College just around the corner and in a few weeks, all the stores will be putting out their back-to-school displays and ads for must-have items for college dorms. As either an incoming or current college student, there is no doubt that you have either read or seen an abundance of blog posts about what to bring to college, how to pack for college, how to choose your college dorm, and possibly even what not to buy.
However, as I was reading these blog posts and lists while going into my freshman year, very few of them listed any of the items that I am including on this list, all of which are extremely important. So whether you’ve already created your packing list or you haven’t even started yet, be sure to not forget these ten items!
1) Renters Insurance
As the first item on this list, this oddity is most likely confusing a lot of students. After all, isn’t renter’s insurance something you only get if you are renting an apartment or a home?
The short-and-sweet answer: No.
Believe it or not, you may need to buy renters insurance for your dorm room. Depending on the type of insurance you have, it can help in cases such as smoke damage from a fire, or water damage from the sprinkler system or a flood.
I’m going to be completely honest: when I moved to college, I didn’t think these sorts of things happened very often. After all, if I had, wouldn’t I be hearing about them more often?
Turns out, these accidents happen a lot more than you would expect, and I’ve seen them first-hand on my campus multiple times. For some students, these accidents caused hundreds of dollars in damages, but unfortunately some of them didn’t know about renter’s insurance and ended up losing a lot of their stuff and money. If possible, I encourage you to consider purchasing this insurance before you move on-campus this Fall.
(Just a quick tip: before you purchase renter’s insurance, check to see whether your parents’ home insurance policy will already cover your items while your living in a dorm. Either way, you’ll need some form of insurance.
2) Important Documents
By “important documents,” I am referring to papers like your social security card or visa, which can be crucial in situations like getting a job. Although many students recognize their importance, they can easily be forgotten at home when focusing on packing other dorm room items.
Besides job-related documentation, it is also important to take documents like your health insurance card (in case of a medical emergency. Remember to keep these documents in a safe, secured area. These are items that you do not want to lose.
3) Emergency Fund
This may be a bit laughable to some college students, especially since many of us are completely broke. I mean, an emergency fund? Really?
However, many college students don’t realize how necessary an emergency fund can actually be. For example, what if you’re driving to work and your car breaks down? You rely on that job to pay your bills, but if you can’t get there then you can’t make money, and suddenly you’re behind on your tuition payments and rent. If only you had a stash of emergency money to pay for those car repairs…
See where I’m going with this?
That’s why it’s important to have an emergency fund: a no-touch money stash that you use only in the case of an emergency. (And no, midnight pizza runs are not an emergency.) The purpose of the emergency fund is to not only cover unexpected expenses, but to also deter you from getting into any sort of unexpected debt. Generally, an emergency fund is several hundred dollars and can save you a lot of stress in the long-run.
4) An Ethernet Cable
This may be one item that some students already planned on packing for college, but I didn’t hear about it until I was on a college tour.
Basically, if the WiFi is running slowly (or not working at all), you can use the Ethernet cable to connect your laptop to the Ethernet port in your room, bypassing the need for a WiFi connection. This can be extremely helpful if you are struggling to get an assignment turned in on time thanks to spotty connection.
5) Forwarding Your Mailing Address
Okay, so technically this isn’t a tangible item to bring to college, but it does help a lot! Basically, any mail that you would have received at home (i.e. magazines, bills, etc.) gets forwarded to you at college, saving your family the trouble of having to do it themselves. This can be crazy important, especially if it’s time-sensitive material (bills, jury duty notices, etc.) that you do not want to miss.
6) A List of Serial numbers
The last thing we want in college is to have to deal with stolen property, but sadly, it does happen to many students. Unfortunately, these thieves aren’t stealing the cheap stuff, either: they are stealing laptops, phones, and other expensive items that can seem almost impossible to find after they are taken. Although we all hope that this never happens, if any of your valuables do happen to be stolen, having the items’ serial numbers to provide the police with can be extremely helpful in tracking it down because each number is unique to the specific item. For example, if the item turns up in a pawn shop, they can identify the item as belonging to you because of it’s unique serial number.
Again, just like #2 on this list, remember to keep the list in a safe, secure area.
7) A Small Toolkit
A little-known fact about me is that I have glasses. Although I wear contacts 99% of the time now, this wasn’t always the case, and the glasses I wore constantly had the screws coming loose. This was frustrating, especially when it happened during school. Since my glasses were pretty necessary for me to see, my dad gave me a small toolkit that I have always kept on hand since, even in college.
Having a toolkit like this can not only help make repairs like these, but they can also assist in replacing calculator batteries or putting together dorm furniture. It’s not until you need it, but don’t have it, that you realize how indispensable this item really is.
8) HDMI Cable
We all love having movie nights in college, but when it suddenly becomes more than one or two people watching a movie on your laptop, it’s time to upgrade to a bigger screen. For many students, this means watching the movie on the television, but what if the television doesn’t have a DVD player?
This is where the HDMI cable comes in. Essentially, you can play the movie on the DVD player in your laptop, but it will show up on the TV because of the HDMI cable that connects them; this is an easy way to save some money by skipping out on the cost of a DVD player.
Tip: Before buying one, see if your dorm will have one that’s available to loan out!
9) A Dorm Room Safe
We’ve already discussed what to have on hand if your valuables do get stolen, but how about we prevent that theft in the first place? One of the best purchases a college student can make is a dorm room safe, which protects any valuables that you may have and gives you peace of mind (especially if you’re in class and you realize that you left your room unlocked). Even better, you can skip purchasing an expensive safe at the store by using your suitcase and securing it with a TSA lock! (I cover that dorm room hack in an article that you can read by clicking here.)
10) A Step Stool
Okay, so maybe a step stool is a bit more obvious than renter’s insurance and a toolkit, but believe me, it is something that many students never even think of bringing to college.
A step stool can help with anything from reaching a tall shelf, hanging up posters or lights, providing an extra place to sit when friends come over, or even just an elevated spot that you can throw your backpack and jackets on when you get back from class. (I’m guilty of this.) The space for a step stool isn’t a problem, either, as there are many that fold up for easy storage, or it can be tucked under a bed or desk. Of all the items that I forgot to bring and had to purchase later on, this is one of my favorites.
Hopefully any (or all) of these will help you navigate collegiate living, whether you are an incoming student or a current student trying to get one step ahead!