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9 Surprising Essentials Your College Freshman Needs This Fall

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Steve Pomeranz, Freshman College

If you have kids or grandkids preparing to go away to college for the very first time, here are some ideas of what to buy or bring and more importantly what NOT to buy or NOT to bring to the dorm room.

This info comes from the personal finance blog: GetRichSlowy.org

What To Buy Or Bring

Freshmen really need just two things—a good mattress topper and a laptop.

I can vouch for the mattress topper. As an aside, recently one summer, I went to a guitar workshop outside of Nashville and was put up at the dorm of Middle State College. The mattress was covered in plastic and the sheets provided were paper-thin. And I was NOT happy. So get them a good mattress topper.

What Can You Buy, Then?

Before you shop, find out what the college forbids; candles, space heaters, electric blankets, and halogen lights are common.

Have your student check with assigned roommates about appliances (who’s bringing a fridge or microwave?) and color scheme if they want to set one. Know the dimensions of the room and the size of the bed. And most of all, know your budget. Not everything has to be brand new.

So number one, a good mattress topper.

Number 2, a laptop, of course. This is probably the appliance they will use the most, so get the best one that fits your budget.

One or two fitted sheets in the correct bed size, plus pillowcases. Most students don’t use top sheets, so they are probably unnecessary

Comforter or duvet with washable cover. Emphasis on washable.

Towels that stand out or are light enough to be marked with a permanent marker is smart, also shower sandals are a good idea

Power cord with surge protector and USB ports.

Basic first aid kit.

Easy-to-use storage. If it’s a lot of work to get something out, your student won’t, so make it easy access.

Reading pillow with back support for studying in bed.

Area rug. Floors are often hard and cold.

Comfort items. Like a favorite blanket or a picture of the dog, something from home that will make the space a bit more personal.

Here Are Seven Items you can skip:

  1. Don’t waste desk space or, worse, store it under the bed. Printers are plentiful on campus. With wifi readily available they should be able to print from most college computers.
  2. Students may watch on laptops or on TVs in common areas or in someone else’s room. Bonus: Gets Your teen out to meets others.
  3. Small spaces don’t require powerful speakers; earphones or earbuds are may be a good idea and respectful of roommates.
  4. Some colleges bar freshmen from having cars on campus or limit their parking. You also may save on insurance by keeping the car at home.
  5. If you bring it, you must store it. Collapsible storage bags with zippers instead.
  6. Toiletries to last until May. Bulk buying may save money, but you need storage spac
  7. Duplicates of anything provided by the college, such as a lamp, wastebasket, desk chair, or dresser.

Items left behind when students pack for the summer are telling. Luke Jones, Director of Housing and Residence Life at Boise State University, sees unopened food — a lot of ramen and candy — and stuffed animals and mirrors.

Jones says many students regret bringing high school T-shirts and memorabilia and some of their clothes (dorm closets typically are tiny).

I thought these were some smart, common sense ideas, so I wanted to share them with you as the college year gets underway.

I found them at getrichslowy.org.

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