It’s mid-August and that means time to pack for college (or unpack, if you’ve just arrived). What do you need to take with you? Some needs are obvious: clothes, books, computer, pens, etc. But there are other items every dorm room should have, things that you might not realize would be useful until you really need them. So, if you’re still packing, don’t forget to include the following. For those already arrived on campus, make a trip to the store and fill any gaps before the semester gets too busy.
Basic Cooking/Dining Utensils
Even if you’re on a meal plan, it’s good to have some basic cooking and dining equipment. You might have times when the dining hall isn’t open or maybe you just have a craving for homemade mac and cheese. You won’t need anything fancy, but here are some basics to choose from, depending on what you like to cook and eat: cookie sheet, medium size pot, frying pan, casserole dish (can double as a mixing bowl if it’s a large size), spatula, large spoon (can double as a ladle), a few durable cups or mugs (you’ll use these most, if nothing more than to have a glass of water now and then), and disposable plates, bowls, and utensils. All can fit neatly in a small storage container to be stowed in a closet or under a bed.
Stapler, Staples, and Paper Clips
While many professors accept papers submitted electronically, there are still some who want a hard copy of any writing assignments. If your work is more than one page, you’ve got to hold those papers together somehow. When printing on campus at the library or a student center, you may find staplers or paperclips available, but you may not. A mini stapler and a pack of paperclips are easy enough to slip into a backpack, purse, or messenger bag. It’s also a good idea to get both a stapler (with staples) and a set of paperclips. Some instructors can be picky about submissions.
I made the mistake of forgetting these my first semester of college. I didn’t miss them for a while, but one day a package came in the mail and I had no way to open it! You likely won’t use scissors every day, but regular tasks like opening things and cutting loose threads from clothing are tough without them.
Sewing Repair Kit
Even if you aren’t interested in making major alterations or repairs to your clothes, everyone has a loose button from time to time. Why buy a new shirt when you can stitch the button back on in a matter of minutes? From buttons to hems to small tears, you can save yourself a bundle with fixes that don’t require much sewing skills.
First Aid Kit
When you have a cut or a cold, the last thing you want to do is run to the store to buy some bandages or medicine. You can find cheap kits with bandages, alcohol wipes and antibacterial cream, but don’t forget to pick up common over the counter medicines (which don’t normally come in those kits). Be sure you have cold medicine, cough drops, antacids, and painkillers.
USB Flash Drives
While you may, and probably should, use cloud storage to back up your files, a simple flash drive is often a fast solution to print documents on the go and take presentation files to class. Make sure, though, not to use it as your only method of storing your files. Have everything saved in at least two locations. Because flash drives are small and portable, it’s easy to lose them.
At some point during the school year, something is guaranteed to break or tear. You may get a hole in your backpack or perhaps your desk wobbles because one leg won’t sit evenly on the floor. Strong and durable, duct tape will make your fixes last a long while.
While college is about learning and internships and activities, don’t play absentminded professor and forget about the little things that make everyday life run smoothly. For current students and grads, please share in the comments: What did you pack for college that you found especially useful? Was there anything you forgot to pack as a freshman?