30 “Must Haves” for Surviving College

At no extra cost to you, College Raptor may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more

Red van loaded with packed boxes for freshman move-in day.

Flickr user Mike Mahaffie

Getting ready to pack and move off to college is incredibly exciting. You can find an endless number of packing lists online, including these from Bed Bath and Beyond or Her Campus. But we’ve compiled a list of miscellaneous items that will make your first year of college much easier. Consider buying these the following items survive!


30 College Must Haves

1. extra set of Bedsheets

AmazonBasics microfiber sheet set. Click to view its Amazon page.One of the college must haves is an extra set of sheets. Why? You never know when someone is going to show up and want to stay the night. An extra set of sheets just might save your futon (or save your guests from your well-loved futon). And there’s always a chance that you might spill your SpaghettiOs while doing homework in bed–no one wants to do late-night laundry when they’re tired.

2. A fan…or 4

Holmes 8 inch fan. Click to view its Amazon page.Very rarely will you have temperature control in your dorm. You aren’t granted the power to turn the furnace or AC on/off. Depending on where you go to college, a fan could potentially save your life. In fact, I’d recommend two. One of those big oscillating or box ones, and then one you can clip to your bed or desk. They even make fancy desk fans you can plug into a USB port. Bonus benefit: they are great for making white noise!

3. At least one big microwaveable bowl

Sweese porcelain fluted bowl set. Click to view its Amazon page.What you’ve heard is true–college kids eat a lot of Ramen and soup. Sure, you can always eat in a dining hall on campus but having a meal option in your room is also nice. Thus, another college must have is at least one large microwaveable bowl.

Fun fact: You can also make macaroni and cheese in the microwave, but make sure you sneak some milk from the cafeteria if that’s the plan.

4. Noise-canceling headphones

These are 100% a necessity. You’ll need them for studying in the library, coffee shops, dorm rooms, and bus rides. Invest in a good pair and take care of them. You can use them for de-stressing, meditating, jamming out on the way to class, or lullabies at bedtime. Sometimes you just need to block out the craziness of the world.

Invest in a good pair and take care of them. You can use them for de-stressing, meditating, jamming out on the way to class, or lullabies at bedtime. Sometimes you just need to block out the craziness of the world.

5. Cleaning Wipes

Clorox wipes are my go-to for just about everything. You can clean your laptop keyboard, desk, doorknob, or that mystery spill on the floor. They’re quick, easy, and come in giant tubs that last forever. Definitely one of the college must haves.

6. Coffeemaker

Caffeine is a gift from above. Whether you have morning classes or late-night study sessions, it can be a huge help to have a personal coffeemaker in your dorm room.

7. Desk lamps

Dorm rooms are notorious for having terrible lighting. If you want to save your eyes, make sure you get a lamp for your room.

8. Shower Caddy

Many dorms involve sharing a bathroom, whether it is with your roommates or with your floor or building. Therefore, having a shower caddy makes it quick and easy for you to transport and store all of your bath items. Just make sure you get a big enough caddy to fit everything! You’ll likely need it to hold face soap, body wash, shaving cream, razors, shampoo, wash rags, and maybe even your bath towel. 

9. mini toolkit

Apollo general repair hand tool set. Click to view its Amazon page. A quick way to make friends is to have a toolkit. You never know when you’re going to need a screwdriver–and that cute co-ed down the hall might need help assembling something.

10. surplus of school and office supplies

And by surplus, I mean piles. We’re talking pens, pencils, highlighters, those fancy little tabs to stick on textbook pages, a 3-hole puncher, a regular-size stapler and a mini one to throw in your backpack, paper, notebooks, binders, dividers, report covers, etc.

11. Extra long TV cable

Mediabridge TV cableIn my experience, the cable hookup is always in the least convenient location. It’s never the logical place that one might put a TV. Save yourself the frustration, and just bring a long cable.

12. cozy, colorful rug

Superior area rug with polka dot design. Click to view its Amazon page.Your dorm will either have nice drab, tan tile, or 20 year old carpet covered in questionable stains. Bring an area rug that suits you and your roommate’s style. It will instantly transform your small, boring dorm room, into your home.

13. Trash liners

Simplehuman white drawstring trashbag. Click to view its Amazon page.You’ll be amazed how much trash you accumulate in a short amount of time, so you’ll need plenty of liners for when you need to haul it down to the dumpster. Money saving tip: save your grocery bags and use them for trash when possible!

14. First Aid Kit

Unfortunately, accidents happen. Keeping a small first aid kit in your room can be your best friend when you have a small emergency. Many kits will include helpful items such as stain remover, cough drops, band aids, nail clippers, antibiotic ointment, and more.

15. Mattress Topper

Dorm rooms don’t always come with the most comfortable mattresses. Using a mattress pad or a mattress topper can help you sleep a little better by adding an extra layer of comfort. 

16. Command hanging strips and hooks

Command mounting strips multi-pack. Click to view its Amazon page.These are a life saver. You can’t pound a nail into a brick or cinder block wall very well–nor are you supposed to. Use the strips for your posters and decorations. And use the hooks for easy hat and jewelry storage.

17. pile of pillows and blankets

Two white Beckham Hotel Collection pillows. Click to view its Amazon page.You never know when unexpected guests will arrive, or when friends decide to crash during an all-nighter. If you like to study on the floor or in your bed, a few extra pillows and blankets will come in handy.

18. big calendar (desk or wall) in addition to your planner

2019-2020 Nekmit monthly wall academic year calendar. Click to view its Amazon page.Use a big calendar to map out when big projects and papers are due. If you can see that everyday, and continually update your planner, you’re less likely to forget that something important is coming up. A calendar to go along with your planner is one of the college must haves.

19. backpack

Blue Modoker vintage laptop backpack. Click to view the Amazon page.Accept it now, you’re basically going to be living out of your backpack for 4 years. The more pockets, the merrier. A pocket for snacks, a pocket for homework, a pocket for electronic things, a pocket for pencils, you get the point. Get a good, sturdy bag, it’s going to be carrying some hefty textbooks.

20. Reusable Water Bottle

With all the walking and socializing you are likely to be doing in college, staying hydrated is an important part of each day. Carrying a reusable water bottle will not only help you save the planet by reducing your use of plastic, but it will also save you from having to take out extra bags of trash each week.

21. Flipflops for the shower

Non-negotiable. Foot fungus is gross. Don’t spread it and don’t get it. Just wear flip flops.

22. Storage Options

AmazonBasics grid wire storage shelves. Click to view its Amazon page.Your space won’t be huge, but you’ll have a lot of random stuff lying around. Make cleaning up quick and easy by tossing it into a cloth or canvas storage bin. Ottomans are also nice to have around if you get a sturdy one it can even be used for extra seating. Many college students choose to use bed risers that make under bed storage a good option.

23. Air Freshener Spray

3 Citrus Magic orange-scented air freshener cans. Click to view the Amazon page.Small space, big smells.

24. ethernet cable

Coiled white Cat 6 ethernet cable with clips. Click to view the Amazon Page.An ethernet cable is one of the college must haves. Wi-Fi s a great thing–just not in dorms. It’s pretty typical for every student to be using the wi-fi on multiple devices at the same time, which slows it down drastically. Plugging into an ethernet cable will usually keep you running faster, making homework and getting that project turned in at the last minute more doable.

25.Mini Fridge

While some dorm rooms may come with a full kitchen, others may have nothing. Of course you’ll have plenty of places to eat on and around campus, but sometimes you might want a few snacks and drinks in your room. Add a mini fridge for your cold items and a microwave for some quick easy meals you can enjoy in your dorm room. 

26. spare phone chargers and battery

Keep a spare phone charger in your backpack, especially if you’re on your phone 24/7. You can plug-in in the library, in class, or while you’re grabbing a bite to eat. Then by the time you’re ready to move on to the next place you’ll be fully charged! You might also consider getting an extra-long charger to make your phone more accessible to different outlets.

27. flashlight and/or booklight

Black GLAREE keychain flashlight. Click to view its Amazon page.If you have a roomie, chances are pretty good that your sleeping habits won’t be exactly the same. On nights that you aren’t feeling the library and would rather study in your room, you’re going to need a book light. Don’t be that person who demands to have the overhead light on while your roommate is trying to get their beauty rest.

28. AA and AAA batteries

Energizer combo battery packPretty self-explanatory. Calculator. Book light. Fan. Remotes. It’s one of the college must haves.

29. lap desk

Sofia and Sam wood-design lapdesk with laptop and mouse resting on it. Click to view its Amazon page.Greatest invention ever. I just invested in a nice lap desk that cost a whopping $11. It has a cup holder and everything. Really though, you need to let your laptop breathe, put it on a flat surface instead of your lap.

30. Laundry Basket

Blue DOKEHOM laundry basket with handles and color varations. Click to view its Amazon page.All that dirty laundry has to go somewhere. Instead of tossing stuff on the floor or the end of your bed, get yourself a hamper.

Have something that didn’t make the list that you wouldn’t have survived college without? Let us know in the comments!

One thought on “30 “Must Haves” for Surviving College”

  1. Jinger Ertel says:

    Mini fridge! Even if you just use it for drinks, you need one! Also under bed storage. You won’t have a lot of space if you share a room!

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.