18 things I wished that I packed for college

August is here, and it’s that time of year where christmas, halloween, and leftover 4th of july decorations are overfilling stores. It’s also the time of going back to school, or starting college. You might have everything entirely packed as you eagerly countdown seconds until move-in day, however there may be a few things you might have missed that I found myself wishing I had (and ended up having to run to the store to buy) that you might need and/or want.

1. Extra headphones.

I found myself losing my earbuds so often and in the most inconvenient of times. On the bus, walking to class, in the library, but most of all at night-when my roommate decided to go to sleep at sometimes 1 or 2am when I had to be awake at 6am the next day. Pick some emergency ones up at the dollar store for situations like these.

2. Ziploc bags

This might sound like a given, but you would be surprised how useful ziploc bags can actually be. They prevented everyday items in my backpack from getting ruined when things like lotion or hand sanitizer would explode inside the ziploc bags. Possibly the best use of the bags was going to the dining hall and putting some extra slices of pizza, bananas, granola, and cereal in them and storing them in my backpack for later.

3. Small toolkit

After going out to the store to buy one so I could assemble a bookshelf, I became known as the “handy person” on my floor. I also found myself repairing my glasses with the smaller screwdrivers, as well as assembling any kind of furniture, or replacing batteries for literally everything.

4.  Tile

I actually owned this before I went to college, but ended up buying a second one for my wallet. This has been the best investment I have ever made. It is a key chain you hook on your keys (or can place anywhere) and from an app on your phone you can directly pinpoint on a map where your keys are, and it will play a song so you can find them. It has been an absolute lifesaver on mornings where I’m late and can’t find my keys.

5.  Microwaveable Heating Pad

Whether it’s cramps, you’re sick, you have sore muscles, or you just need something warm on those chilly nights, (where the heat conveniently was shut off by your sleeping roommate) having a heating pad you can heat up in the microwave feels amazing. You can even make your own stress relief one with an old tube sock and rice. Feel free to add essential oil to it (for de-stressing I like lavender and eucalyptus) and make your whole dorm room smell amazing!

6.  Ice pack/ Ice Cube Tray

Ice packs are great for days you want to pack a cool snack for studying, and ice cube trays are an essential to not drinking lukewarm water. Especially the ice cube that have molds that fit in your water bottle. Whether you have AC in your dorm or not (put some ice in a plastic bag in front of a fan for DIY AC), drinking something cold is a refreshing way to cool down (whether it’s water or homemade margaritas!).

7.  French Press

A good way to save the earth from those plastic K-Cups, and to have better tasting coffee is to use a french press. Make sure you have a microwavable mug to heat up warm water. French presses are pretty inexpensive and small enough to keep in a locker (if you’re an art or music major and have lockers in your buildings).

8. Power Strip with USB

Trust me, you WILL lose every single power adapter from outlets to USB, and so having one on your outlet all the time is so helpful. No installation is necessary and you can get them fairly cheap at Best Buy and other stores. I have had many days with a dead phone all because I couldn’t find the wall part to my phone charger. 

9. Stress Coloring Book & Colored Pencils

Put these in your backpack, and while you’re cramming for your finals, take a 20 minute coloring break to ease your mind and not stress out so much. It’s relaxing and a great activity to do with friends.

10. Musical Instruments

Whether it’s Ukelele, guitar, or your annoying 4th grade plastic recorder. Some of the best times I had my freshman year were playing instruments with people who lived on my floor. (Given, we were music majors) but we ended up making songs with PVC pipes and other random objects we had in our dorms, use your creativity!

11. Wrapping Paper & Double Sided Tape

Sometimes you’ll need to wrap presents, but it’s not likely. To spruce up your dorm in a non harmful way, use a command hook strip and put double sided tape on the hook side instead of the hook, then cover your wall with wrapping paper, and you have your own DIY removable wallpaper!

12.  Holiday Window Clings

I always saw everyone else’s cute holiday decorations for their dorms but never felt like I had the time to put all of mine up between 24 credit hours (in my first semester too, yuck!). My solution was window clings!!  They come off easily and if they ever leave colors behind, windex takes them right away. Perfect for the lazy but spirited, college student.

13. Lemon juice, Cinnamon, and Honey.

I found myself getting sick more frequently living in a dorm than I did living at home. To combat this I would drink airborne, but in addition I would make this concoction of lemon juice cinnamon and honey to soothe and relieve my sore throat.

1 tbsp honey

1 ½ tsp lemon juice

1 cup of water (I’ve found hot works better)

A dash of cinnamon


14.  Plants

Time to get some cut cacti or small indoor plants. Research shows that plants increase concentration and productivity by 15% so when you end up procrastinating, they’ll be there for you. Plants also reduce stress, and improve your mood. Also, if you’re feeling like you especially have a green thumb you could grow your own herbs and vegetables indoors all year if you want to spare a few trips to the dining hall.

15. Candles and Candle Warmers

For when your roommate isn’t the best smelling person around, or you want a sniff of hawaiian breeze when it’s freezing outside. Your dorm probably doesn’t allow candles for safety reasons, however with candle warmers, there isn’t a flame and your whole dorm ends up smelling like your favorite candle, in a safe way. Candle warmers are also good for warming up your coffee!

16. Garage Sale Finds

Want a cute chair or ottoman for your room? Don’t spend six kidneys at Bed Bath and Beyond, instead hit the yard and garage sales. I got some of my favorite furniture from graduated college students trying to get rid of their stuff. Check local ads for “college” when looking at sales.

17. Dressy Clothes

Whether you’re attending an event for your new sorority, splurging on a fancy restaurant, or decide to dress to the nines to go shopping at walmart, bring at least one set of fancy clothes for those occasions.

18. Batteries

When all the chaos of moving ensues, for some reason I always forget to buy batteries. You need batteries for everything. Flashlights, remotes, portable fans, and anything you might pick up along your college adventures, you will want both AA and AAA types.