Monday, June 13, 2011

College Shopping List, for the grads.

Here it is, my just-graduated girls. I remember having a difficult time figuring out what I needed/didn't need at college and what I needed to prepare before move-in day. Dorms are small, but here's a list (in my opinion) of what you might want to pack and some extra tips to consider. Hope this helps on your summer shopping endeavors!

Necessary items:
  • Portable drying rack. I hardly dry anything in the dryer, so this was a must-have for me.Will save you from having to wait so long for your laundry to dry downstairs as well.
  • Towel wrap to wear out of the shower. Trust me, you'll want this when you're getting ready to go out with your friends.
  • Storage boxes/bins/etc. You'll want to keep everything organized. I even labeled some of the boxes so I knew exactly what should be in them.
  • Bed risers.
  • Notebooks. No more high school binders, think about getting a couple 3 subject ones to separate between your Tuesday/Thursday and your Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes.
  • Highlighters, pens, pencils, post-its, page markers, ruler, stapler/staples, you know the drill.
  • Foam mattress pad. Seriously, I didn't think a dorm bed could be so comfortable.
  • Swiffer. If you have wood floors like I did AND you have long hair, this is quite necessary.
  • A id wallet (I recommend the Vera Bradley ones) to hold your college id, debit card, and keys to quickly slip in your book bag before class. You won't want to drag around your purse all day.
  • A quality, sturdy book bag. North Face is the most popular on college campuses right now, but just find one that will easily tote all your books and your laptop.
  • Laptop case. Also vital.
  • A good planner. The ones they give you for free on move-in day are crap. I'm still using my Lilly one that I bought in August, they are the best for planning out your week!
  • Photo paper, to print recent pictures you've taken at college that you might want to put up in your room.
  • Plenty of blank cds and memory sticks. I recommend buying an external hard drive to store anything that you don't want on your computer. Make sure you also clean up your folders on your comp so everything is organized when you get there. I make a new folder for every semester, and then additional folders for each class. Helpful, people.
  • Fan. My dorm was always smokin' hot, so definitely consider bringing one.
  • Earplugs. If you're a light sleeper like me, I can't stress this enough.
  • Large duffel bag, a couple bathing suits, and a beach towel. For those unexpected weekend trips!
  • Rain jacket, umbrella, and rain boots. You'll be thankful on rainy, stormy days where you have to trek across campus.
  • One of those Turvis Tumblrs. I used mine all the time to load up on caffeine before hitting the library.
  • A couple food storage containers. I ended up bringing way too many, so just a couple will do.
  • Zip-loc bags, wet wipes, tissues, and paper towels.
  • Cleaning supplies for your fridge, your computer, and if you'll have a suite, your bathroom.
  • Extra ink toner, computer paper. But make sure you take advantage of your school's printing allowance, I made the mistake of not using any of my allowance until probably the last month of classes.
  • Lint brush, sewing kit, and safety pins.
  • Coffee mug/maker. I actually ended up bringing my coffee maker home and instead used a coffee press every morning, but bring what works for you!
  • Thank-you notes, cards, envelopes, stamps, and a list of addresses. I'm a big note-writer, so I bought a ton of stationary, but you'll want some things on-hand to send to your family and friends.
  • Brita water filter. My roommate and I used this thing to death.
  • A jewelry/accessory rack to hang in your closet. I used it to store my belts and scarves.
  • A throw blanket and a lap desk, especially if you think you're going to study in your room. I ordered a car monogram to put on my lap desk, just to personalize it a bit.
  • Extra toiletries. I stored mine in one of those ottomans you can find at Target or any home store.
  • Small ironing board and iron. I really didn't use mine all that much, but it's good to have just in case. The ironing board is also great for making forts during exam time when you should be studying. Hah.
  • If you're only going to bring a few pairs of shoes to school, these are the ones that you absolutely need: a comfortable pair to wear to class, flip-flops that you don't care about getting wet, a good pair of running tennis shoes, a pair of black pumps, cowboy boots, winter boots (not uggs, perhaps riding boots), wedges for more casual occasions, and fancier sandals.
  • Nail polish stash. You'll make instant friends.
  • A satchel. You'll want one.
  • Yoga pants to throw on for class cause norts just don't cut it in the wintertime.
  • A stash of sports bras. You'll live in these.
  • Order checkbooks. Once again, especially if you're going Greek.
  • Power strips and extension cords to hook up all your electronics.
  • A hamper/laundry bag that's easy to tote downstairs and to-and-from home. I think I bought three, actually. Probably over-the-top, but I can't stand wearing dirty clothes.
  • Good headphones. For the gym, library, etc.
  • Book light.
  • Chip clips and a coozie.
  • Plastic hooks to hang your jackets/purses/etc.
  • Dry-erase board with markers. Get this cheap.
  • A journal. I kept mine on my nightstand, right where I could get to it in the morning or before bed.
  • Instead of buying all your books from the student store, check out My suitemates told me about this site, and I'm hooked. Saves SO much money.
  • Monogram your towels, especially if you'll have a hall style bathroom. It makes keeping up with them a lot easier.
  • Personally, I hate the look of those rolling desk chairs. Try covering in a cute fabric in your room colors! (This also goes for a DIY bulletin board).
  • Instead of bringing hangers from your closet at home, buy those thin velvet hangers you can find at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. They are great for saving precious closet space!
  • I can't stress this enough, you don't have to bring a full set of plates, bowls, cups, and utensils. I bought so much dinnerware for my future apartment, thinking I would bring it just in case for my first year, and boy was I wrong. I recommend bringing a couple of each.
  • If you're thinking about joining a sorority, you're going to get more t-shirts than you ever thought imaginable. I bought one of those rolling plastic stacking drawers, just for t-shirts, and it also served as my nightstand. (Hint: just bring a few of your high school t-shirts because you really won't wear them, except for bed or maybe as work-out attire).
  • On that note, only bring clothes that you will wear. Why I decided to bring every color J Crew t-shirt I own who knows. I probably only wore 1/3 of my closet the whole year. Make sure you pack layers, invest in some cute going-out clothes, dresses for football games, Nike shorts, and bring things that you can mix-and-match.
  • Check out stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Homegoods every week. They are constantly getting new shipments in and you'll want to snatch them up early before everything gets gone. Also remember that not everything in their "college section" is worth the money. Think of what you'll use after this year and what you'll want to have in an apartment or house someday. I found some great deals at these places though for frames and desk items.
  • Shop at Target for some things. Almost everyone is going to go there for bedding, lamps, etc. so think outside the box. You can even make your own curtains and pillows, and look at stores online for bedding.
  • Choose your colors wisely. Will you really be happy living with bright orange things all year?
  • Bring a watch, or a couple. I found out how convenient they are, so you don't have to pull out your phone to check the time while you head to class.
  • I never wore much jewelry in high school, but boy do girls lay it on in college. Stock up on some statement pieces that will instantly dress up an otherwise boring outfit.
  • Come up with a storage option for your shoes and your hair accessories. I stored my shoes under the bed in two big pull-out drawers, and organized my hair things in a box, separate from my makeup. You could try hanging your shoes, but I couldn't bare to use any room in my closet that wasn't for clothes.
  • Unless you really want to bring iPod speakers, just use your computer for playing music. Saves space.
  • Think about getting a big canvas storage bin for your textbooks. I put mine under my desk, so my books wouldn't be thrown around all over the room.
  • Buy a cute lamp. You will never use those bendy ones after your first year.
  • Try to make your space as homey as possible, look for big photo frames that will dress up those god awful blank walls.
  • Store your necklaces on a jewelry holder so that they won't get into a tangled mess.
  • Think about getting a cover for your laptop; skinit has great options. You'll be carrying that precious thousand dollar thing everywhere.
  • I used cute place mats to line my desk drawers, and I even put one on top of my dresser so it wouldn't get scratched. Dorm room furniture isn't the best quality.
  • If you're going to school close to home, switch out your clothes by season. You don't need a winter coat in August, and take those summer shorts home over fall break.
  • Take extra ribbon, pledge hooks, and tape move-in day. It's a crazy, long day in itself and you don't want to be running out to the store every five seconds.
As I think of more things this summer, I'll add to the list. It's a bit scattered, but I hope you've found it helpful! If you have any questions about anything or want any more advice on college shopping in general, just leave a comment.


  1. this list is fantastic! I was thinking of doing something like this towards the end of Summer. You covered everything you need for college!

  2. this list is SO true. Love it Julie!

  3. I like it Julie! great list and great tips.
    College Storage


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