If you are heading off to college for the first time this fall, congrats! It is such an exciting time—picking out your classes, meeting your roommate, making new friends. Although exciting, moving away from home and into a new space can be nerve-wracking at first.
As someone who just finished their first year at Syracuse University, the chaos of dorm room shopping is fresh in my mind. I also remember the items I used every day and the items I was convinced I needed, but sadly never made it out of their packaging. That is why this list exists—to give you some guidance for the big day! After all, packing up your life to move into your dorm or apartment at college, especially if you are a freshman, can be super daunting.
But, good news, I have compiled a list for you—your guide to everything you need for college.
During the summer it gets super-hot because CUSE doesn't invest in AC (since we live in the tundra for most of the year), so get a good fan for those first few months!
2. Light & Heavy Jacket
The cold sneaks up on you, so you don't want to be wearing a gigantic parka when it's only 40 degrees outside. I suggest getting a fleece for that weird in-between time (keep an eye out for those #discounts) but find a heavy-duty jacket for when it gets to be extremely bad. And, as my uber driver once told me, make sure it has a hood, so you're not blinded by the wind/snow combo.
3. Trash Can
GET A BIG ONE! I can't stress this enough. A small trash can will fill up within one day. And, no, I'm not being dramatic. Do you really want to empty your trash bin every day? Luckily, I got a big trash can; as a result, only had to take the trash out once a week—and that's with my roommate using it as well since she had a little trash can (she was too lazy to empty it and I promise you you'll be the same)!
4. Shower Caddy & Shower Shoes
Listen, people are straight-up gross and you absolutely cannot shower barefoot unless you and your feet have a death wish. Likewise, make sure you have a big enough shower caddy so you're not wrestling all your stuff to and from the bathroom every single time. Also, PLEASE don't be that person walking half-naked from the shower to the dorm—invest in a robe I'm begging you.
5. Paper Towels, Utensils, Mugs, and Bowls/Plates
1. That college kids make huge messes
2. That Easy-Mac does not come with a fork
3. That I wanted cereal but had no place to put it
4. That life is easier in the winter with a giant mug of hot chocolate
6. Electric Kettle
This has saved my life so many times. It helps me make ramen, hot cocoa, tea, and much more very quickly and easily which is a must if you can't cook (and if you can, please teach me because I'm hopeless).
7. Water Filter
If you don't want to continuously waste money on bottled water and you don't quite trust the water directly from the tap, get yourself a Brita filter. It's easy, it's painless, and it'll save you a ton of time and money.
8. Emergen-C & KleenexTissues, thermometer and medicines
Everyone is sick all the time, so if you even suspect that you may have a cold, down Emergen-C like nobody's business and thank me later. If not, resort to Kleenex and Dayquil and don't say I didn't warn you. Also, get your flu shot!
9. Mattress Pad and Protector
The beds are horribly uncomforable, but once I got myself a nice foam mattress pad, I found my bed at school to be nicer than my bed at home #truestory
10. Underbed Storage
Insert the **it's free real estate** meme here. I used all my under-the-bed bins for my sweaters (because my dresser wasn't big enough), but they're also useful if you have a lot of knick-knacks…or if it's parent's weekend and you want your room to magically appear clean.
I didn't bring nearly enough, but it's extremely helpful to have lots of these if you have a ton of clothes because the closets are usually a decent size.
12. Command Hooks
If you also have high expectations for your dorm aesthetic, use command hooks and such for your paintings, pictures, and even posters. Because they will 100% find you if anything happens to those walls and nobody wants that.
13. Second Pair of Sheets
So, you don't have to wait for your sheets to wash and can go to bed whenever you want #winning (and YES you must wash your sheets—I probably didn't do it enough but still)
14. Nice Comforter
After doing a lot of research on dorm aesthetics, I have found that, because your comforter is the first thing people see when they walk into your room, it is the single most important element in making your dorm look the way you want it to. So, choose wisely. Also, it's freezing so make sure it's warm.
Ok, weird fact: Since it's cold and snowy so often and the sun is not out all that much, you can start feeling very down very quickly (shout out to Seasonal Depression!). To combat the darkness, you need to get a good lamp or two.
16. Card Holder For Phone
This means the only thing you must bring to a party is your phone (and not a gigantic bag or something like that). Just don't lose it! Please! I'm begging you!
17. Pencils, Highlighters, Tape, Post-it Notes, Scissors, Stapler, and Notebooks
Do NOT bring many pens, if any. The number of free pens you receive at different events is ridiculous. DEFINITELY get a stapler. Many professors will require you to staple any assignment or paper you hand in. The front desk in the dorms don't always have a stapler, and you really don't want to be late to class just because you had to stop at the library first to use their stapler. Scissors are just something you will need—whether to take the tags off new clothes or to make a new DIY outfit for Halloween. Just get a pair—you'll never know when you'll need them. A tape dispenser is another thing you'll randomly need sometimes. Sticky notes are helpful when you need to organize your thoughts. I used to always write down what I needed to do that day on one and stick it onto my desk so I wouldn't forget. I don't think I need to explain why you need pencils, highlighters, or notebooks. Enough said.
Believe it or not, it doesn't always snow in Syracuse—it sometimes rains too! Sometimes, it can take up to 20 minutes to get to point A to point B, and if it's raining and you don't have an umbrella...well...good luck! You'll be looking like a soaked dog when you reach your class, dorm, etc.
The carpets in the dorm are blah. Add some color with a rug! Plus, it's more comfortable to sit/stand/walk on.
20. Dry Erase Board Calendar
I used to use my whiteboard to write down the dates I had any major tests or when I had any huge projects or papers due. It will really help you to stay on schedule as you can plan out exactly when to grind down on studying or writing.
21. Large Laundry Basket or Bag
GET A BIG ONE! I hate doing laundry so I would only do it when my bag got extremely full (which was a huge bag). As a result, I only did my laundry maybe once every week and a half/two weeks. However, if you have a small bag, you'll be doing it at least once a week if not twice.
22. Small Handheld Vacuum
Your friends will make messes in your dorm. And will they clean it up? Nope. Invest in a small vacuum unless you want to share the room with some furry friends.
23. Mini Fridge and Microwave
Do you want lukewarm drinks? Do you want to steal food from the dining hall and not eat it right away? Do you really want to throw out your $10 leftover Chipotle burrito bowl? Do you really want to walk all the way to the microwave in the dorm lounge on your floor? Right now, you might be fine with all these things, but trust me, once you're at CUSE that will all change. Just get the damn fridge and microwave.
24. Smart TV
Um....hello movie nights! Because I had a TCL 40-Inch 720p Roku Smart LED TV, I was able to watch anything I wanted on Hulu, Netflix, HBO, cable (CUSE offers every channel that exists!), etc. any time I wanted in my bed. I didn't have to wait for my turn to use the TV in the dorm lounge on my floor (which only has cable unless you have an extension cord to hook up your laptop to the TV), feel judged about what I was watching, be interpreted constantly, be pressured to change the show/movie because somebody didn't like what I was watching, or be pressured to leave because somebody else wanted to use the TV.
25. 6-Foot (or longer) Phone Charger & Portable Charger
I had a 1-meter (3 feet) lightning to the USB cable cord (which is the length of the original cable that comes with any iPhone). Big mistake! Whenever my phone was near dead, I had to always stay near the outlet it was plugged in. And, of course, since outlets are placed in the worst places in dorms, I never could use my phone when it was charging. Another way, besides getting an extra-long iPhone charger cable, of solving this problem is by getting a portable charger. With a portable charger, you would not only be able to use your phone when it's charging, but you wouldn't have to worry about finding an outlet.
26. Amazon Prime Membership
Did you need those textbooks yesterday? Have you run out of snacks and are too lazy to make a trip to the overpriced CVS near Marshall Street? Forgot to make or order a Halloween outfit at the beginning of October? Running out of time to get a birthday gift for your friend? You won't regret getting a membership, I promise you!
27. Spotify Premium for StudentsMusic On Your Smartphone Spotify Music Service
$4.99 for Spotify and Hulu...must I say more?
Be sure to put these items on your school supply list for college!