Thursday, August 9, 2012

Countdown to College: Good Gifts and Target's "College Stuff" List

    Hear that whizzing sound? That's the rest of Summer 2012 flying by, and guess what? That means most of us have about 2 weeks to finish up our back-to-school shopping. Now, if you're new at this college thing, chances are you're freaking out at least a little bit about what you need to bring. The list your school gave you at orientation seems a little light, and you don't want to show up with wayyy more stuff than can fit in your dorm room, so here are a few tips to get started:
  1. Check your school's website for things you absolutely cannot have in your dorm room, especially when it comes to small cooking appliances and pet policies. 
  2. If possible, schedule a time to visit your dorm room to get a feel for how much space you'll have and to measure for things like rugs and curtains if they're not provided by your school.
    Okay, about Target's list. The first thing to remember is, as much as I love Target (ask anyone who knows me, I reeeally love Target), they are a store and the first purpose of this list is to get you to buy things. On the flip side, it actually does suggest several items that will be very helpful and you may not have thought about bringing. So, below you will find three lists: Things from the list that you DON'T need, things from the list that you DO need, and things you DO need that aren't on the list.

Things From the List You Don't Need:
  • A "lounge chair." Unless you have a huge bedroom, you probably won't have space for one. Now you could go all fraternity chic and buy an inflatable chair so you could store it when it's not in use.
  • A wall clock. Chances are you're bringing at least two of the following: a cell phone, a watch, an iPod, or an alarm clock. All of these will tell you the time.
  • Decorative pillows. This goes right back to the space issue. That being, you don't have any.
  • Poster frames. Unless you're super anal about keeping your posters pristine, you can just roll them all up in a large mailing tube and transport them that way, then tape/command strip/sticky tack them to your wall. Frames for all of them are just more things to have to carry in and out of your dorm.
  • Door mirror. Disclaimer: This is one of those things to look for on your dorm visit. Most of the dorms I've seen provide one for you, but I can imagine there are some that don't.
  • Microwave. Again, check your school's policy. Most schools I've seen don't allow them in your dorm room, but provide one for the floor/dorm to use.
  • Toaster oven. See the note for the microwave.
  • Dish caddy. I don't even know what a dish caddy is. I just carry my dishes to the sink, and if I have too many I rinse out my plastic laundry basket and use that.
  • Webcam. Disclaimer: If you have a desktop computer, you may need one. Most laptops, however, come with one built in.
  • Calculator. Unless you're a math major or another major which requires high math, the one in your phone will probably do just fine.
  • Tablet. If you have a computer you don't really need a tablet. I'm sure they're nice to have, but not something I would consider a "need."
  • Gaming system. I know many of my friends would contest this, but this is just something I don't see as a "need" based item.
Things From the List You Do Need:
  • "Bed bug protection kit" or just a regular mattress cover. Just because you never know what happened on that mattress last year. Just sayin'.
  • Disinfecting wipes. Three simple reasons: vomit, flu season, and disease spreads faster in dorms than head lice in preschool.
  • Alarm clock, because nobody likes getting up for 8am classes.
  • Underbed storage. Remember that your dorm room is probably tiny and underbed storage is a great way to get a lot of use out of a largely underused storage area.
  • 3M Command Hooks. These are awesome, especially when you're not allowed to put holes in the walls with nails or tacks. They will hold up significant weight (Just not an entire fan. Story available upon request.) and don't damage paint.
  • Bed risers. To reeeeally get the most out of your underbed storage, bed risers can add up to 8 inches of space.
  • Shower caddy. Slippery bottles, loofahs, razors, and my toothbrush all have one thing in common: you can't carry them all to the shower in your hands and still hold your towel up, and for the love of God, please hold your towel up.
  • Iron. Good for so many things: pressing dress clothes, doing arts and crafts, making grilled cheese Benny and Joon style.
  • Coffee maker. Among the things you can make in a coffee maker: tea, ramen noodles, rice krispie treats, and also coffee.
  • Power strips and extension cords. Among the things to look for if you see your room before you move in is how many outlets there are and where they are located.
Things From the "Stuff for Apartments" List You Do Need:
  • Broom & Dustpan or Vacuum
  • Toilet paper. If you live in a dorm, chances are that the janitorial service doesn't work weekends, and that means your bathroom may run out of toilet paper. Which is crappy. See what I did there?
  • Duct tape. Duh.
  • A box fan, especially if your dorm room isn't air conditioned.
  • Small tool kit with things like a screwdriver, a box knife (if allowed in dorms), duct tape, a flashlight, etc.
Things Not On the List That You Do Need:
  • Baby wipes. Trust me, they're good for everything from cleaning up sticky spills to taking off make  up.
  • A well-stocked first aid kit. You can use this link to get to a blog post where I discuss how to make one.
    I hope that helped! The final part of this post is a list of the most useful gifts I was given when I was going away to college for the first time.
  • A hand-made fleece throw blanket from my Aunt Kari. I seriously use it all the time, be it sitting on my floor while I'm crafting, curled up watching movies, or needing a small blanket to carry on the train. It's so handy.
  • A shower caddy. See above description of why you need one.
  • An electric skillet from some friends of my parents'. It's super handy for grilling chicken, making grilled cheese (not Benny and Joon style) and other cooking ventures where I don't have access to a stove.
  • Clothespin fridge magnets which double as chip-clips.
    I'll post some other things if I think of them. Other than that, if you have been or are currently in college, what items did you find helpful and/or necessary? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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