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Looking for a list of stuff to bring to college?

That’s great – I was in your shoes once too, and I want to take a break from writing about SAT prep tips and give you something a little more fun.

Something like a list of… the top 10 things to take with you to college!

If you’re reading this site, you’re probably either a high schooler getting ready to move out in the next year or two, or you’re a parent of such a child.

So listen up! This list could be interesting – plus, getting excited for these goodies can lead to additional inspiration to win college scholarships so you can afford all this cool stuff to bring.

10. A portable fan – for wonky A/C:

For some reason, fans in my college life always followed this rule: If you have one, you won’t need it. If you need one, you won’t have it. It’s the classic dilemma, but best to be on the safe side and bring a medium-sized floor fan to college so you can adapt immediately to any unforeseen climate-control difficulties.

There’s no night as long as the first night at college when you’re alone, without knowing anyone around you, in a 105-degree dorm room with broken A/C and you can’t sleep a wink before the first day of orientation. Less important if you’re going somewhere cold, but you never know what the weather’s going to do; a floor fan definitely makes my list of top things to bring to college.

9. A couple of your favorite movies – for hanging out:

You’ll notice a lot of the items on this list are designed to help make friends rather than study. That’s no accident; looking back, I see the start of freshman year as a crucial time period in which long-term friendships are built and memories are made, and you should bring some stuff to college that helps you accomplish this fun and exciting goal!

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I could watch my favorite movies (like Jurassic Park or the Indiana Jones series) over and over again, especially with friends who have never seen them before!

Movies like the Hunger Games are a mellow, simple, classic way for friends and couples to spend time together, and everyone appreciates seeing a great flick that they didn’t know about. Pick some of your more unusual favorites and bring them along to college. You can watch them on your laptop or maybe in the dorm common room. Don’t forget the popcorn :)

8. Closet hangers – because they vanish:

You’ll never have enough closet hangers in college, if you’re anything like me. Maybe it’s because of the cool vintage clothing stores that sprout up around colleges, or maybe it’s because I always raided the lost-and-found at the end of the semester (or maybe my bearded, guitar-playing roommate was stealing them at 2 am every night) – for some reason I always needed more hangers for my closet.

Bring or buy like 30, minimum. They’re cheap, and you’ll use them all eventually. Little things like coat hangers are the kind of stuff that you don’t think about bringing to college, because you have always had plenty at home, but you notice them pretty fast when they’re missing!

7. Comfy bedding – for homesickness:

College beds are notoriously small and uncomfortable.  That’s why bringing stuff like an amazing pillow, warm and fluffy comforter, and soft, high-thread-count sheets to college will go a long way towards reducing homesickness. When you have a warm, cozy nest to come back to at the end of the day, it’s hard to feel unhappy no matter how far from home you are. Plus, a comfy, inviting-looking bed makes a great place for your friends to sit in a cramped college dorm room!

6. As few old books as possible – for space and weight issues:

This one’s a toughy, and one I suffered from personally. The bottom line is, you should not take this kind of old stuff to college – college is about experiencing new things, not reliving your old ideas about life!

When I was younger, I not only loved to read (and re-read) my favorite books, but I loved showing off all the difficult, famous classics I had conquered at my young age. It was really an ego-trip: “War and Peace.” “Atlas Shrugged.” Sarte, Camus, Dosteoyevsky, Marx. You get the idea, heavy stuff. So I brought it all along with me to college to show off on my weathered old bookshelves in my dorm room.

Three days later, I was wondering what the point was, when I couldn’t fit all my new textbooks onto the shelves. It got even worse when it was time to move out at the end of Senior year, and I had hundreds of pounds of books alone.

Seriously – you’ll get enough books in college; no need to bring extras. Plus, no one is impressed by the books you’ve read, because they’ve all read them too! Better to talk about them, than to display them! Leave the extra books at home; take your ideas with you to college.

5. iPod and Headphones + foam earplugs – for all the stuff you don’t want to hear:

An iPod and some good headphones make a pretty good pair, and for any college kid, it’s essential to be able to listen to your favorite music on the go. But these items aren’t just for fun – they also have an important defensive function!

Hopefully these never get used for my intended purpose – covering up the sound of your roommate or next-door neighbor hooking up. It can be a pretty uncomfortable situation. But, sometimes there’s not much you can do about it, and you have a huge Chem 101 test in the morning.

Make sure you bring some sort of “sound-blocker-outter” (a highly technical term) to college; there are infinite other uses as well (studying through a party, making it clear you need to study instead of talk, jogging/gym use, scoring cool-points with new friends for your taste in music). Pretty much essential for anyone of college-going age to bring with them.

4. Hookah – for making friends:

OK – this is bound to be a controversial suggestion. Full disclosure: smoking is unhealthy under any circumstance, and hookahs are much worse for you than most students believe (because the smoke is filtered through water, it seems healthier, but by some measures, the harmful chemicals are even more concentrated).

However, there are many fun and wonderful things in life that involve at least some element of risk – like walking across the street, driving a car, flying across the ocean, or introducing yourself to a new person. Bringing a hookah to college can be one of those wonderful things, if you’re careful and aware of the risks.

If you keep your hookah smoking to a once- or twice- a month event, and don’t let it become a habit, it can be an incredible centerpiece for a social evening (check your college’s rules about where you can smoke!)

As a freshman in college, I never had any trouble gathering new friends in my room as I was the only one on the hall with a working tobacco water-pipe. It was one of those things that I brought to college just for the purpose of meeting new people, and it worked.

Parents – I don’t mean to seem irresponsible. I only make this suggestion knowing that most students will experiment with things in college that smoking a hookah pales in comparison to. Seriously. It’s my personal experience that with moderation, a hookah is a fun way for a group of college students to relax and bond. And it’s not as bad for you as binge-drinking.

That said, I have to repeat: Smoking is always harmful to your health. Make this decision with both eyes open. Hookahs do seem to make friends in a hurry, though, so it makes my list of stuff you should bring to college.

3. A cell phone + set day and time to call home – for family time:

I don’t have one myself, but dang does the newest iPhone look like an amazing way for kids and parents to stay in touch! 

I wasn’t the best about staying in touch with my parents, I admit. In my case, this was more about keeping them happy and confident that I was (mostly) staying out of trouble.

For other college students, they may feel lonely or incomplete without a regular family connection. I recommend setting a day and time for at least one good phone conversation a week – I used to use Sunday after brunch as my time – and sticking to it.

Regardless of who wants to talk “more,” parents or children, it will make everyone feel better in the long run.

2. An open mind – for the important things in life:

Ah, the classic college necessity. If you don’t bring an open mind with you to college, you might as well just pack up and go home, because the friends you make, the ideas you are introduced to, and the situations you find yourself in on a day-to-day basis in college will surely be vastly different than your high school experience.

Be ready to have your assumptions challenged day in and day out. Your roommate might be a nudist! Or a communist! Or an athiest! Or a Taoist! Your best friend might be gay! Or straight! Or bisexual! Your favorite professor might be obsessed with turtle sperm! Or stained glass in the 12th century! Or steel girders! You just don’t know what will catch your fancy, so an open mind is one of the things it’s essential to bring with you to college!

1. A functional laptop – for EVERYTHING:

I consider this one perhaps the single most-important physical things you can bring to college. Think about it – don’t know where to get nice bedding? Google it! Don’t know how to find friends? Search for student clubs on the college website! Don’t have any music or movies with you? Stream them for free! (all on your laptop!!)

Bringing a laptop to college enables you to easily obtain basically everything else on this list. It’s the age of the internet! And that’s not even getting into the school-oriented uses for a laptop: Research! Word processing! Spreadsheets! E-mail! Online scheduling! Whether you actually own a computer or not, you will be spending hundreds of hours in front of a keyboard during your college career. It’s going to be much more efficient in the long run to just pony up for your own reasonably-reliable chunk of circuits.

A college student without a personal computer is going to be fighting a serious uphill battle. What makes a computer the right item to bring to college? Portability is much more important that power, unless you’re a graphics design or computer science major. (I’m sure there are other majors that require a faster computer, but I don’t know what they are!)

A desktop is much better than nothing, but there’s no real good reason not to just go for a decent laptop. Most campuses have coffeeshops, outdoor plazas, and restaurants where you can work without getting trapped alone in your room. A decent, trustworthy laptop is definitely number-one of my top 10 things to bring to college!  

These are my top 10 things to take with you to college!

I spent a lot of time thinking about this list, and I tried to mention some stuff to bring to college that might often go forgotten!

This isn’t all-inclusive by any means (it doesn’t include “clothing,” for example, but maybe you’re the nudist and not your roommate :P). However, it should be a good start for your packing list! Here is another article on College Dorm Essentials that I think you will find useful as well.

Seems like a very good time to win some scholarships so that you can afford all this cool stuff, doesn’t it?

Don’t forget, if you have additional suggestions, you can make them in the comments section! And now, back to our regularly-scheduled SAT programming!

Additional Resources:
Toshiba Satellite Laptop
Factory-Unlocked iPhone
iPod and Headphones
Foam Ear Plugs
A nice pillow, warm comforter, and soft sheets
Bulk Closet Hangers
Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic ParkHunger Games, and popcorn
Floor Fan
Winning College Scholarships Video Course
College Dorm Room Essentials (Blog Article)

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