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College Essentials You Didn’t Know You Needed

What DO you pack for college? You already know the basics, like bedding, a laptop, and textbooks.

And then there’s a hidden list of essentials that you could probably live without but would eliminate daily difficulties when adjusting to college life, help you save time and headspace, and have less to worry about.

10 College Essentials You Didn’t Know You Need That Would Make Your Life Easier 

1. Dry Shampoo

When you’re going to need it: midterms and finals, or inevitable busy periods

We can’t stress this enough: find time to take a shower! The unshowered college kid is not a cute look.

That being said, college can get pretty crazy. Sometimes, you have a full schedule from day to night, and you have five minutes to freshen up before you move on to the next thing. If there is no time to shampoo and deep condition, you can’t go to classes or events looking disheveled. This is when dry shampoo becomes your best friend. It will get rid of that greasy look and give you hair that looks and smells clean.

2. Command Strips 

When you’re going to need it: when you move in or decide you need extra hooks to hang things from

Unfortunately, most dorms won’t let you drill holes in your wall. For this reason, it’s essential to have command strips on hand if you want to hang hooks or wall decor. 

3. Bed Risers

When you’re going to need it: when you move in and set up bedding.

Some dorm beds are a bit too low. It’s much more comfortable to get up on a roughly waist-high bed so that you don’t have to haul your entire body from the floor. Bed risers go under your bed posts, adding height to your bed and even providing extra storage space for things you need out of sight.

4. Handheld Vacuum

When you’re going to need it: during move-in and regularly when cleaning your room

A clean space helps you rest and study better. A handheld vacuum makes cleaning your dorm room easy even when tired. Also handy when you accidentally spill Cheetos dust on the carpet. You know it’s going to happen.

5. Foldable Drying Rack

When you’re going to need it: when everybody chooses the same laundry day (which happens more than you think)

A foldable drying rack provides a backup option for drying clothes on laundry day. There could be a long line for the dryers, or you need to step out while doing laundry. Maybe you need to wash one thing and need it to dry overnight.

Foldable drying racks will only take up a little space in your dorm. You can store them by hiding them under your bed, against the wall, or at the back of your closet. 

6. Laptop Lock

When you’re going to need it: anytime you might leave your laptop unattended (e.g., in your dorm room, in class, at the library, at a cafe)

Though college dorms are relatively safe these days, having a laptop lock on your most valuable item is still reassuring. 

These locks work the same way bicycle chains do–by securing the item to a large, immovable object. They’re useful when you’re by yourself in the library or a cafe and need to use the restroom or grab a quick bite to refuel.

7. Oscillating Fan

When you’re going to need it: on hot days, especially if there’s no air conditioning

You can’t go wrong with an oscillating fan for your dorm room. Some dorms have box fans, but they usually aren’t enough and can be incredibly noisy. Additionally, if you’re handwashing something you must wear the following day, a fan can help ensure it dries overnight.

8. Budgeting App

When you’re going to need it: daily, to track your expenses.

Detergent costs how much? You only appreciate your parents’ housekeeping skills once you live independently and realize how much of the budget goes to necessities like cleaning supplies.

Whether you get an allowance or support yourself, learning to budget your money in college will be necessary. You want to save money for food, bills, car insurance, manuscript printing, or even going out on a nice date. Allocate and track your money.

Keeping track of finances can be tricky. Thanks to budgeting apps like Mint and Wally, you’ll have an easier time. 

9. Virtual Mailbox

When you’re going to need it: receiving online orders, getting packages from home, if you have a side hustle/small business, your personal mail (bank, credit card, car insurance, healthcare, etc.)

There are high rates of mail and package theft in campuses all over the United States. This is common because college kids are usually away when mail and packages arrive, and someone can quickly swipe them from the doorstep. In most cases, there’s nothing the police can do to restore your personal belongings.

College mailrooms are also usually a nightmare—disorganized, with inadequate storage, and attendants nowhere to be found.

A virtual mailbox helps you keep your mail and packages safe because there’s always someone to receive and store your packages at the mailbox location. You can get the mail opened and scanned to view it right away on the app, keep the digital copy and get the original shredded or discarded. You can also schedule pickup and get it forwarded to another address.

If you’re moving from one housing situation to another throughout college, a virtual mailbox is your single address, saving you a lot of time and stress. If you stay in the area of your campus after graduation, you can even keep the address until after graduation.

10. Microsoft Office 365 

When you’re going to need it: every day!

Did you know that most U.S. colleges have partnered with Microsoft to provide free Microsoft Office 365 to students and educators? It’s true; you only need to sign up with your valid school email address. 

You get access to Excel, Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Teams, plus additional classroom tools. It’s a godsend for busy college students with tons of papers to write and presentations to prepare. 

Check These College Essentials Off Your List 

College poses a lot of new challenges. These essentials aim to help you avoid any additional inconveniences, no matter how big (like losing your laptop or important mail) or small (like looking good and feeling confident during finals week). By knowing what tools to pack, college is yours to conquer. Good luck!

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