4 things every new college student thinks they need vs. 5 they actually need

You’ve been accepted to Regent, have enrolled in your classes, and are excited to start your college career. Now, you just have to get everything you need to succeed. Getting what you need for college is a very long and tedious process, not to mention moving it all in. Here’s a list of four things you think you need (but not really) and five you actually need.

4 things you think you need:

1. Lots of Clothes/Shoes/Accessories (for students living on campus/away from home)

I live by the phrase “better safe than sorry” when it comes to packing, which leads me to overpack and bring way too many things to college. I always bring a ton of clothes (which take up a lot of room in my car) and barely wear half of them. When it comes to deciding what outfits to take with you, be sure to only bring clothes, shoes, and accessories that you actually wear and use on a regular basis (and some nice dress and business clothes that you’ll need for a job interview or the Christmas Ball).

2. Buying All Your Textbooks

For my first semester in college, I bought all my textbooks ahead of time – and didn’t need to use half of them, which was a huge waste of money. I quickly learned to find out which textbooks were actually used in class from other students who had already taken the course. If going this route, be sure to check what textbooks you need first, just in case the course has changed which textbooks they use. Also, it is much cheaper to rent textbooks than buy them; if you can’t find the textbook you need available for rent, buy it used (and be sure to look for the textbook on multiple websites to compare prices). If you know someone who has already done the course you’re about to take or is taking it at the same time, ask them if you can borrow, rent, or buy the book from them. Even if you’re new to the school and don’t know many people yet, social media is a good resource to find people selling textbooks or ask if anyone is selling or willing to share their books with you. Unless you are certain that you’re going to read the whole textbook and want to refer to it after your course is finished, don’t buy all your textbooks (even if you do buy them, get them used).

3. Lots of Pleasure Reading Books (for students living on campus/away from home)

You’ll definitely have free time in college to do some recreational reading but probably won’t get around to reading as many books as you hope.  Go ahead and bring a few books with you to college (if you think you’ll read them), and then when you’re finished reading them, take them home during breaks because books take up a lot of precious packing space when May comes around.

4. Bathroom Caddy (for students living on campus)

Good news: you have your own bathroom in your dorm room/apartment at Regent, so there’s no need to buy a bathroom caddy since you won’t have to lug your stuff out of your room, to the bathroom, and back.

5 things you actually need:

1. Notebooks

I know, most people prefer to take class notes on their laptops nowadays, but not all professors allow this; some professors have a “no laptop” or “no electronics” rule, so you’re going to need to write out your notes. One of the reasons professors have this rule is that studies have shown you learn and retain more from lectures and notes if you hand-write them. You have to actively think about what they’re saying and summarize it in your own words, in addition to the fact that it requires more time to write them (which gives you even more time to think about what you’re writing, rather than simply dictating what the professor’s saying and pressing keys on your laptop). Even if your professor doesn’t ban laptops from the classroom, I’d advise you to write your notes by hand; if you’re worried about missing points on presentation slides because the professor goes through them too fast, don’t be. Regent’s professors tend to email their class the slides or  you can ask your fellow classmates to compare notes. If you know how to write in cursive, this will also help the handwritten note-taking go faster than writing in print.

2. Planner

If you want to stay organized, make sure that you get all your assignments in on time, and not miss any fun activities, get a planner.  By keeping your planner up to date with everything that you need to do or go to, you will have a less stressful college experience since you’ll actually know what’s going on.

3. Rain Boots

If you haven’t lived in Virginia Beach, you should be warned that it rains a lot and that certain areas on campus can flood severely. Hurricane season has already started, so if you don’t already have rain boots, go buy some before coming to campus – you are going to need them.

4. Kitchen Appliances: Toaster Oven/Slow Cooker/Blender/Coffee Maker (for students living on campus; add microwave to the list for those living in the Village)

While both the Commons and the Village have fully furnished kitchens in every dorm room/apartment, the aforementioned appliances are not included; thus, if you want to be able to make toast, throw food in the slow cooker, brew coffee, or blend smoothies, you’re going to need to bring these appliances with you.

5. Cleaning Supplies: Vacuum/Broom/Bleach/Clorox Wipes for bathrooms, etc. (for students living on campus)

In my experience, few people bring vacuums and end up having to ask their RA or people on their hall for a vacuum. So you don’t have to track down an available vacuum, just get your own small vacuum; of course, getting your own vacuum might mean that other people will find you to use it, but at least you have one and don’t have to frantically look for a vacuum come room inspection (when everyone else is doing the same thing). You’ll also want to make sure you have everything you need to clean your dorm, because it gets dirty really quickly -even with just a couple people.

Other miscellaneous dorm things (for students living on campus)

Every window in your dorm room/apartment has blinds, but they don’t completely keep the sun out.  If light wakes you up easily, be sure to get blackout curtains for your bedroom (and living room if you plan on having people stay over at some point).

Don’t forget shower curtains and liners as well, in addition to bath mats and storage for the bathroom.  While some dorm bathrooms have shelves, both rooms I lived in didn’t, so I needed to get a drawer storage container to store some of my stuff (you can get these at places like Walmart or Bed Bath & Beyond). The bathroom sink does have a cabinet underneath it, but when you’re sharing that with other roommates, you’ll need more storage space.

You’ll also need to get a towel rack or hooks to put on the bathroom door for towels, since there are sometimes not enough included for the number of people living in the room.

If you’re moving to college, when it comes to packing, less is more. You don’t need as much as you think; what you really need is to conserve packing space because you’re basically moving into an apartment. If you’re a commuter, you obviously won’t need to get nearly as much stuff since you’re not moving.

Hopefully this list will help you in your shopping for college. Good luck, congrats on making it this far, and we’ll see you in a couple weeks!



Natalia Mittelstadt is a contributor to the Daily Runner.