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My Essentials for College Survival

College is certainly what you make of it, and can be a great experience. However, it's a huge lifestyle change and sometimes you just need some assistance from your favorite products to keep you happy, healthy, and functional. Some of my essential products weren't even things I initially brought to school with me, but were items I learned I needed during my time. In order to keep myself time managed and organized, I had essential school products that I used for academic purposes. I found items that were must-haves in my dorm room for lifestyle purposes, and some clothing that you may not think to pack with you.




Course Materials


A Good Bag/Backpack


I will forever be a Vera Bradley stan when it comes to high-quality backpacks and bags. My bags have been THROUGH it and they are just so incredibly durable and come in cute patterns. I've never had a bad experience at a Vera Bradley store either. They seriously have the nicest employees which makes me want to support them even more. I love the Vera Bradley tote bags, but during my commuting semesters I transitioned to the XL campus backpack!






Lanyard


I didn’t really wear my lanyard around my neck, but I loved my lanyard from Vera Bradley to hold my School ID, any important cards, cash etc., the lanyard part was perfect for finding it when it was deep into my backpack as well. I recently transitioned to the RFID lanyards as well which is the way to go when your around large groups all the time.


Laptop


This one is pricey, but I commend anyone who makes it through college without a good laptop. My Macbook is my entire life. I was also a Journalism/PR major making my laptop all the more important. We used laptops frequently in-classes and I also began taking notes in Google Drive especially with Zoom courses since everything was always changing. Sometimes, I would even put up the in-class powerpoint on my laptop while in class because I’m blind without glasses and always forgot them or couldn’t see out of them with a mask on my face anyway.





Planner


I highly encourage you to go out and spend money on a good planner. I definitely buy the pricer planners, but they are so worth it in my opinion. I love the Erin Condren Planners, Simplified Planners or The Happy Planner. I used my planners to keep track of my life events, daily schedules, class due dates and dates I was going to do the homework assignments. My planner organization skills always kept me on top of assignments and I would always be the first to notice a misconception in the syllabus based on my schedule organization. I also utilized my phone calendar as well. The more calendars and planners the better for my personal organizational needs.







Papermate Flair Pens


My AP lit teacher got me ADDICTED to the Papermate Flair Pens. I love color coding notes, assignments and courses. I only buy them off Amazon or when they are on sale because they are on the more expensive side.


Notebooks + Folders


Even if you take the majority of your notes on your laptop I would encourage keeping a few in your dorm room because you never know when you may need a notebook or a folder to keep yourself organized, take additional notes, or plan events.


Tip: If you go to a networking event, keep your resumé, business cards, paperwork etc., in an organized folder. It will definitely help you stand-out against others.



Dorm Living


Keurig


My absolute must-have is a Keurig. I love my tea and my coffee and enjoyed having access to both of those 24/7 in my life. Our campus “Sarbucks” was open for limited hours, and sometimes you just need a late night cup of tea. I also used my keurig to cook my oatmeal in the mornings or grab coffee on-the-go. I most certainly would not survive life without a Keurig.. dramatic maybe.. but its true.





Mini Fridge


In my dorm snack essentials blog you will find that a lot of my favorites required a mini fridge/freezer. I love keeping food like greek yogurt, veggies, string cheese, guacamole etc., on-hand at all times. My mini fridge/freezer was a great size for meal prep, snacks and keeping emergency food on-hand.


Dash Waffle Maker/Griddles


This is one I discovered post-COVID, but I would definitely take a mini waffle maker or griddle to my dorm room with me. Even if you couldn’t have it in your actual room, you likely have a shared kitchen you can cook-in and they are so useful to make so many different things. The Dash products are relatively cheap, good quality and mini, so you can definitely store them somewhere.





Water Bottle and Brita


I definitely did my fair share of buying water from the Dining Hall because I had a ridiculous amount of money to use. I ended up donating most of it to a food shelter when I graduated. I never really left my room without a water bottle of some sort though to make sure I was staying hydrated. Just be careful not to over-hydrate either or add some electrolytes to those drinks! I also kept a brita filter in my room to refill my keurig up with cleaner water. The cuter the water bottle, the more likely you are to drink out of it. I love to represent my love for Disney and Starbucks with those tumblers, but I also recommend having some durable water bottles that you won't care about tossing out as well. The Brita water bottles that come with a filter in them are also a great choice.


Lunch Box


Even if you dine out all the time, I still encourage packing a lunchbox because you never know when a busy day may call for one. Plus, you can keep leftovers from the dining hall in there if you don’t have time to run to your dorm in-between. The insulation should help with keeping the food of higher quality. I'm a huge fan of the fit + fresh lunchboxes as you can wash them super easily and a lot of them come with storage containers.





Reusable and Throw-away Utensils/Cups/Plates/Bowls


Look doing dishes in a tiny shared sink is not ideal. While I like to be environmentally friendly, I used my fair share of throw-away coffee/tea cups when I was running around. Paper bowls, plates and utensils were super convenient and Ziplock bags were essential for food storage which slowed food waste. In-terms of reusable items, I recommend target for all things cheap. They have 99 cent plates/cups/bowls etc., that are even microwavable and dishwasher safe.


Side note.. roommates do not appreciate food and unwashed days of dishes in a tiny shared sink in a suite life. Just use the reusable ones at that point.


Cup Cozy Holder


I didn’t always have a desk in my dorm room, and I like to be the hydrated queen with all types of beverages. These cup holders from Amazon are a complete gamechanger and helped me avoid spilling my beverages. I ended buying multiple and even purchased the deluxe version. They also serve a great purpose of raising your laptop if you need some angle assistance for Zoom.



Gymnastics and a smoothie are my favorite ways to relax after a long day of studying.



Extension Cords


There’s so many things you’ll need to plug-in and definitely not enough outlets to do it all. I usually brought two extension cords with me to school which allowed me to add in all my living essentials like a lamp, refrigerator, microwave and my electronics to keep me happy. Make sure you check your school's guidelines for extension cords as they can be specific to avoid electrical issues.


Hand Sanitizer/ Wipes


College is full of germs. Bring hand sanitizer and use it. Wipe things down and wash your hands. A lot of people get sick so frequently in college and it's so easy for things to pass through a dorm. I lucked out (knocking on wood as I type this) in undergrad, but we all see the news and I know so many people who were sick week in and week out.






Back Rest Pillow


I got this back rest pillow for Christmas from my Aunt during my freshman year and it was life-changing. I take it everywhere with me. It's comfortable to sit-up-in, sleep-on, and rest things against it when you need too.






Decor


You don't have to over-do the decor, but I love bringing things to make it seem homey, clean and well loved. A positive space produces your best work. I was never a library study girl, so I did the majority of my work in my room. Rugs, pillows, blankets, photos, and inspirational sayings are some of my favorite things to place in my spaces.







Wardrobe


Weather Boots


After my first week of walking around campus in the fall rain, I immediately went to L.L. Bean and bought a good quality pair of boots. I was tired of the rain soaking through my running Nike sneakers and knew I needed something a bit more durable for walking in gloomy weather and on wet leaves.





Raincoat


Along with the boots, I highly encourage a good raincoat. I purchased the raincoats in the school bookstore and genuinely love them. They are high-quality and definitely prevented me from getting soaked. They were even great in mid-afternoon Florida thunderstorms when I was in Disney as they are super lightweight for when it’s not cold out.






Warm Clothing


I went to school in New York, so I cannot stress enough the importance of having warm clothes. There were definitely evenings where I would be walking back from my 6 to 9 p.m. class in -7 degree weather. I vividly remember sprinting from one building to the next. Sometimes you have to adopt the mindset of being comfortable over fashionable. I can't think straight or function when I'm freezing and I get cold very very very easily. You also may not have control over your room temperature. I know some days it was so hot my roommates and I lived in sports bras and nike spandex in the dorm room, and other days we couldn’t get enough layers on ourselves. If you are in a colder climate, Invest in a good winter coat, buy some gloves and bring a winter hat. You won’t regret it at all.




I hope you all found a few new tips to help you navigate through this academic year. Let me know what essentials you bring to College in the comments below.

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I'm a communications professional, recipe crafter, content creator and 22 year old working her way to wellness. 

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