I think it’s slightly different in the UK. For a start at his university all accommodation is self catering and no cooking equipment provided so he has to take all that stuff along too.

    • I’m glad it was helpful, Claire! I’m glad we didn’t have to take all our own cooking stuff, that would definitely have added to the list!

  2. I’m pinning this for future reference! Thanks for visiting Best of the Weekend!

  3. It’s so different…..I was just thinking that 20 years ago, I didn’t even have my own computer. Kids didn’t have laptops to take to college….you went to a computer lab to type up papers. LOL Things have changed!

    • It really has changed, Debra, you’re right. I didn’t take a computer with me freshmen year but once I saw how useful it would be, I definitely took one back with my sophomore year.

  4. This is so helpful. I needed a mini fridge, a microwave, and I needed tools too! To put together my bookcases.

  5. Great list. I was talking to a classmate the other day that says he wishes he hadn’t waited till last minute to buy his laptop. Then he may have been able to buy one he wanted.

  6. I never thought of a tool kit for kids going away to college, it’s a good idea. My must-have list back when I was in college included a coffee machine. Also, an alarm clock if you have a favorite type.

  7. Have to add USB drives to that list. External drives are great, but sometimes you need something more portable.

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