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July 24, 2007 > College Shopping List

College Shopping List

By Mekala Raman

As August approaches, millions of students prepare for yet another year of school. Of this group, there is a special group of students preparing for one of the biggest changes in their lives - the first year of college. A month ago, these high school seniors laughed and cried as they remembered all the experiences they had shared with their classmates for the past twelve years. The energy that had previously been used for studying and classes was redirected to spend more quality "hanging-out time" with friends instead of studying and to go for afternoon adventures instead of classes. On graduation day, these same seniors proudly received the slips of paper that declared that they were high school alumni and left Grad Night knowing that many of them were college-bound freshmen about to leave all this familiarity behind.

Now, a month later, the imminent freshmen have had time to get through their nostalgic feelings and a new emotion has worked its way through...anxiety. The realization finally hits many of them that they will be leaving home for an extended period for the first time. They will be away from parents and living in a new residence all by themselves. At this point, the most nerve-wracking activity is shopping. Since many things have been taken for granted while living at home, it is difficult to think of all the basic necessities needed in the new residence, let alone the luxuries that will ensure truly comfortable living.

To help some of you who are going through a dilemma like this, I compiled a list of items and tips that helped me through my first year of college:

* Make sure you know the size of the beds in the dormitories and purchase the appropriate bed set. It is more convenient to have at least two sets of sheets in case you have to sleep while you are washing your sheets or if your sheets accidentally get left behind in the laundry at your parent's house.
* Make sure you pack your pillow - they are easy to forget, since they are usually kept separately.
* Check to see if your dormitory provides wireless Internet or if you need to bring your own Ethernet cord. Alternately, you may want to bring your own wireless firewall/router if the campus policy allows it.
* Most students bring a laptop computer, as it travels easily with you, but a desktop computer is quite adequate for most situations.
* Bring a power strip and an extension cord. You will need to have a place to plug in a power cord for your computer, a lamp, a cell phone charger, an alarm clock, etc.
* Bring an appropriate amount of books and DVDs for your free time - you know you won't be studying all the time.
* If you watch a good amount of television and like your privacy, purchasing your own television set would be a good investment. You might want to check whether your roommate is thinking of bringing one and the two of you could come to some sort of agreement. If neither person brings a T.V. set, but you still want to watch T.V. shows, most common rooms or lounges have television sets that can be shared by the other residents in the building.
* It is a good idea to bring varying sizes of trash bags. Since you will be doing a lot of eating in your room, any remnants of the food or drink will be thrown away in your room's garbage cans. If these food particles are left in contact with the walls of the trash can for too long, you will get a nice, healthy growth of mold. This tip comes from a personal, and very messy, experience.
* Along the same lines, it is a good idea to bring Tupperware boxes to store food in your dorm room. It is also a good idea to clean out the dishes after the food is gone.
* Most dorm rooms are either equipped with a refrigerator and a microwave or you can rent one. However, you also have the option of bringing your own, so think about which option you prefer.
* Take a few pots and large spoons to make quick dishes like macaroni and cheese. It is not necessary to take packs of disposable cutlery. One spoon, one fork, and one knife are sufficient because you can keep washing them after each use. You should pack some dish soap and a sponge to wash these dishes.
* Definitely stock up on all of your favorite snacks and granola bars because, even if you didn't before, most students end up eating all the time and snacking heavily.
* Bring a large pack of bottled water because they are handy to take to class and for making microwavable dishes in your dorm room.
* Find out where the ATM machine for your bank account is located. You will need cash for some shopping or when you go out for meals.
* Make sure you take a good supply of batteries because there are many appliances that will use battery power like calculators, flashlights, cameras, etc.
* Get a bathrobe if you would rather change in your room than in the bathroom after taking a shower. Also, get a small basket to keep all your bath supplies together.
* Get a combination lock for any lockers you may need to use around campus. Some bathrooms have lockers for your supplies, so the lock would come in handy for that. Make sure to check out the bathroom early to get the shelf or locker that you like.
* If you are thinking of taking a bike to school, it is best to get a used bike and get it refurbished. It is helpful to attach a basket to either the front or back of the bike to hold books, purses, etc. You will also need a bike light for nighttime biking and a safety lock.
* If your room is not carpeted, think about buying a rug. Again check with your roommate first to make sure you are not duplicating efforts.

I hope this list will be helpful. Good luck to the class of 2011!

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