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Freshman Shopping List: What I Should Have Brought to College

Thanks to a little-known worldwide pandemic, my freshman year has effectively come to an end. As I reflect on the past 8 months, and especially having transferred both universities and states over winter break, it is easy for me to come up with several things I wish I could’ve done differently. Obviously, this topic could get kind of depressing if thought about for too long, so I decided to add a positive spin to it! The following list includes things I wish I had known to bring with me before coming to college, as well as some things I should have left at home. Hopefully this can save other incoming freshman from last minute Amazon Prime orders.

Sweatpants Against A Wall
Arianna Tucker / Her Campus

BRING: Gray Sweatpants

Truly the pinnacle of campus fashion. I did the math, and on any given day, you will see approximately 5 million girls wearing gray sweatpants. Invest in a cute pair that can go well with sweatshirts, cute tops, and the thousands of t-shirts you will receive during your freshman year. You simply won’t have the energy to look like a magazine college girl every day.

woman wearing blazer writing on dry erase board
Pexels / Christina Morillo

BRING: White Board Markers and Erasers

You will quickly learn that a preferred way of studying for many people is to write their notes on white boards in study rooms and walls. Regardless of whether you’re using them to solve equations or copy down all the bones in the human body, you won’t be able to do so without markers. Although study rooms are supposed to have a constant supply, many greedy students have a nasty habit of stealing them. Coming ready ensures that you will be able to write and erase in the colors and brands that you choose.

woman typing on a laptop
Pexels / bongkarn thanyakij

LEAVE: Printer

Okay, so I didn’t actually end up bringing a printer to my freshman dorm. But when I realized the summer before that you had to pay for printing, I started wondering if this would be a mistake. It wasn’t! The majority of professors will want your papers sent to them electronically. Both dorms I stayed in had a free printer in the lobby available to all residents, so I almost never payed for printing anytime I needed to. Save money and paper, and don’t buy one!

donut with pink sprinkles
Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

BRING: Well-Stocked First-Aid Kit

I have a story that goes along with this one. In September, I was taking a picture of a cute free gourmet donut I got from a complimentary donut truck that was visiting campus that day. While I was letting my phone eat first, I didn’t see a curb in front of me, and I tripped and fell in the middle of the street, skinning open my entire knee. I limped back to my room, where I realized I didn’t have any large Band-Aids or materials like hydrogen peroxide to clean my knee with. Luckily, a guy in my dorm helped me out with his own first-aid kit (thanks Luke!), and I went on being peacefully embarrassed with my donut (I didn’t drop it!!) and my disinfected injury. The moral: be prepared to be your own doctor, especially if you’re accident prone like me. You might be able to help a neighbor too!

Jar with lemon
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

BRING: Brita Water Filter

In both dorms I stayed in during my freshman year, you had to go to the basement anytime you wanted to fill up your water bottle. And unless you’re cool with drinking sketchy tap water, this can get old fast. Brita Water filters give you clean water you can keep in your fridge without having to descend 5 floors to get mediocre, room temperature water. The only downside is that you have to remember to fill it up, or no tasty water for you!

Anna Schultz-Girl With Arms Full At Gas Station
Anna Schultz / Her Campus

LEAVE: All that healthy food you just bought at Target

If you’re like me, you went to Target immediately after moving in and bought a ton of healthy snacks for your room. One week later, you go back to Target to buy a bunch of Cheezits, cookies, and candy. Some people are naturally healthy eaters, and I envy you. But know your weaknesses. After a long day of classes, the majority of people aren’t going to want to kick back with an apple. It’s college. Get some dang Oreos.

Pizza Grass Laying Down Festival
Charlotte Reader / Her Campus

BRING: Sunscreen

Imagine: you’re at a football game having a great time with your friends, when all of a sudden, you realize your arm kind of hurts. You quickly go to the bathroom to make sure you didn’t get burned, and realize that your entire upper body is red as a firetruck. Not that this has ever happened to me… but you don’t want to be the kid who has to sit inside for half an hour during a game so you can cool off and hydrate. Tans are fun, but do ya know what’s more fun? Not getting cooked while developing heat exhaustion!

Window Sun Curtains Plants Apartment
Anna Thetard / Her Campus


Dorms can be unreliable when it comes to air conditioning. In my most recent room, the vents jet out exclusively hot air between the months of November and March. My roommate and I’s solution was to open the windows when the heat became unbearable, but when it’s below freezing outside, that just creates a whole new problem. Do yourself a favor and invest in a nice fan, because you never know if you’re moving into a sauna or not.

The image is a rack of clothing
Via JamesDemers on Pixabay

LEAVE: Your Entire Dress Collection

To be clear, you should definitely bring maybe a few cute dresses with you, especially if you’re rushing. But I made the mistake of bringing every cute dress, romper, and jumpsuit I owned, and I wore maybe one of them all of first semester. Aside from maybe some performance majors, you are never going to be wearing the dresses you wore in senior pictures to classes. Even on weekends, you probably aren’t going to want to go out in something so nice.

For the high school seniors who are realizing that the next time they physically attend school they will be in college, I hope you keep these tips in mind. Goodbye freshman year. You were bizarre, but unforgettable. See ya never, dorm life!

Hi!! I'm a sophomore at the University of Kansas studying Strategic Communications with minors in Theatre and Spanish! I love all things media and thoroughly enjoy music, coffee, sea turtles, and Parks & Rec. SO glad you're here!! :)
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