14 Things You Need for College That Are Absolutely Crucial
Start off your semester flawlessly by making sure you have all these things college students need
Going off to college for the first time is a big transition! Freshman year at college can elicit feelings of excitement, along with ones of apprehension.
There’s uncertainty surrounding the things you need for college, what your professors will be like, and how to make new friends.
Being prepared and knowing the things that college students need can help with some of those first semester jitters.
Already having everything ready when move-in day finally comes around will take some stress out of your life, too.
Here’s a list with 14 things every college student needs. Stuff that might have been overlooked or forgotten in the frenzy of back to school madness.
Definitively Necessary Things You Need for College
What should I bring to college freshman year?
That’s a great question to ask yourself ahead of time, and in this post I’m going to answer it. College move-in day prep can be chaotic, and we’ve all been known to have a brain fart from time to time.
That’s why I made this list to help you avoid missing something important. Some of it’s no-brainer stuff, and some of it’s not-so-obvious stuff.
But all of it are things that you’ll be glad to have once you’re at school.
What do most college students need?
These are all the college necessities I’ll be covering in this post:
- Laptop backpack
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Lint roller
- Mattress topper
- Safe or lockbox
- Wrinkle release spray
- Dry erase board
- Note paper
- Surge protector
- Water bottle or tumbler
Now I’m going to talk a little bit about each one and offer some recommendations.
14 Things That College Students Need
1. A Laptop Backpack
One of the most important things you need for college is a backpack. I know, it’s definitely a duh thing.
BUT – you’re not going to want to use just any backpack.
What you really want is a functional, sturdy backpack. One that can survive semester after semester and year after year of abuse.
The last thing you need is to have a backpack strap break in the middle of the year when you’re broke AF. Heavy textbooks require a heavy duty bag!
Since a laptop is one the most expensive items that you’ll own as a student, it’s best to have a backpack that’s built to carry one. A laptop compartment will not only keep your bag more organized, but the padding will offer additional protection.
These (one and two) are my affordable college laptop backpack recommendations that’ll go well beyond just getting the job done.
Check out these 9 stylish laptop bags for girls.
2. A Calculator
Yes I know you have a calculator on your smart phone, however:
The use of a cell phone is (typically) not permitted during testing. Testing centers at colleges don’t allow it, and neither do most professors.
So, for this one simple reason:
You’ll want to invest in a calculator. It doesn’t need to be an expensive or fancy calculator – that is, unless you are taking a class that has certain requirements.
Inexpensive, yet versatile scientific calculators can be found for cheap online. Or a smart idea would be to buy one off a graduating student, they may even just give it to you at no cost.
3. A Planner
You may not have used a planner in high school, but using one in college will make your life easier to manage.
A lot will be going on during your college years and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
With a planner you can track when assignments are due, your class schedule, study group dates, and more. Track every detail of your life or just the basic framework.
But trust me:
It’s SO much easier to be successful in college when you’re organized. I strongly believe that a planner is one of those things that every college student needs.
These are the best academic planners for college students that are under $35. ‘Cause not all of us can afford to drop $50+ on a planner.
4. Comfortable Walking Shoes
If you attend school on a big campus, it’s likely that quite a bit of walking is in your future.
As a college student you’ll have enough to worry about without sore feet.
So do yourself a favor and make sure to get a pair of shoes that are right for the job. You’ll want to have sneakers that start out comfortable and stay comfortable for a long time.
I suggest looking for shoes that are mid-range in price.
Cheap shoes can be uncomfortable, cause blisters and fall apart quickly.
Look for something that has a fair amount of cushioning, good support, and positive reviews.
Here are the best women’s and men’s mid-range, walking shoes available on Amazon right now.
5. A Lint Roller
An unexpected thing to bring to college is a lint roller.
They’re way more useful than for just picking up lint!
Sticky lint roller paper can be used to dust window ledges, lampshades, clean out a drawer (ladies, you know the ones with your brush and hair ties), clean out car crevices, and more!
I just LOVE it when something has more than once use.
Personally, I don’t recommend buying a lint roller from a dollar store; they just don’t work very well. Because of this, I think dollar store lint rollers are a waste of money.
The EXTRA sticky lint rollers are where it’s at.
They even have more sheets which makes them last longer, too. To me, they’re well worth the few extra bucks.
In the frenzy of packing for college you may forget one of the simple, yet essential things for college you need – hangers!
The nice thing about them is that:
The cheap ones are pretty much just as good as the pricier ones.
Save your money for other things, and pick up a 10 pack of hangers for only a buck at the dollar store.
7. A Mattress Topper
Dorm beds are not exactly the epitome of comfort.
The mattress has likely seen – ahem – a lot before you, and will continue to after you move out.
Help your future self out by bringing a nice mattress topper to college.
Getting enough quality sleep is always important, but it’s especially important as a student. Be sure that you’ll be comfortable enough to get those glorious 8 hours, or more.
If you need a mattress topper recommendation – this one has RAVE reviews. Plus, it often goes on sale, any price under $50 for it is a steal.
8. A Safe or Lockbox
As sucky as it is…
Some people steal.
It’s just one of those facts of life, no matter where you are in the world.
And that’s why next up on my list of things college students need is a safe or a lockbox.
Keep your valuables, like a wallet, important documents, cash and others, in it away from prying hands.
A safe like this one or this smaller, more portable one makes it easy to protect your stuff, while giving you peace of mind when your roomie has friends over.
9. Wrinkle Release Spray
I don’t know many people who use an iron these days – no scratch that, I don’t know anyone who does.
Wearing wrinkly clothes that got left in the dryer too long is still less than ideal.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution:
A spray that removes wrinkles??
I know! When I first heard of it my mind was blown too, but trust me this stuff works.
Not only is it good for removing wrinkles, it also works as a static remover and odor eliminator.
Put this at the top of the list of unexpected things to bring to college that you REALLY need. You can sleep in your clothes but still make it look like you didn’t.
10. A Dry Erase Board
In this lineup of things you need for college, you will find a dry erase board invaluable. It just has SO many uses!
Use it for homework, leaving notes for roommates, make a grocery list, or even just doodling to relieve stress if that’s what you like to do.
And like a planner:
It’s a smart move to write important reminders in multiple spots!
I like this one because it includes a cork frame if you want to pin papers to it, AND it comes with the markers. Win-win.
11. Lined Paper
I know this should be a no-brainer, buutttt….
When you’re busy packing to leave and saying goodbye to friends, things tend to slip the mind. Just don’t forget to bring a fair amount of lined paper!
Keep a big enough supply and you won’t have to worry about it again until the end of the semester.
You don’t want to run out of paper on an evening after the stores have closed and you need to finish an assignment.
Not quite everything is done on a computer at this point in time. Some classes will require the pen and paper technique.
Lined paper is something you will want to buy at the store – ordering it online is more expensive.
Back-to-school sales are the best time to shop for supplies like lined paper. Prices will be as low 25¢, so save your change for the right time to head to the store.
12. A Surge Protector
What do you need for college?
For sure one you thing you need is a surge protector. The LAST thing you want is to have happen while you’re in college is for your electronics to be burnt out by a lightning storm!
Power outages happen more often than you might think.
All it takes is a storm for the power to go out and if your laptop is plugged into the wall, you could lose it all in a flash.
The good thing about surge protectors:
Is that they’re cheap – much cheaper than replacing a computer.
13. A Water Bottle or Tumbler
All that walking around campus you’ll be doing is bound to make you thirsty.
Get a water bottle and keep it with you, and filled, at all times. You never know how good a drink of water sounds on a hot summer day in class.
A reusable water is not only eco-friendly, but also cost effective.
One of my tips:
Keep two: one chilling in a fridge and one at school. ‘Cause if there’s something better than having water on a hot day, it’s having ice cold water.
I’ve used Nalgene and Hydro Flask water bottles for years and I love them because they last for well, years.
14. A Fan
Out of all the things you need for college, this one you may like the best.
A fan can be a real life saver on hot, stuffy days.
A nice, small, powerful fan sure to become your best friend in the dorms.
Conclusion on things every college student needs…
While this is certainly not everything you need for college:
It’s a great start!
When you’re ready to start packing for college, be sure to start with my ultimate college packing list! It includes free PDF checklists – one for girls and one for guys.
What’re some unexpected things to bring to college that you would recommend?
Related articles with things that students need:
- The best planners for college students (that are actually affordable)
- College necessities that you’ll seriously miss if you forget
- Cutest backpacks for college – 9 stylish picks for girls
- 13 MUST haves in college (if you want to stay sane)
Charlie is the co-founder of College Life Made Easy and author of the book 175+ Things to Do Before You Graduate College. She’s a 2015 graduate who teaches overwhelmed students and parents of students how to confidently navigate the whole college thing. As a former broke college kid, she’s passionate about helping students develop the skills they need in order to thrive (instead of just survive), stress less, and actually enjoy the full college experience.