30 “Must Haves” for Surviving College

A van trunk filled to the brim with college moving boxes.

Photo by kalleboo

Getting ready to pack and move off to college is incredibly exciting. And lets be real, you kind of start preparing to move out right after you graduate and get all those awesome presents at your party. You can find an endless number of packing lists online, some of my favorites are from Bed Bath and Beyond or Her Campus. But what are the random things that no one thinks of that are absolutely college must haves to survive?

Good news, I’ve compiled a list for you! So if you’re moving away from home to start your life as a college student, be sure to squeeze these items in the car.

1. An extra set of sheets

AmazonBasics microfiber sheet set. Click to view its Amazon page.One of the college must haves is an extra set of sheets. 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 plus in to a USB port.

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. I even had nights where there would be 5 of us hanging out in one dorm, each with our own large bowl of noodles. 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

COWIN E7 noise cancelling headphones. Click to view its Amazon page.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.

5. Cleaning Wipes

CLOROX disinfecting wipes in Crisp Lemon and Fresh Scent. Click to view its Amazon page.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. A Coffeemaker

Black and Decker coffeemaker with silver travel mug. Click to view its Amazon page.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. A big lamp

Taotronics dimmable color desk lamp. Click to view its Amazon page.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. Quarters

Many schools are switching to a credit/debit system for laundry, but some are still using quarters. However, it’s more likely that you’ll be searching for spare change at 3 a.m. because you really want that bag of Combos and a Coke from the vending machine down the hall.

9. A 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. A 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. A really long TV cable

Amazonbasics coaxial cable. Click to view its Amazon page.In 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. A 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.

14. An umbrella

Open black umbrella by Repel. Click to view its Amazon page.Yep–it rains. Don’t be the poor soul stuck in a downpour with your laptop in your not-waterproof backpack. Be cool. Carry an umbrella with you everywhere.

15. Twinkle lights and other decor

Red and blue globe string lights by GreenClick Battery. Click to view its Amazon page.Dorm rooms aren’t super stylish on their own, you have to make ’em homey. Pack a few posters, pictures, rope lights, twinkle lights, or whatever you like in your space.

16. Command hanging strips

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.

17. A 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. A 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. A 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. A water filter

Blue and white Brita small water filter pitcher. Click to view its Amazon page.If you’re like me, you’re super picky about what your water tastes like. If you’re moving away from home, whether it’s to a bigger city or even a different town, chances are the water is going to taste different than what you’re used to.

Solution: Either buy a filtration system or succumb to the fact that you’re going to be carrying cases of water up however many flights of stairs to your humble abode. Thus, another college must haves.

21. Flipflops for the shower

Black rubber Vertico shower flip flops. Click to view its Amazon page.Non-negotiable.

22. Storage bins and/or an ottoman

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.

23. Air Freshener Spray

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

24. An 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. Your calculator

Texas Instruments TI-36X Pro Engineering/Scientific calculator. Click to view its Amazon page.It might sound strange, but even history majors need a calculator for college. You’ll be taking at least one math and science class, so chances are you’ll need that fancy TI-84 to work some statistical magic.

26. A spare phone charger and battery

Black RAVPower portable external battery pack. Click to view its Amazon page.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!

27. A 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

Polaroid AA battery 24-Pack. Click to view its Amazon page.Pretty self-explanatory. Calculator. Book light. Fan. Remotes. It’s one of the college must haves.

29. A lapdesk

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 lapdesk 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 hamper

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!

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

  1. Avatar 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!

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