5 Essential Items That College Freshmen Really Need


It's exciting times, you are heading away to college. One of the biggest challenges, when you are starting life as a freshman, is packing up your entire life and moving into a tiny room. What essential items will make your transition smooth? How do you prepare for your adventure of living on your own and away from your family?

Here are the five main things you need when you head off to college.

1) Tablet, computer, laptop, or notebook

If you are writing papers, conducting research, or taking notes in class, having a portable computer is vital. Pick a computer that is conducive to lots of typing. If you choose a tablet, consider purchasing a portable keyboard to complete assignments and take notes. Check into the storage capacity to ensure you have enough room for all your downloads, images and documents.

Don't forget, many people use their computers as their personal entertainment device. If you can stream music and movies online, you can avoid a cable TV or satellite bill. These savings can dramatically free up some cash each month. Also, purchasing refurbished equipment can be a great option. Ask about last season's model as they are often still available in stores.

2) Backpack/Book Bag

You will need textbooks for many classes. Invest in a book bag or backpack. Check out the versions that are designed with laptops to maximize your storage. You want something with compartments for power supply cords and with enough space for all your essentials. 

3) Inexpensive Phone Plans Save Big-Time

Check into a smartphone that is available for less. It is essential to stay in touch with family, friends, doctor, and dentist appointments, etc. You don't have to splurge on an expensive phone plan to achieve your communication needs. Look into student plans and low-cost plan systems through a variety of carriers. You will need to purchase a phone to take advantage of these; however, do the math and see how much it can save you compared to a long-term contract. 

4) Dorm Room Necessities

Whether you decide to split a dorm room or share an apartment, there are some personal care items you will require. Washcloths, bath towels, and a shower caddy for transporting your items to the bathroom can easily be found on sale. Other items you will appreciate having that you can stock up on ahead of time include:

  • A laundry bag and laundry detergent
  • Personal bedding including sheets, pillowcases, and blankets. Many dorm beds require a specific sheet size so check before purchasing a set.
  • Garbage bags and a garbage can
  • Basic first aid kit
  • A lamp for your desk
  • Toilet brush, bathmat, shower curtain, shower curtain hooks
  • Can-opener, knife set, scissors, tape, glue, candles, matches, or a lighter
  • Hooks for over-the-door
  • Storage bins, hanging closet organizers, baskets, or under-the-bed units if your location doesn't have any built-in shelving.
  • Batteries
  • Wall mirror
  • Cutlery, dishes, toaster, coffee pot/Bodum, teapot, kettle, and a microwave may be included but may not so double-check.
  • A simple toolkit containing a ratchet, multi-head screwdriver and a hammer.
  • Bed lifts for additional storage, note that certain housing co-ops have cinder block rentals that are less expensive than bed lifts at the store.
  • Textbooks

Additional items to consider:

  • Stereo, radio, something other than headphones
  • A white-noise machine to help you deal with noisy neighbors or roommates
  • Shower thongs if you are going to be sharing a bathroom
  • TV
  • Dresser, end tables, kitchen table and chairs (some places will come with all the furniture and appliances you need, but others won't)
  • Used Textbooks Save Big, Good Condition Books are Easy To Re-sell

Purchasing textbooks second-hand is an ideal way to save lots of cash. Check that you are looking at the same edition as required on your reading list. Alternatively, there are textbook rental sites out there that will enable you to pay a smaller amount and rent digital textbooks or a hard copy. Check online and look at campus bulletin boards or ask your teachers if they have any recommendations. 

Planning Will Help You Budget & Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed

Once you have been accepted to college or university and view your dorm or find an apartment, you will be better prepared to decide what items you need. Many places are furnished, while others are not. 

Some students prefer a mattress protector or foam if they are going to be renting a pre-existing bed. Others, prefer to set up some of their own furniture. Do you need a futon or a loveseat or a chair? Are kitchen appliances included? 

Ask the landlord or the RA for details about what is included so you can be prepared. You will likely be able to find a list online from your school if you are renting on campus; however, asking around in advance can save you from missing that one key item.

Stocking Up Early 

Visiting second-hand stores is a great place to pick up gently used household items. If you can make a list ahead of time and purchase a couple of items each month or once every paycheque, you should be well set up by the time you move in. 

You might even be able to splurge on some LED lighting or a few houseplants to increase your air quality and your ambiance. Think about your creature comforts at home and how you can affordably add those items or bring them with you to maximize your comfort and personalize your space.