15 Must Haves for New College Students

Going to college for the first time is a very exciting time in an individual’s life. That’s when they generally move away from home and get to be on their own. However, those changes cost a lot of money and students need to buy a lot of school supplies. Most students worry about what they need for school, but this helpful list gives students an idea of the 15 things that they will both need and want at college.


A laptop makes life as a student so much easier.  When students have their own laptops they can do everything on their own time instead of always trying to coordinate everything around the campus computer lab hours. Plus students can take their laptops to class which will most likely help them take better notes. And students can usually get a pretty good discount on a new laptop like on the Apple MacBook.

Lap Top Sleeves

Over the course of college there have been thousands of people that have damaged their lap tops because they’ve just been in their back pack without any sort of protection. So invest in a case or a sleeve to protect it. A laptop is a big investment and even though they make them better now, they still break easy.

Thumb Drive

A thumb drive is a really small piece that allows students to take their documents with them everywhere they’re going. Plus it can serve as a backup if a student has problems on their own computer they can effortlessly turn to the document contained on the flash drive.

Cell Phone

A cell phone is a must in case you haven’t already got the memo. Pick a phone that at least has text messaging but having internet on it is a great feature. So if a student wants a social life then they need a phone. Plus, sometimes students don’t have a phone in their apartment for one reason or another so having a cell phone is the best option.

iPod or MP3

An iPod can keep you company while you either ride the bus or walk through campus. And if you want to be anti-social this is a great way to keep people from talking to you. And you can even keep movies on it for that road trip over fall break.

Alarm Clock

Even though there is probably an alarm clock on your phone that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in an alarm clock. Having an alarm clock with an annoying buzzer set across the room helps even the laziest student get out of bed. And it’s a good idea to buy one with batteries because if the power goes out and you miss your calculus test at 7:30 A.M. you’re going to be in a pickle.


Textbooks can be expensive and honestly a waste of money. Students are lucky if they get back 25% of what they spent on them at the end of the semester. So students should buy used books if possible or copy the chapters that they need out of the reserve copy at the library. But before students buy all of their books they should make sure they don’t drop any of their classes and verify with the teacher what books are needed. Otherwise, the student will get stuck with a lot of books they don’t need.

Pencil & Paper

Even though this seems a bit old fashioned, students should carry a pencil and paper with them. Some teachers like to surprise students with a pop quiz and it can be a pain for yourself and your fellow students if you always have to try and borrow one from them. So take your own notebook and pencil to class, especially when in statistics or math class.


Having a printer is extremely nice if you have to write a lot of papers or do coursework online and bring it to class the next day. Computer labs aren’t always open so if you have a deadline for a project or term paper then you must plan ahead otherwise you’ll probably lose points or not be able to turn it in.


Most students are pretty busy between school and work, but a TV can be really nice to have in your dorm or apartment. There’s no better way to unwind from a long day than by watching a half hour TV show. Plus in today’s day and age many people can’t stand the silence and need a background noise in order to focus and do their best work. But don’t take a huge nice TV and surround sound system because there isn’t room for it and it might get stolen or ruined by stupid roommates.

Surge Protector

This is cheap but essential for every student to have. If the power goes out and you were working on that paper you could lose the paper and damage your computer.


Whether you prefer earbuds or actual headphones, don’t forget these when moving in with roommates. It’s courteous not to blast your music to all your roommates if you don’t want to hear theirs. By using headphones you can enjoy the music and your roommate can study for his calculus test.

Digital Camera

A digital camera is the best way to catch all of your memories whether it’s the crazy frat party, perfect date, or study abroad in Thailand. A camera is a must if you want to remember years from now what you were doing in college. But just remember that the higher the megapixels and the further it can zoom the better.


In those 1940s dorms the lighting usually isn’t very good, so it’s a good idea to invest in a lamp. Plus, if your roommate is sleeping and you’re trying to finish some homework late at night or early in the morning your roommate would greatly appreciate it if you turned on a lamp rather than the fluorescent overhead lights.


A calculator is important the higher you get in math class. Most math classes will either require a scientific calculator or a graphing calculator. Depending on the professor, some teachers will require their students to use the graphing feature frequently and others never. So before you go out and spend $150 on that fancy calculator, make sure you really need it.

School tuition and fees, housing, and everything else associated with college is expensive especially when students have to purchase a ton of supplies. Everyone always wants the biggest and best especially when it comes to gadgets, but in all honesty these are just suggestions that can make every students life easier. However, these items add convenience to their life but buying a cheap used one of these items will also work well. If you’re poor or just trying to save money then buy used ones at discounted prices. Going to college is expensive but there are ways students can save money and still get the 15 must have items for college.

Diane Johnson graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing, particularly about travel and online classes.

<image used with creative commons license>

Post a comment