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10 Items No One Tells You You'll Need for College

10 Items No One Tells You You'll Need for College

I’ve always had the tendency to be an over-packer or an under-packer – never the perfect balance between the two. I either bring 10 pairs of underwear for an overnight stay (hey, you never know how many different accidents you might have or if anyone will have to see your undies because of them), or I forget to bring any except the ones I’m wearing that day. Especially when packing for college, I brought and bought a bunch of items I really didn’t need, but I also didn’t buy a few that could’ve made my life infinitely easier. Here are ten items no one tells you you’ll need for college.


1.     Cash. No, I don’t mean your bank card. I mean physical cash. I know we’re in the digital era of paying with a debit or credit card, using money transferring apps, and even paying with our phones, but there will inevitably come a time where you’d rather have cash on you. In my sophomore year of college, my bank was transitioning their debit cards to have a chip in them. What they didn’t tell my sister and me is our cards without the chip would be declined for every transaction we’d attempt to make. Our bank is one specific to the Middle Georgia area – two hours from our university. On top of that, the cards got shipped to our home address, not our college apartment since we’d had issues with packages never making it to us. My mom ended up rush-shipping them to us, but we were essentially without money for almost a week. We couldn’t buy groceries, gas, or even take money out of any ATM. We were essentially stranded. Even if you only keep $20 in your wallet, it’s smarter to have a little physical cash in case disaster strikes.

2.     Headphones or earphones. This may seem like a no-brainer, but no one realizes how crucial having a pair of headphones or earphones is until they’re riding solo on a bus, or trying to study in a crowded library, or even just walking around campus and wanting to avoid the student organizations picketing in front of the dining hall. I would even suggest having a backup pair that stay in your bookbag and/or purse. Earphones are incredibly easy to lose. My boyfriend left his headphones in the back of Ubers twice last semester alone. As a music and podcast lover, he was quite gutted when he realized he’d not only have to purchase another pair, but that he couldn’t listen to his favorite podcast until he went home.

3.     Extra car key. Man, oh man. Please have an extra car key. Now, for all you posh folks like my twin sister who have push-to-start vehicles… good luck. Those extra keys are expensive. But if you’re in the 1999 Toyota Corolla fan club (also known as the coolest kids in town), getting an extra car key made at Lowe’s costs no more than $5. Since being in college, I’ve left my car keys in a classroom and came back to a locked room and have had a keychain break on me, meaning my key is probably making its way through the city’s sewage system. I always keep an extra key on my person, and I’m going to get an extra key made for the apartment, just in case my sister needs to use my car and I’m out somewhere else. If your dormitory or apartment still uses traditional keys, I’d recommend making an extra of that as well; it beats paying an exorbitant rate from the apartment complex for a replacement that really only costs a few dollars.

4.     Air freshener. Whether it’s a spray can of freshener or wall plugins, I highly suggest buying it. It may seem like a frivolous, unnecessary purchase, but your nose will thank you. When your roommate is blowing up the bathroom in which you will have to promptly take a shower? Air freshener. Dormitories are notorious for retaining scents – especially unsavory ones. If someone burns their popcorn, the whole hall will probably be smelling it for a week or more. An air freshener, whether spray or plugin, will at least mask the smell a little and give your nose a break from the offending odor.

5.     Command strips. If you have decorations of any kind you’d like to put up, I would recommend command strips. Some apartments and dorm facilities allow small, semi-permanent alterations to be made, such as a hole smaller than a dime in size for a curtain rod. Other places might charge for any “damage” or alteration to a room. And chances are, you’re probably not going to stay in the same apartment or dorm room for the entirety of your college career. Command strips are a safe alternative to drilling holes and using nails to hang decorations, and they’re easy to remove as well. The most damage you’d be responsible for is maybe a little stripped paint.

6.     Extra charger/battery pack. College days are long. My normal days are waking up at five-thirty in the morning to hit the gym and coming home around eight after my latest class. No matter how new the model of phone, the batteries die before the long day is over. If you’re in a college decently equipped with outlets, a charging cord might be sufficient for you. Some colleges, like mine, have charging stations, but in using them, the owner of the phone has to stay near the station, so their device won’t get stolen. Having a portable battery pack allows one to stay on the go without sacrificing their phone battery. And in today’s digital age, it’s imperative to make sure that battery stays charged.

7.     Rainboots AND a rain poncho. Yes, both are one-hundred percent imperative. You’ll be walking outside a lot once you enter college, and soggy shoes are not fun. Neither is soggy clothing. College campuses don’t exactly have the best drainage systems either, and the pretty landscaping can reservoir enough water to go up to the knees. For example, an area in front of the dorms at my college used to get so overflown with water, I once came back from class to see some people swimming in it. Yuck. A rain poncho/jacket is a must as well, because most umbrellas do a terrible job of shielding a person from rain falling diagonally.

8.     Bedroom slippers. Not only are they nice and comfy, but they’re helpful in a dorm for many reasons. You might be great at cleaning up the apartment, sweeping, and vacuuming, but you could be rooming with a complete slob who doesn’t even know what cleaning products are. They’re functional if you want to go to the laundry room or community kitchen, but don’t feel like lacing up sneakers. It’s also convenient when a fire alarm is triggered at one in the morning and the first instinct you have is to get the hell out of your room before you burn to a crisp. They’re quick and easy. Side note: please don’t walk down the corridors in bare feet. You may think the floors get cleaned or vacuumed, but I can tell you now, they don’t.

9.     Reusable water bottle. College is a time of increased cardio – you’ll do more walking and running around than you’ve ever done in your entire life. Especially in August and September, the heat is fierce, and the thirst gets real. Keep a water bottle with you. I say reusable because it’s healthier for the environment, and the insulated ones like the Swell brand keep water nice and cold all day, but even a plastic one will do. What you don’t want to do is get so thirsty you pay for a $3 bottle of water at a vending machine or in the school convenience store. It’s a major rip-off.

10.  Brita filter/pitcher. Since we’re on the topic of water, I might as well introduce this little nugget. Again, this may seem like an uppity purchase, but it’s cost effective and time efficient in the long run. Most freshman dorms don’t have a kitchen in-suite. There might be a community kitchen, like at my university, but not all universities have them. Even with a community kitchen, it was annoying to walk down the hallway just to fill my water bottle or get a cup of water. Yes, you could be lazy and just use tap water from the bathroom but…yikes. That life is not the one for me. With a Brita pitcher, you could fill up the pitcher from wherever you feel most comfortable and store it in the refrigerator for whenever it’s needed. Though the filters are about $15 a piece in some places, each filter lasts for at least three months. That break down is about $5 a month, which is less than what could potentially be spent on regular, single-use bottles of water. It’s also environmentally sustainable since those water bottles aren’t being thrown into landfills.


College move-in starts today at my school, and the semester starts on Monday. If at all possible, add some of these items to your list and go purchase them! Future you will be very happy you did. If you would like to see some items I’ve purchased for back to school, visit my YouTube channel where I’ve uploaded a “Back to School” haul! I’ve started back posting over there, so I’d love to see my lovelies on there as well.

Write you little lovelies later,

XO Ky M.

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