Heading to college soon and don’t know where to start? Here are 27 things every college student needs.
Are you wondering what things every college student needs no matter the major or year?
As a first-generation student, I had no idea what to bring to college. No clue. I brought no cleaning supplies, but two boxes worth of unhealthy snacks.
These are the 27 things you actually need as a college student right now.
27 Things Every College Student Needs:
This list is a generalized list. I also have an essentials list of things college students need. But this list is what most students should have from move-in day, class, to at home.
I feel that one huge list will slow readers down on mobile, which most of you use. At the bottom of this post, I have every single essentials list I’ve written so far.
Having a laptop is mandatory in the 21st century, especially in 2021 with online classes. There are very few ways to get out of not having a laptop. This is what college students need the most! Having a laptop, especially with online classes, are absolutely necessary.
My favorite laptop to recommend to college students is the Apple MacBook Air. I had a long call with Apple to ask whether I should buy the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. They told me that the MacBook Air is perfect for college students because it has a long battery life, perfect for opening many windows, and great for streaming
This is pretty obvious. In college, it is you and your backpack against the world. A nice backpack for a college student has a laptop sleeve, a section for notebooks and supplies, an outer pouch for miscellaneous items, and a side bottle for a water tumbler or bottle.
I currently have the NorthFace Borealis and it is the best backpack I have had so far in college. It comes with more than enough space for my laptop, notebooks, and other items.
I can not go anywhere without my AirPods. I love them! Every college student needs to have some form of earbuds/AirPods with them at all times. Studying can be difficult in nosy cafes and listening to lectures online is going to be hard.
4. Water Bottle
Everyone, in general, should keep a water bottle on them. Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to gain energy. Walking around campus and studying can seriously drain your body. Keep a water tumbler or bottle with you most of the time.
Hydro Flasks are some of the best water tumblers out there. They keep liquids warm or cool for hours.
I can not recommend getting a planner enough. A planner has saved my life and grades since high school. Planners are the easiest ways to help you stay organized in college.
One brand I adore is Ban.do. I will be a fan of them forever. Ban.do has some of the best planners out there. Even if Ban.do isn’t your style, then at least get a planner.
Pens and pencils are must-haves for college students. It’s also vital to have a pencil case or at least a compartment in your backpack to hold all your items. I recommend using pens to take your notes because of how quick it is. Instead of dealing with lead breaking or needing to sharpen your pencil, a pen can last longer. There also erasable pens for those who would want to erase and not strikethrough notes.
7. Pepper Spray
Safety first! One of the main things you need to have on your key chain is pepper spray. You have no idea how important it is to have it so you can protect yourself on and off-campus. Keep yourself prepared with a keychain that has pepper spray!
8. Long Phone Charger (or more than one)
Another thing you need to have is a long charger. There is nothing more annoying than having to move because your charger can’t reach where you are sitting.
Apartment and dorm rooms often place outlets in the weirdest places so it’ll be hard to be on your phone while it’s charging. You should also have more than one charger with you. One to carry around on campus and one to have that stays at home.
9. A nice hoodie
Hoodies are surprisingly essentials for college students. I believe that every college student should have one nice hoodie that can last all throughout college. Hoodies are a quick way to dress when you are running late to class and keeps you warm!
Aerie has some of the most comfortable hoodies on the planet. I am not kidding when I say this. Aerie has hoodies just for being cozy and comfortable. I always buy my hoodies from them!
10. A fluffy blanket
Blankets are a must for students. I love having tons of blankets in my apartment because I’m always cold but sometimes I don’t want to wear a bathrobe or jacket.
Blankets also are great to have when you’re just chilling and not doing anything. They also are great for decorating your living area. BTW, fleece blankets are the coziest!
11. Backrest Pillow
This item is often not on college student essential lists! Backrest pillows are the least talked about things every college student needs. Backrest pillows do exactly what they sound like: they allow your back to rest. It’s great if you have back pain from sitting at your desk all day.
As someone with back problems, I can ensure you that having a backrest pillow has helped me out with pain (and yoga).
12. A quality bed set
You should aim to have a quality bed set that lasts you a few years. They tend to be a bit pricey but should last a long time. A bed set not only helps decorate your bedroom but helps you sleep better. The last thing I want is to see under a rough blanket after a long day in class.
This quilt set is the closest to my current bedding in my room right now. Unfortunately, Target no longer sells the same one I bought about about a year and a half ago.
13. Nice sheets
Similar to the bed set, you need a nice pair of sheets. I remember sleeping on the hardest and roughest sheets when I moved into my latest apartment. I just came back from studying abroad in Greece and didn’t have any money, but I needed new sheets for my Queen size mattress. So, I went to the local Dollar Store and bought some sheets until I saved up for more.
It felt like I was sleeping on plastic! It was worse because I had to be up for work at 6:00 the next morning.
Save yourself the trouble from the beginning and get yourself a nice set of sheets.
I bought these exact sheets from Amazon for my dorm when I was a freshman and loved it.
14. Bed reading lamp
Lamps, in general, are something every college student needs. But no one ever mentions a bed reading lamp. I have one that clips onto my bed. I can write and read from my bed without getting up to get to my desk.
This reading lamp is the exact one right next to me as I write this post. I use it all the time when I am reading books! Totally recommend it. It doesn’t even need to charge that long either.
15. A skincare routine
I started my skin care routine in high school. A lot has changed, but I learned to take care of my skin, especially with the stress of college and the hormones. Also, so many YouTubers who do “Things I Wish I Knew In my 20s” videos always end up saying they wished they took care of their skin better.
Do your research or go to a dermatologist and set a routine. Your skin is super delicate as well so be careful with skin care hacks from Pinterest and TikTok.
16. Any Hygiene Products You Currently Use
Simple: if you use a product at your home before going to college, bring it with you.
17. Mesh Caddy
Mesh caddies are one of the things that every freshman should have. Sharing a bathroom with someone was one of the hardest things I had to learn because I spent hours washing my hair and shaving. I could not leave any of my products in the tiny bathroom I shared either. So I used a mesh caddy to carry everything.
Also, those hard plastic ones hold so much water and get everywhere. Avoid them.
18. Makeup Mirror
Buying a makeup mirror changed my life. I love having more. I don’t even use it for makeup. It’s better than a compact mirror because it stands on its own. I use it to shave my face, take selfies, and put on makeup during my Zoom classes. LOL.
This mirror is the closest one I could find and around the same price of the one I owe right now. I bought it at TJ Maxx! this one from Amazon includes two different magnification sides!
19. Shower Gel/Body Wash
I don’t know why, but when I was a freshman I didn’t bring shower gel with me. Instead, I brought a bar of soap. Soap took way too long to lather in the shower. Most college apartments and dorms use showers, so make sure you bring a body wash.
20. Shower Shoes
Communal, suite-style, and shared bathrooms have one thing in common. You will be sharing the area with other people.
Shower shoes are essential for shared bathrooms for sure! One thing I learned during my freshman year was that there are so many germs in a shower and with so many people coming in them. It’s gross.
Buy shower shoes, like these, to prevent any weird feet germs from getting on your feet while showering!
21. Shower Rug
Unless you want to slip and slide after getting out of the shower, then you should have a shower rug. Shower rugs are vital for bathroom floors. They also can be part of your decor!
22. Towel Set
Towels sets are essentials for students. I loved buying the same color towels because they helped my bathroom decor. Also, towel sets usually give you every towel you’ll need to use. This set from Amazon includes 8 pieces: 2 bath towels, 2 hand towels, and 4 wash clothes.
Brooms sit as one of the most useful things every college student should have. I (need to) sweep every day in my apartment. In my dorm, I had to sweep so every other day. There is so much mud and dirt that sticks onto our shoes without us noticing. Like I mentioned before, I had back problems so it is a hassle for me to constantly bend down and use a regular dustpan.
Luckily, my roommate’s broom had a dustpan with a handle on it.
Get yourself a dustpan with a handle! It’s totally worth it!
Febreze air freshener, plug-ins, or whatever to make your living area smell better should be a must! College dorm rooms get smelly quickly. Apartments are just the same. They also can start smelling stale after a while if you don’t have a fan on.
Get Febreze to freshener the air and to air out your apartment or dorm.
One thing that sucked about living on campus is that every window was painted shut. No one could open a window unless they lived in an older building. So it was a hassle to get a smell out, especially after cooking or burning some food.
A microwave is one of the main things every college student needs. Whether you are in a dorm or apartment, you’ll want to have a microwave.
Want breakfast? Microwave it.
Want a snack? Use a microwave.
Need to defrost chicken and too impatient? Use defrost it in your microwave.
Every college student needs a stash of snacks around.
There is nothing more than I hate than not having enough snacks around. It’s so distracting, especially when I’m on a study break and want to eat something quick. I don’t want to cook anything; just microwave or open a bag.
Every week you should check out what snacks you have in your pantry and figure out which ones you might need to throw out or stock up on.
Finally, what do college students need the most?
Rest! A good night’s sleep.
You have no idea how many people I met think it is a competition to see who can get the least amount of sleep. It’s okay to take a nap or sleep. If you are exhausted and can’t focus in class, then it’s more detrimental than anything else.
Get your rest!
This blog post was a generalized list of things every college student needs!
My other lists of essentials for college students: