Essential (and Affordable!) College Gear

We listed some college gear that you need, but aren't too expensive.

Flickr user Colin Harris ADE

It’s definitely the time of the year to go shopping for college gear to take back to school. You will have a lot of shopping to do especially if you are a freshman. Having the right gadgets is important; it could mean the difference between a 3.0 GPA and a 4.0 GPA. Luckily for millennial shoppers, online stores are brimming with all sorts of college gear promising to make your school life easier.

It’s important to keep in mind not to let excitement get in the way of your purchases. Do you really need a $250 wireless charging reading lamp? Probably not. Here is a list of college gear that would actually help you survive campus life, and will cost less than $50:

Bedside Storage Caddy

Regardless of what you may be paying for your dorm room, you will have to cram all your things into several feet of livable space. You will need to be absolutely space-efficient to stay sane. One of the easiest ways to do this is to buy a bedside storage caddy with at least six pockets. Keep your textbooks, phone, music player, sleeping mask and anything else necessary in here to easily grab things and save space.

Car Charger for Phone

How often will you be using your phone while on campus? Most likely 24/7. Campuses are not like airports; you won’t find power outlets everywhere to charge your device. So, buy a car charger to power up your phone or music player easily on the go. It is not difficult to find a good car charger for less than $20. (Also, pro-tip: take phone and computer charger with you on campus, you never know when you can snag an outlet).

Smartphone Wallet Case

When you are scurrying around campus from class to cafeteria to lab carrying a stack of textbooks, you won’t have enough space for a purse or a wallet too. If your jeans pockets are already occupied by your smartphone, there won’t be extra space for your cards and cash. The solution is easy: get a smartphone wallet case. Most are slim, lightweight, and have plenty of space to carry credit cards, cash bills, coins, and even business cards.

Alarm Clock

University administrators aren’t always nice. Some are very cruel and love to schedule classes for 7 a.m. You will need all the help you can get to wake up this early for class. According to an education professor at Stanford, early morning classes have higher absenteeism rates, which can translate into low grades. So, keep your GPA up by buying one of these cheap but lifesaving alarm clocks. And if you have a smartphone, you can just use that as your alarm clock and save even more!

Compact Printer

Yes, your dorm building or the library may have printers you are allowed to use. But who wants to go to the library on the other side of campus at 3 a.m. before a presentation? What happens when the dorm assistant leaves for the day? You can have your printing needs taken care of right from your room by buying a cheap, compact inkjet printer.

Mini Coffee Maker

The smell of coffee will definitely make it easier for you to wake up in the morning. If you can get your coffee fix soon after waking up, you will definitely get more things done. Don’t be grumpy and lazy until you walk down to the cafeteria for your coffee. Keep a mini coffee maker in the dorm room to get your caffeine fix before early classes, exams, and tough assignments.

Multi-Power Outlet

It can be a challenge to find enough wall outlets for all the devices you need to charge. Once you have plugged in your laptop, smartphone, TV, music players and other gadgets, the power cords can also make a mess on the floor. Solve this particular problem by buying a multi-power outlet, like Quirky Power Hub, that can untangle wires and prevent your dorm room floor from becoming a major tripping hazard.

Drawer Organizers

Your desk drawers have great potential to become highly disorganized. When you are in the middle of an assignment, you probably don’t want to spend five minutes going through your drawer looking for a red pen or a flashcard. So, get your drawers plastic organizers right away to keep everything in place. Your sanity will thank you later.

Laptop Cooler

A good majority of your time in college will be spent using your laptop. They have a tendency to get overheated enough to cause burn injuries across legs. So, invest in buying a laptop cooler. The extra cooling provided can also make the hardware last longer.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

You will need peace and quiet to concentrate on those long study sessions. Let me tell you a secret: dorm rooms are unbelievably noisy. When you are trying to concentrate on Faulkner, your roommate will probably be on the phone and your dorm mates will probably be watching a football game. A good pair of headphones will allow you to manage through these cacophonous situations without losing your cool.

Laptop Lock

There are plenty of terrifying situations in college where an unattended laptop (with a thesis for finals) could easily disappear. The best remedy for such situations is a laptop lock. They provide security akin to a bicycle lock, another college essential. You can purchase a solid laptop lock for less than $10 at most retailers.

USB Flash Drives

Don’t rely on cloud storage to get access to files. When you are in the library or a classroom about to give a presentation, you won’t have time or access to log into your cloud drive. It’s also not safe to do over a possibly unsecured connection. So, buy a high-capacity flash drive to carry digital copies of your files with you wherever you go.

Don’t waste hundreds of dollars buying superficial things you most likely won’t be using after you have settled in. There’s plenty of college gear you can buy for cheap that will make your college life more convenient and free of common hassles. Refer to the list above and don’t hesitate to buy the items that you truly need.

Here’s another money-saving tip: Use College Raptor’s free match tool to discover personalized net price estimates and potential financial aid at colleges around the country!

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