must have college guide header

photo via amazon (CC-BY)

Because there are too many other things you'll wish you'd learned earlier.

Starting college is really exciting-- especially when you’re going away to school. 

On top of the usual back-to-school shopping, there’s a ton of fun stuff to add to the list: bedding, posters, storage, cleaning supplies, towels, etc. With a list that long how are first-year students supposed to know what they actually need?

Many colleges and universities suggest bringing no more than what you can fit into one car for your first year of school. If that’s the case, what do you ditch? 

The must-have list on the other hand is pretty versatile, so hopefully this guide will help clear up the confusion for college new-comers.

1) Invest in a foam mattress topper.

Amazon

Sleeping on a university-provided mattress is the equivalent to sleeping on a rock. No wonder Rory Gilmore's grandparents insisted she bring her own. They’re extremely uncomfortable and with the little sleep you’ll get, it’s important to wake up feeling refreshed and not like someone took a jackhammer to your back.

Price on Amazon: $49.29

Buy it here

2) Stock up on some storage bins.

Amazon

Depending on the school, dorm rooms can vary in size and storage space. That’s why storage crates are crucial, they’ll keep your stuff organized and easy to reach. And as a bonus, they even make the moving process easier.

Price on Amazon: $38.84 for a 4-pack

Buy it here

3) Desk organizing kits will help you stay focused.

Amazon

With two or more people living in a dorm room the size of your current bedroom (or smaller), it’s going to get cluttered really fast. You’re not going to know where you left your syllabus unless you have a tray for loose papers and other gizmos to keep your desk clear.

Price on Amazon: $17.87

Buy it here

4) Body pillows will help you sleep at night.

Amazon

If you’re one to toss and turn in your sleep, buying a body pillow could be the best decision you ever make. Rolling into a wall every night is no fun and the bruises that come from it are even less appealing.

Price on Amazon: $11.99

Buy it here

5) Antibacterial wipes are your new best friend.

Amazon

Though the dorms are cleaned at the end of every semester, that’s probably the only time they get a good scrub. So make sure to wipe everything down before you move your stuff in. Lysol will come in handy all year, too. Spilled beer can get sticky, but it’s no match for these babies.

Price on Amazon: $26.95 for a 6-pack

Buy it here

6) Room fresheners will keep you sane.

Amazon

There is absolutely nothing worse than living in a tiny room that smells like B.O., old food, stale alcohol, dirty laundry, or a combination of the four. Think about it, you’re going to spend most of your time at school in your dorm, wouldn’t you at least like to be able to breathe without having to cringe?

Price on Amazon: $17.77 for a 12-pack

Buy it here

7) Add some sparkle and shine with a set of string lights.

Amazon

String lights, on a must-have list? Duh! For the most part, dorms have horrible lighting. The older the building, the darker the lighting. String lights quickly brighten your room and add some flare. They even come in handy for the courteous, early riser who doesn’t want to wake up their roommate.

Price on Amazon: $12.34

Buy it here

8) Keep  yourself on schedule with a whiteboard.

Amazon

When you think of college, you probably imagine a killer party with some kegs, Jell-O shots, and blaring music. And while many students do use partying as a means of blowing off steam at the end of the week, it’s not the reason you’re attending the university. Some people forget that until they’re put on academic probation midway through their first semester. But like all great things in life, party in moderation. Teach yourself how to balance school work with fun times by keeping track of due dates and test days on a whiteboard you can easily hang up.

Price on Amazon: $13.72

Buy it here

9) Decorate with ease (and without damage) by using these Command hooks.

Amazon

Customizing your room with personal belongings, photos and posters is easily the most exciting part of moving into a dorm. But unless you want to rack up major damage charges, these easily removable Command hooks are all you need. They come in different sizes and weight limits, so there’s a hook for everything from a towel holster to something to hang your full-length mirror from.

Price on Amazon: $5.64

Buy it here

10) Keep cool with a box fan.

Amazon

Air conditioning is a luxury at most colleges and universities. But that doesn’t stop mother nature from turning up the heat, stay comfortable with a heavy duty fan.

Price on Amazon: $19.99

Buy it here

11) Sweep up quickly with a Swiffer.

Amazon

Dirt and dust builds up quickly, crumbs attract bugs and leftover sidewalk salt can hang around for weeks. Swiffer sweepers are great for non-carpeted rooms, easily transforming from broom to mop just by switching out the wipe.

Price on Amazon: $11.99

Buy it here

12) Flip off fungus by wearing flip-flops in the shower.

Amazon

Communal showers can be pretty dingy and a breeding ground for bacteria. Most of these germs are harmless, but why take a chance with toe fungus? Protect your feet in the shower with a pair of these sliders.

Price on Amazon: $16+

Buy it here

13) Noise-canceling headphones make for a great study buddy.

Amazon

Libraries are supposed to be quiet, but that’s not always the case. Plus if it’s raining or snowing are you really going to want to make that trek across campus? Probably not. Save yourself from the elements and noisy neighbors with a noise-reducing headset. You can thank me later.

Price on Amazon: $25

Buy it here

14) Load up with a hamper that also works as a laundry basket.

Amazon

When it comes to doing laundry, you’re not going to want to do it. So make it easy for yourself with a durable hamper that has handles for you to carry it with. Remember, Mom isn’t here to help you.

Price on Amazon: $23.99

Buy it here

15) Save yourself from shrinking your favorite shirt with a drying rack.

Amazon

University laundry rooms were built with one purpose: cleaning your clothes. But the machines tend to be pretty careless when it comes to the quality of your wardrobe. Avoid the unwanted shrinkage, holes and other damages caused by cheap washers and dryers by using a drying rack for your most prized possessions.

Price on Amazon: $15.61

Buy it here

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