In the months leading up to college move-in, I spent a substantial amount of time crafting lists of all sorts – lists of clothes to pack, lists of items for my dorm, lists of tasks to do before I left, and more. Even with the plethora of “college packing lists” floating around the Internet, it’s hard to tell what is reliable since every school is different and each dorm building seems to have different rules and regulations. No matter how many current and former students I talked to, I could never get a clear answer on whether or not to purchase or pack certain items.
Some of the worst feelings are worrying about not being prepared, not having the right technology or equipment, regretting not having access to something that you might need during college, or wasting money on unnecessary purchases. Since these are common pre-college fears (and since I was there not too long ago), I’ve compiled a list (based on my freshman year experiences thus far) of some purchases you may want to consider investing in and others to potentially skip out on.
During freshman orientation, my leader asked if my group of students had any serious questions about issues such as partying, campus violence, etc. Nobody raised their hand, so I asked a question that was VERY serious in my book: “Do we need a printer?” (Of course, I got the most vague response possible: “You will be fine either way!”)
I did not purchase a printer for my freshman year of college, and so far, all is well with the world. I am still able to print when I need to at the library, and I get a certain amount of free prints courtesy of my student government. However, I can’t speak for every college or university, so perhaps instead of asking students if you “need” a printer, try researching the printing policy or availability of printers before coming to school. While I will probably want a printer for future years, right now, it’s been perfectly fine not having one in my dorm. It might also depend on the classes you are taking; if you are in writing-heavy classes (or if you will be in the future) and know you will probably need to submit hard copies of papers, investing in a printer would not be a bad idea.
Many campuses are upgrading to completely wireless Internet access, but some older buildings and dorms may not have the strongest connection (or any connection at all). Many college packing lists suggest bringing an Ethernet cord and adapter (depending on your laptop brand/model). I came to college prepared with both the cord and adapter thinking it would be a dorm essential for accessing the Internet. However, I have only needed to use the Ethernet cord once or twice in my full month of being at school. I probably could have skipped out on this purchase, but there was absolutely no way of knowing if I would need it or not until I got to school and tried the Internet in person. Plus, although I don’t use the cord as much as I thought I would, I may need to have it in the future when living in an apartment or other building without wireless connection. In my experience, don’t stress about having an Ethernet cord – you may not need it at all, you may be able to access WiFi in other convenient spots on campus, and if you do end up wishing you had it, you can always purchase it later or order it online.
The laptop lock is an ingenious (but surprisingly underused) invention for anyone who likes to study or surf the web in public places (or even libraries) for long periods of time. Laptop locks come in many different styles, brands, and price ranges. Make sure to buy one that is made for your laptop model. I don’t use it every single day, but I’ve found that it has come in handy in many situations, like if I know I am going to be studying someplace alone. Some people would rather just take their valuables with them or ask a friend to watch their belongings, but this has been a very helpful purchase for me.
This is probably an obvious purchase since microwaves are arguably one of the most quintessential college appliances; they exemplify the beauty of reheating and convenience “cooking”. Microwaves are considered an essential for a reason, and it is easy to find fairly inexpensive microwaves with basic features perfect for simple snacks and mini-meals. Some dorm common room kitchens include a microwave, but it is definitely worth coordinating with your roommate and making sure one of you brings this handy-dandy appliance.
In my experience, having a TV is completely unnecessary in college. My roommate brought a TV, and we have only used it once or twice…both times were before fall classes even started. With Netflix and YouTube – and the other priorities and activities that will (and should) fill your days at college, a TV is not essential and is probably more of a hassle to carry up or down multiple flights of stairs than it is worth. If you are dying to watch your favorite show, odds are the lobby of your dorm, a common room, or another building on campus has a TV you can use.
Though you may feel pressure to have every single item on the Bed Bath and Beyond college shopping list, remember to first dig a little deeper and research your school’s policies and your dorm’s features. While there are plenty of other appliances and purchases to be discussed, remember that college is not about having the newest or fanciest laptop on the market or being fully equipped with every techy gadget ever made. Try not to stress out too much over the material items, as they are not the aspects that will define your college experience and make your time on campus memorable, enjoyable, and worthwhile.