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In the weeks leading up to my freshman year of college, I was obsessed with dorm room shopping. I mean, who wasn’t? After all, college is our first taste of freedom and independence, our first chance to move away from home and decorate our own space however we wanted to. Finally, the chance to have our own Pinterest-worthy room!
There was just one problem…I was on a budget. A very small budget, in fact. After all, moving 4 hours away for college isn’t cheap, and when you consider the rising cost of tuition, housing, supplies, books, and everything else? Yeah, I guess you could say I was trying to pinch my pennies.
However, there is a big difference between throwing your money away and making an investment, and when it comes to college, it’s all about investing in ourselves. That’s why I have put together a list of 5 must-have items worth investing in for college and why it’s worth it to invest more money in these items, rather than to take the cheap way out.
1) A Foam Mattress Topper and a Mattress Pad (You need your beauty rest!)
In the weeks leading up to college move-in, I was doing some dorm shopping with my mom when she threw a plush, $50 foam mattress topper into the cart. I gawked at it. $50!!! On just the mattress topper! And we hadn’t even gotten the mattress pad, sheets, or comforter yet.
I shifted nervously. I had been planning on just getting a cheap one.
“Believe me,” she said. “Those mattresses are going to be the most uncomfortable things in the world. You’re going to want a really nice one.”
And she was right. The few nights I spent without my foam mattress topper and mattress pad (during Spring Break interim housing) were the worst, most uncomfortable nights of sleep I’ve ever had in my life. I hadn’t realized just how big of a difference the two items had made.
So when it comes to dorm room shopping, a high-quality mattress topper and a mattress pad is a MUST. After all, with as much as you’re going to use it, it’s worth investing in a good one.
2) A Laptop (Do not take your dinosaur laptop. Just don’t do it.)
When I moved away for college, I had a lot more on my mind then getting a new laptop. After all, my old one still worked! Why would I bother getting a new one?
The thing is, that laptop was 4 years old and bulky. It was too heavy for me to haul everywhere, which meant I could never take it to the library or to class without my back aching from the stress. Even worse, it’s lifespan began to quickly dwindle as it consistently had a hard time connecting to the internet, began running slow, and couldn’t survive more than 15 minutes without being connected to a charger. It was time for a change.
So after I loaded up on some Amazon gift cards during Christmas, I bought myself a new laptop. The problem was, I wasn’t willing to make a huge investment in it, so it was a cheap laptop that only cost me about $130. While it worked great the first few months, I quickly learned that it could not handle the stress I was putting on it. There were several occasions where it said my memory space was completely full, even after I deleted all documents, pictures, and apps. This wasn’t even going to last me the rest of the semester, much less the rest of college!
So about a year after buying that laptop, I forced myself to face the facts and bought a new one. This time, however, I did my research ahead of time. I got recommendations from friends and professors, as well as a list of the computer requirements for the interior design program. Then during a sale, I swooped in and got the laptop I had been wanting (which had previously been too expensive for my budget) at $200 off!
This laptop was the Lenovo Yoga 710 laptop, which is perfect for me because it meets all the strict requirements of my Interior Design program! (Since we use a lot of architecture/rendering programs.) This means it has a ton of memory space and is even touch screen! One of my favorite parts is the rotating screen, which means I can change it from a laptop to a tablet at will. If you’re wanting to check it out, just click here!
Either way, a high-quality laptop is a must. Before buying one you may want to check and see whether your program has any computer requirements, but no matter what your major is, a lightweight laptop with good RAM and storage space is a must.
3) An Agenda (When is that assignment due again?)
I’m going to be completely honest: I’ve never understood the whole agenda/planner craze, especially when people spending $50+ dollars on them, in addition to however much the stickers, washi tape, markers, and whatever other specialty items they use to customize them. Call me crazy, but I think that’s just a huge waste of money. However, I do believe that a high-quality planner is a necessary investment in college, and there is a big difference between a $5 planner from the grocery store and a $25 planner you find online.
Believe me, I have used a $5 planner before…it was awful.
A good planner is one that’s not going to fall apart at the seams and can handle a lot of wear and tear. After all, by the end of the semester, that planner is going to help get you through 8 or more college classes. You’ll need to invest in a good one.
I currently have a To-Do planner, which I love because it’s just a place to write all of my to-do lists. This planner is fits me and my needs for college because I have less assignments than a traditional student because they’re all big projects, rather than smaller essays, worksheets, etc. I’ve tried using both an agenda and a to-do planner, and I like the to-do planners much more.
However, most students will find themselves in need of a traditional agenda. For them, I highly recommend a Bloom Daily Planner. From address pages to vision boards to monthly calendars to week-by-week plans, this planner has everything a college student needs to stay organized throughout the semester, which is essential to staying on top of your classes! To check it out, just click here.
4) A High-Quality Backpack that will Last Your Entire College Career
Throughout the years, I’ve been through my fair share of backpacks. I’ve tried so many brands, even the ones that people say will last a lifetime, but they won’t last me more than a year or two before ripping or looking extremely worn out. It was extremely frustrating, especially when I was investing my money in them with the impression that they were going to last me more than a couple of years.
So when I was backpack shopping for college, I decided to do a bit of extra research before hand, and found that the High Sierra brand had a ton of great reviews. It was a bigger monetary investment in a backpack than I had ever made before, but I decided to take my chances. I bought it and…
I loved it.
I’ve been using my High Sierra backpack for two years now, and it still looks brand new. (That’s absolutely insane!) It has the perfect number of pockets and plenty of space no matter how many books I need to take to class. There’s even a mesh pocket on each side, one of which I use for an umbrella and the other my water bottle, so that they’re both within easy reach at a moment’s notice.
The best part, however, is the padded back and shoulder straps. They have been a lifesaver for me, especially on the days where I’m carrying my laptop AND my textbooks in my backpack. Now I couldn’t imagine considering a backpack that doesn’t have them.
The High Sierra backpacks come in plenty of designs, and even a few different styles. You can check them out by clicking here.
5) A First Aid Kit (because you never now when a cold is going to hit)
For as long as I can remember, I have been guaranteed to get a cold every year. I mean, except for this year, because I got a cold in the winter AND the summer! Great…
The point is, you never know when a cold is going to hit, and if you’re living on campus with little/no way to go to the store for cold medicine, you’re stuck feeling awful with few options for getting better.
So let’s take a little walk down memory road to my freshman year of college. It was just an ordinary Sunday and I woke up feeling great and ready to start my day. My only plans were to meet up with some classmates to work on a group project, and I would spend the rest of the day studying my Biology notes. But it quickly took a turn for the worse. In less than 9 hours, I had gone from feeling fine to feeling like I had been hit by a truck. But it wasn’t a truck…it was the flu. It hit me out of nowhere, and I was completely unprepared. I didn’t even have any medicine with me to take, much less a first aid kit! I felt so stupid.
That’s why, I beg of you, invest in a first aid kit for college. Add to it based on your needs and what you know you’ll need more of. Feeling sick in college, especially if you’re living away from home, is stressful enough without not having any medicine to take and feeling awful.
A great first aid kit for college is this one from Amazon. It has all of the necessities you’ll need, and even a list with instructions for the medications and advice. Even better, it has 5 stars and is labeled as Amazon’s Choice, so you know it’s a good investment of your money.
College is a big investment of money, and it’s tempting to try to make it as cheap as possible. However, these are the 5 items you don’t want to pinch your pennies with; believe me, they are well worth the investment, and I only wish I would have seen that sooner.