Hey College Freshmen: Don't Forget These 13 Things At Home
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Student Life

Hey College Freshmen: Don't Forget These 13 Things At Home

Learn from my mistakes! Bring these items with you this fall!

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Hey College Freshmen: Don't Forget These 13 Things At Home
Tess Thapalia

As my senior year fast approaches, I'm baffled by how quickly time has flown—wasn't it just freshman year? I remember it all so clearly, from the nervous excitement as I waited for my roommate assignment (hi, Clara!) to the dorm room shopping.

Ah, dorm shopping. I took it all very seriously, making sure my bedding matched my sheets, which matched my rug which matched my lamp. I had an aesthetic.

That's me, (mostly) moved into my freshman dorm. Oh how I miss that asymmetrical haircut!

I also discovered, very quickly, that there were some items I had neglected to bring with me. Some were things I merely wanted, some were definite needs, but I ended up with all of them eventually. Now, as my brother begins the preparation for his own freshman year move-in day, I want to share my hard-won wisdom with the incoming first-years.

This list goes beyond the obvious (a rug for your cold tile floor, because duh) and even the semi-obvious (surge protectors? an over-the-door shoe organizer for your closet? You've got this on lock). These are the items that you may have already thought of, but just as easily forgotten about a few minutes later.

Learn from my mistakes! Bring these items with you the first time!


1. A can opener.

Don't laugh! I think this was the item I lent out the most over the course of freshman year. Every so often, someone would post in the building Facebook group (which was run by the RAs) asking to borrow a can opener, and I always obliged. Many canned foods, those reliable staples of the college diet, do have pull-tab tops, but many do not. Don't get caught at midnight with a can of Spaghettios and no way to eat them! Grab yourself a can opener and be someone's hero. Be your own hero.

1A. Similarly, an ice cream scoop and/or a pizza cutter are very useful things to have around in college. Not as much in demand, but not to be sneezed at, either.

2. Measuring cups.

Another cooking implement? Yes. I didn't need them often, but having them was great. There are some easy, microwavable foods that need measured ingredients, like water or milk, which was what I mostly used them for; once, some girls down the hall made cookies and borrowed my cups for the endeavor. I got a few cookies in return, which was the sweetest barter ever.

3. Stain remover.

It's going to happen: some barbecue sauce makes a spectacular tumble, your lo mein falls onto your lap, a friendly game of Ultimate Frisbee turns into a contact sport. You're going to get stains on your clothes, and if all you have are Tide Pods, you're going to be out of luck. Nothing against Tide Pods, they're great, but they're not the be-all, end-all of laundry. If this is your first time taking care of your clothing alone, have no fear: stain removers have instructions! You can handle it! At the very least you should have a stain stick in your desk drawer, if not a bottle of Zout or OxiClean.

4. Utensils.

I brought a couple of real metal forks, spoons and knives from an old set, and let me tell you, they made such a difference. If you're going to eat cheap takeout, at least you don't have to use the cheap plastic forks, right? Plus, it cuts down on waste, since you're not throwing away plastic utensils all the time. And making and eating oatmeal at 2 a.m. is a lot better when done with a real spoon. (Oatmeal: another use for those measuring cups.)

5. Tupperware.

Don't forget this at home! Just a basic set is all you need, but you'll love having it. It's nice to have something to put your leftover Chinese food in, and they're perfect for smuggling food out of the dining hall. And at the end of the semester, you can use them to pack things like magnets, bobby pins, sticky tac—any small, loose items.

6. A piggy bank.

It can be useful and decorative at the same time, which is great, because space in a dorm room is a precious commodity.

Another non-food-related item! Somehow, spare change accumulates fast, mainly because there's a lot of cash going around in college. Rather than let it scatter loose around the room, have a designated place for your pennies. I had a nice metal jar, a friend of mine had a cute bank shaped like a cat; whatever it is, you'll be glad all your quarters are in one place when you're trying to make a vending machine run at 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night.

7. A (portable) stapler.

Odds are very good that your professors will require your papers to be stapled or paper clipped if you're handing in hard copies. Not once has a professor of mine let students hand in unattached pages. If you have a stapler in your bag, you'll never find yourself in a jam when you're printing your paper five minutes before class. This is one of those items which makes you friends, too; once you become "that girl with the stapler," everyone wants to say hi!

8. One of those chair-pillow things.

You know, these things.

Bed rest, backrest, armchair pillow—whatever you call them, it may seem like they're just a conspiracy, one of those unnecessary items retailers shove at you to try to pull a few more bucks out of your pocket. Au contraire! Dorm rooms often have very little seating, most likely just your bed and a desk chair. You're going to be spending a lot of time lounging on your bed. These pillows make that a lot more comfortable, and also fill the gap between the mattress and your pillows really nicely, so you don't wake up to find your pillows have slithered under the bed overnight. (Sigh.) Get one that matches your bedding, for added flair. And speaking of cushions....

9. A chair cushion.

A regular old cushion for hard chairs is a blessing to have around. Most desk chairs provided by schools are hard plastic or maybe wood, so having a cushy layer between you and the seat will make those long hours slaving at your laptop easier to handle. Also, they're perfect for sitting out on the campus green during events if you don't have a blanket to lay out. (A blanket that you can lay out on the ground is another great item to pack, FYI.)

10. Batteries.

You'd be shocked at how many things need batteries, and how many people don't have batteries. Flashlights, alarm clocks, video game controllers...plenty of electronics these days are rechargeable, and that's great, but not everything is! Be prepared, or that Mario Kart tournament might be cut dramatically short for the lamest possible reason.

11. An ethernet cable.

If your dorm room has an ethernet port, my friend, you are in luck. Hooking up your laptop (or desktop or gaming system) to an ethernet port guarantees you a stronger, more reliable internet connection than WiFi, in my humble experience, and those cables are super cheap if you don't need a long one. A two-meter cable runs about $10, and it's invaluable when your neighbors are complaining about the slow WiFi and you're streaming Netflix with no problem. (No idea what an ethernet cable is or how to use one? Click here for some useful info.)

12. Measuring tape.

I'm sure you've got a basic toolkit, because these days everyone does, it seems. Having a small hammer and some screwdrivers (Phillips head and slot/flat head, of course) is dead useful. Make sure you've got a measuring tape, too! My roommate and I used ours when we rearranged the furniture to make sure everything fit the way we wanted it to before committing to actually moving it. They're also great for settling debates about who the tallest person on the floor is and checking things like men's inseam lengths. Although for that last one, you're probably better off with a soft fabric measuring tape, of the sort found in....

13. A sewing kit.

Has a well-meaning relative or family friend given you one yet? If not, get one yourself, because they have the right idea. It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a regular travel sewing kit will do. Remember our earlier discussion about how it was inevitable that your clothing will get stained? The same is true for rips, tears, unraveling seam threads and loose buttons. Rather than let one pulled thread ruin your favorite flannel, come prepared and whipstitch it yourself. It takes little time and less ability, I promise, and you've got the whole internet to teach you how to handle it. At the risk of sounding like your mother, it's a useful life skill!


I hope this article helped you out! Just remember, if you do forget something, it's not the end of the world. Care packages are great for getting that one thing you left behind somehow, and if not, all you have to do is hold out until Thanksgiving! You've got this.

Was this list helpful? Did I leave anything out? Tweet me or comment below to let me (and everyone else on the internet) know about it!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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