I was basically a freshman twice: my first year of college as an actual freshman, and my first semester of sophomore year when I studied abroad (and had to live in a dorm and go through orientation for a second fall in a row). And through those experiences, I realized there are a lot of things you need for college. And a lot of things you don’t need. As I’m heading into my junior year at the University of South Carolina, I feel like I might have a little insight into a few things a freshman needs in their dorm room that they might not have thought of.
1. A tutu.
Most organizations have some sort of fun-themed-something, and the easiest way to look festive and fun without having to think too much about the rest of the outfit is a tutu (and you can wear it with leggings and not deal with uncomfortable costumes). And this may sound sorority-specific, but I promise it’s not (I really wish I had taken a picture of the rugby team I saw running around in tutus, but alas I did not).
2. An extremely long phone charger cord.
Yay, you finally have a lofted bed! (Having to jump to get on your bed every time won't get tiring at all... *sarcasm*). But most of the electric sockets are at a regular level. Do you really want to get out of bed every time you get a Snapchat? I didn’t think so.
3. Fruits, veggies and healthy granola bars. (Not jars of peanut butter and candy bars.)
Healthy foods… put them in your mini fridge because I know you got one. You might want to get your money’s worth out of the all-you-can-eat meal plan and eat dessert with every meal, but unless you are blessed with the world’s greatest metabolism, it’ll catch up to you a bit (not to mention you’re no longer going to sports practices for two hours every day anymore). You are going to waste money on the meal plan, there’s really no way around it. But being healthy is more important. You can gain the freshman 15 or the freshman 50, and the choice is up to you. Health is easy to put on the back burner in college, but do your best to resist that tendency.
4. Workout clothes.
Even if you aren’t going to work out every day (and you probably won’t, you won’t always have time), walking around campus in your cutest outfits all day is going to get uncomfortable. And you don’t want to do laundry every few days to wash your only workout clothes. As much as buying cute clothes for class is fun, it’s not realistic. Take this from someone who used to take an hour and a half to get ready in high school who can now be up and out of the house in ten minutes. And to those of you who show up to class looking like you just got off the runway, I salute you. I honestly don’t know how you do it.
5. Your prom dress.
This one is directed to sororities. Unless you plan on buying a new dress for formal, it’s a good idea to have it on hand.
6. A pasta strainer.
Don’t waste $20 on a shower caddy (as I did my first year of college). A pasta strainer costs about a dollar and it does the same thing.
7. ONE notebook.
I love color-coordinated everything. I love binders. And school supplies. And all the pretty things. But… you don’t want to carry all that a mile from one side of campus to the other. My best advice for school supplies: a water bottle, two pencils, two pens and a college-ruled notebook (the kind with five sections [for all your classes] where the dividers have little pockets -- for the few handouts you’ll get in class). Some students need to take their computers to class because of the curriculum, but I have had multiple teachers not even allow computers to be out during their classes.
Fall semester of my freshman year, I bought all the suggested textbooks online from the school’s bookstore. But for freshman classes (*starts to whisper*) you probably don’t need those big textbooks. You only need the online access codes if your teacher requires them. First of all, your first day of class the professor might tell you this, so hold off buying in advance. Second of all, if you didn’t read your textbook in high school and instead just used your notes and Google as a means of studying (as most normal humans do), then you won’t read your textbook in college. The only time I have found that this doesn’t apply is in my English classes where I needed to buy (or rent, a great option, by the way) a novel and read it in order to write my essays.
9. Cheap posters.
Dorm rooms go from hot to freezing to humid (and sometimes moldy) in about ten minutes. Not a place to put fancy decorations. My freshman year I took a painting I’d worked really hard on to put on my wall and ended up having to take it home because the wall it was on got so weirdly humid that green slime started to show up on the wall every morning. We don’t know why. It’s just because it’s a dorm room. So, cheap decorations. And a small dehumidifier if you’re in a humid climate (it takes some of the water out of the air, thus discouraging mold from growing).
10. Safety pins, thumbtacks, duct tape, command strips, sticky notes, Band-Aids.
Just a good idea to have them around.
11. A good reusable water bottle.
Hauling packages of disposable water bottles up to your dorm room all the time is tiring (and a reusable is better for the environment). Just make sure it’s a good one that won’t leak. Wet papers or worse, a wet computer, would not be a fun time. If you are worried about the quality of the tap water, look into a Brita Filter or something of the like.
Enjoy the rest of summer and share with your favorite rising freshman!