12 Unexpected Things You Have To Buy Before College Starts

Summer may have just begun, but if you’re going to be a college freshman come the fall, you’re definitely already thinking about how to prepare for the upcoming school year. Packing for your first year of college is exciting, overwhelming, and confusing. There’s so much you want to bring with you – your cutest dresses! Your favorite blanket! Your entire collection of books just in case you get bored! – but you know that, logically, you’ll never be able to fit everything. Packing for college is about learning what’s essential for the school year, and what isn’t necessary – and figuring that out when you’ve never been to college can feel a little impossible.

You probably already know about the basic things you need to buy for college: toiletries, shower shoes, a first aid kit, a mattress topper, extra extension cords, snacks, photos, etc. You definitely do need all of that stuff! But there are also some more unexpected items you should buy as well, things you probably won’t think about until you’re in a specific situation and you think, “Damn, I wish had that right now.” It’s best to try to prepare for as much as possible, especially if you’re going to be really far from home and you don’t have a car to drive yourself around. So, while you’re packing for college this summer, keep the below items in mind – they will definitely help get you through your first year of college the best way possible.


An Oil Diffuser

One thing you'll learn pretty quickly about living at school is that, uh, college dorms have a tendency to smell. The smell could come from anything - one friend moved into a dorm that was just smelly for no reason, another friend had a roommate who didn't shower very often - and it sucks. Who wants to live in a room that stinks? Most dorms won't allow you to light candles, but an oil diffuser should be totally fine (double check first!). Get some nice essential oils (I personally love eucalyptus and lavender) and your room will smell lovely no matter what. You have to refill the oils all the time, but honestly, it's worth it.

Oil Diffuser, $24, Art Naturals

A Light Up Vanity Mirror

Your dorm room most likely comes with a mirror or two, but if you wear makeup, you'll probably want to bring your own vanity/desk mirror so that you don't have to fight for space. You should definitely get a light up mirror - most dorm rooms are low on natural light, and the lighting they do offer is either too dim or too harsh for makeup application. A light up vanity mirror will help you in your beauty routine more than you realize!

Impressions Vanity Co Touch 2.0 LED Vanity Mirror, $45, Nordstrom

To-Go Containers

Okay, so this isn't the sexiest item on this list, but you'll find that reusable food containers will be a huge help during the school year. You can bring empty containers to the cafeteria, and fill them up with snacks or food to eat later on so you don't have to head out when you're hungry. They're also great for any little food you make in your room (if you're allowed to have a microwave), and they're ideal if you want to bring food to classes or something like that. They'll definitely come in handy more often than you think.

Rubbermaid Easy To Find 34-Piece Storage Container Set, $24.99, Amazon

A Stapler

It might sound so basic that it feels silly to mention it, but a lot of incoming freshmen are so consumed with packing the right things that they end up forgetting about the school supplies they'll need. A stapler will be a life-saver when you need to print out papers to hand in, and they'll also generally help you keep your paperwork organized. Of course, you can always borrow from a professor or the library, but it's always going to be more convenient to have your own.

Threshold Marble Stapler, $15.99, Target

A Mini Water Cooler

Save money on water bottles and save time running around buying them by keeping a mini water cooler or filter in your dorm room. It will be a total lifesaver and you'll probably make friends from other dorm rooms because of it too!

Primo Black Top-Loading Cool Water Cooler, $39.99, Lowe's

An Overnight Pouch

This overnight pouch is more of a collection of small items rather than one thing, but it's worth making! While in college, you'll find that some nights you end up sleeping in another dorm room, or you might be woken up in the middle of the night for a fire drill. Keep a little pouch stocked with essentials next to your bed so you can grab it when needed. Keep it stocked with a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, travel deodorant, a tampon/pad or two, Advil or Tylenol, and whatever else you would need if you were staying out.

Pouch, $20, Francesca's

Extra Blankets

You don't just need blankets for your bed - you should also pack a few extra. These spare blankets can be given to any visitors sleeping in your dorm room, you can bring them along when you sleep in another room, or you can keep some on your bed and some in a common area (if your dorm room has one). They're a little annoying to pack because they take up space, but you'll definitely use them.

Calhoun & Co Good At Naps Throw Blanket, $108, Urban Outfitters

A Long Ethernet Cable

Yes, it's 2017, and WIFI will be available, but, uh, it's best not to rely on that in a dorm room. An ethernet cable will help if the WIFI goes down, and a super long one will ensure that no matter where it's located, you'll be comfortable while using it.

100 FT Ethernet Cable, $10.65, Walmart

A Mini Sewing Kit

Even if you don't know how to sew, you should have a mini sewing kit stocked away in your dorm room. It will come in handy when your favorite shirt or dress rips, or if you get a hole in your pants or something. And your roomies will appreciate it too!

Compact Sewing Kit, $11.95, Amazon

A Power Strip

If you don't already have this written down as a dorm essential, add it immediately. You will quickly find that dorm rooms either don't have enough outlets, or they have outlets in horribly annoying spots. A power strip will help get more things plugged in - just don't overdo it, of course. I love this one, which is flexible instead of something that doesn't move, making it easier for small spaces.

Quirky Pivot Power Pop Junior, $18.97, Amazon

An Umbrella

This is another item that is such a basic thing that it becomes easy to forget about - until the first day it's pouring rain and you somehow need to make it to class. Get yourself a good umbrella - I think the bubble ones are the absolute best.

totes Signature Clear Bubble Umbrella, $26, Amazon

A Small Tool Kit

You should absolutely bring tools to your dorm room, even if you don't think you're handy - you'll need them at some point! Get yourself a starter tool kit, and when something happens, just Google a tutorial video and get working!

Apollo Tools 39 Piece General Tool Kit, $35.95, DormSmart

Are you going to college this year? What are you packing that we didn’t include? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.

 

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