5 Off-To-College Essentials

So you’re finally heading off to start your first year at college. You’re probably thinking about your classes, your roommates – will you get along? – what your dorm will be like, how you'll make new friends, and about a million other things. The first few weeks are sure to be exciting and a little stressful. You can make the move easier on yourself by making sure that when you pack your bags, you include these five things:

1. New Laptop & Accessories

You’re really going to need this. These days, many of your assignments will be online through BlackBoard or another academic course site. You’ll have to register for classes online, write papers, do research….all of this requires a computer! And not only a computer, but one that works well and has all the latest capabilities. HP laptops are a good choice, because they’re compact, affordable, run the programs you need, and are even good for watching movies and TV (for those study breaks, of course). If you’re shopping for one now, take advantage of HP’s back to school deals by using a coupon code. Don’t forget to grab a laptop-friendly backpack, too.

2. Good Shoes

When you go shopping for your new college wardrobe, keep this in mind: you’re going to do a lot more walking in college. Inevitably there will be those days when you have back-to-back classes on opposite sides of campus. You don’t want to be stuck in shoes that look good and leave your feet feeling like they’ve just gone through a wood-chipper. Try to find a pair of shoes that is cool but also will be comfortable to walk a lot in. Casual shoes from brands like Puma and Adidas are a great choice.

Old Lady Tip: If your feet hurt from walking in shoes with little support (like Converse), try putting supportive insoles in them. No one can see the difference, but you can feel it!

3. Ear Plugs

Dorm room walls are notoriously thin. While you will have lots of late nights and party nights, there will be some nights when you want to just hit the hay. Maybe you have an exam in the morning, or a big game, or maybe it’s just been a long week. There’s nothing worse than hearing a party getting started in the next room right when you get comfy in bed. But with a good pair of ear plugs, you can get your beauty rest no matter what is going on. I like Mack’s earplugs the best – you can find them at most pharmacies. But be careful! Make sure you set your alarm volume to high when you’re using earplugs, otherwise you might not hear it.

4. Meds

College is fun, but it can be stressful too. Your body sometimes reacts to stress by getting sick, and usually at the most inconvenient times. When you live with your parents, they tend to have things like cough medicine on hand. But now you’re on your own. Don’t wait until you’re sick to discover you don’t have the medicine you need. It’s a good idea to make a little medicine kit to take with you to your dorm. Include things like Pepto-Bismol (for those dining hall meals…), Ibuprofen, cough syrup, and allergy medicine.

5. Twin XL Bedding & Mattress Pad

Of course, just to make your life a little more complicated, most college dorm beds come in a special size: Twin XL. They are like your childhood twin bed, but longer. That means you have to buy special sheets to fit on them. Luckily lots of companies have caught onto this and it’s not hard to find the right bedding. Try looking for back to school deals somewhere like Bed Bath & Beyond, and you’re sure to find Twin XL size. Another thing to get is a mattress pad. Most dorm mattresses are woefully thin. You can make your bed much more comfortable just by getting a mattress pad to go on top of it. Be careful you don’t get bedding that’s too comfortable, though – you may have trouble getting out of bed to go to class!

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