Here at Smart Student Secrets we’re all about getting the most out of the least.
When most students shop for college they get a bit over enthusiastic. They end up with piles of stuff that never gets used. Despite that, they still miss some essential supplies and end up needing to go out shopping a second time.
In a previous article we went over the problem in more depth. You can read it here:
The goal for college shopping should be to buy the minimum to get you started. Get what you need for the first week. After that, you’re going to know what you’ll actually use. When you know, you can go and finish your shopping up later.
After publishing this article we got a message from a reader asking:
“So… What is the bare minimum for college?”
Well… that all depends.
Naturally, every student needs different things based on their own lifestyle. Aaron may be able to live without food for a few days (because he’s apparently crazy enough to like fasting,) but anyone less crazy would probably want some.
When you’re asking this question, start by looking at your own life.
Some students need medications.
Some students need a special kind of pillow.
Some students need a car.
What are your needs?
No… not just what you’d really like. Think about your actual needs. Do you really need a car? Probably not unless you have to commute to school or work.
Do your best not to mix the essentials up with the luxuries. Sure… you can bring luxuries but don’t get mixed up thinking they’re essentials. If you don’t already own it then it’s probably not essential.
You’ll never find a person with a list capable of answering what YOU need. That’s a complicated question.
You will find plenty of opinions about what those essentials should be. That’s what most of the students asking this question are expecting (and it would be rude not to deliver. :P)
Electricity is your friend. Don’t underestimate the value of this oft-forgotten friend of the college student. Bring at least one surge protector.
Dorm room outlets are unpredictable. Older colleges sometimes only have 1 or 2 sets of outlets in the main room. If you were to forget a surge protector then you’re asking for trouble. Your phone needs to get plugged in. Your computer needs to get plugged in. Your tablet or other something or another needs to get plugged in. Do you want a microwave? That’s another damn plug!
Get one surge protector as a minimum. Get two for the freedom to move out of a single corner. If you’re a generous roommate then go for three.
You will find someone to use them.
On that note:
BedPower just sent me a free BedPower to try out. BedPower is a clippable power source you can attach to your bed (or desk.) I don’t know about you but desk space is precious in my dorm. That makes BedPower a huge space saver because it clips to the side of the desk and leaves the precious table space open. (It also saves me from having to get on all fours and dig for my surge protector below my desk to take my laptop plug with me when I go.)
I was surprised how useful it turned out to be.
It has two regular outlets and two usb outlets for charger your phone, tablet, and other gadgets. It also has a 90degree plug that fits well behind stuff and doesn’t hog all your outlet space.
This is the kind of stuff that becomes super useful for college students. This is a major space saver. Table space is precious. You can keep your surge protector up there for easy access or you can stuff your surge protector under your desk and dread digging for it every time you want to bring your laptop somewhere.
Look for stuff like this. It takes silly little nuisances and eliminates them.
Bed Power was useful. Maybe I can convince them to send me a second review copy? Oh… boy I’m just going to get myself in trouble. If this sounds like something that could make your life a little easier then you can get yours here.
College is tough enough. Don’t make looking for power a challenge.
Remember these (for your roommate’s sake.)
Seriously… these are definitely bare minimum essentials. I know… some people aren’t obsessed with daily cleanliness (they should be) but this isn’t a bare minimum essential for you. This is a bare minimum essential for the rest of the world’s sake.
You’d be surprised how many college students forget the basics of cleanliness.
They go out in the same clothes for days straight.
This is a sure-fire way to not make too many new friends. Sure… there will be others like you that will forgive you but most students will be running in the opposite direction as soon as you turn your head.
A Few Weeks Of Easy Food
You have enough complications in school. Worrying about dying of starvation shouldn’t be one of them.
But don’t just bring any food.
Bring super easy to cook and eat food.
(Ramen noodles are the classic example.)
You don’t actually have to eat this food often. You can be careful to schedule your day to the cafeteria hours. You can get some real food later. This is just an “emergency” supply. (By emergency, I include days of exceptional laziness.)
I’ve gone many mornings without food because I missed cafeteria hours and was too lazy to cook something up. Don’t let this happen to you. Be prepared.
Stuff From Home
Don’t buy everything new for college.
I solved homesickness with a couple stuffed animals, a pillow, and a full schedule.
You’re going to be surrounded by new people. You’ll have a new routine. You’ll be seeing new things. You’ll be sleeping in new places. You don’t need more new. You need more of the old stuff.
It’s comfortable having your usual stuff. Sure… it has disadvantages. Some of this stuff might not be useful. Some of this stuff might be a little embarrassing because who wants to be the grown girl who still likes sleeping next to her stuffed animals. 🙂
The secret is to balance it out. Bring a little bit of stuff from home. Bring the important stuff and bring some of the old essential stuff.
If you do one thing responsible in your first week in college, make it your laundry
You’ve got a lot going on in your life but consider this a lesson of life:
You’ll always need time to do your laundry.
Life will be throwing all kinds of challenges at you. It can be exciting to swat down all these challenges. It can also be stressful.
Doing your laundry isn’t exciting. It’s just life. Sometimes you need to do stuff. This is a routine. It’s comforting. It’s a way of winding down after a long day of doing the exciting stuff.
It will also help keep you from smelling. That’s a bonus.
You Don’t Need Much
I want to make something clear with this list.
You don’t really need all that much to kick-butt during the first few weeks of college.
Let me tell you (an inappropriate) true story…
It was high school Spanish class…
I was a Senior in a class of Sophomores. There was one other Senior in the class. Best of all –
She was smokin’ (as the old folk say.) She was gorgeous. 10 out of 10. Tight jeans. And she always sat right in front of me in class (gulp.)
We were the only Seniors in the class. By default… that made me the coolest guy there… And trust me… I’m never the coolest guy there.
But we’d talk. Sometimes in class she’d lean over. I’d continue to pretend me importa la espanol stuff pero… Seriousamente… 😛
Sure… I’d show up to class. But my brain rarely stuck around for the lecture. And that’s why you might not be surprised I was getting a C- in class.
It’s funny how that stuff that distracted me in highschool wasn’t so problematic in college where I took a double course load and still scored near the top of my class…
You don’t need to be perfect to score near perfect.
You just need to know how…