Essentials For Going Away To College

August 9, 2011 4:00 PM

Heading off to college to start a new life sans parents can be exciting, it’s the packing part that can feel overwhelming. How do you pack 18 years into a trunk of a car? And what do you need for starting a new life in a dorm room? Read on for the necessities for comfortable dorm living.


It’s a little known fact that college students like to sleep. Whether it’s getting a nap in before dinner or sleeping in until noon on the weekends, college kids spend a lot of time in bed. It’s important to be comfy and warm in your bunk bed. Most dorms have extra long twin beds in their rooms, so it is important to buy XL twin bed sheets. You don’t need 800 count Egyptian cotton, but jersey knit sheets will make you feel like your sleeping in your favorite t-shirt. Make sure to buy two.

Where to buy:  Chicagoland Target– Room Essentials Jersey Sheets

For $24.99 a set, it won’t hurt the bank to buy two.


Maybe you have the luxury of getting a fresh towel every morning at home, but those days are over. Nor are you going to have room to store seven sets of towels in your postage stamp sized closet. Bring at least two sets so that when you’re washing one you can be using the other. Softness and price is a personal choice for many, but don’t go too expensive because towels never last as long as you’d like. Walk the aisles at Bed Bath and Beyond for the most choices in softness, color and price.

Where to buy:  Chicagoland Bed Bath and Beyond

Shower Tote & Flip Flops

Girls use so much stuff in the shower it’s quite possible to use over four bottles plus a shower poof for one shower. It’s essential to have a shower tote to help you tote it all every morning to the bathroom. It must be plastic or mesh so it’s easy to dry and also have holes so any water can drain out of it. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy an extra tote for things like makeup and hair products too.) And it is essential to wear flip flops in the shower. It might seem like a hassle at first, but until you see the shower floors, you’ll never leave for the bathroom again without them on your feet.

Where to buy: Totes are available at Chicagoland Container Stores and Bed Bath and Beyond:

Where to buy: Cheap flip flops for the shower are available at Old Navy

Alarm Clock

Don’t bank on your cell phone waking you up for your 7:30 a.m. final on a Saturday morning. (Yes, they do exist!) Mom and Dad might even help to pitch in and buy an alarm clock for you if they know it means you’ll be up on time and going to class. This alarm clock is on wheels and only gives you one chance before it takes off zooming around your room. You’ll have to get out of bed.

Where to buy: Chicagoland Brookstone – Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels

Price: $39.95

Where’s My Stapler?

(credit: CBS)


This might sound like the most miniscule, nonessential thing, but you must buy one along with a box of staples. I borrowed my friend’s stapler so many times that in the first few weeks of school, she and her boyfriend went out and bought me my very own. With the amount of papers you will be writing and printing for the next four years, you will find out quickly why it is a must have.

Where to buy:  You can buy one at any office supply store, Walgreens or the campus bookstore.


When Mom hands you a framed photo of the family before you fly the nest, take it and don’t put up a fight. Not only will it make her heart sing, you will occasionally miss your family. Take one to remind you of your friends back home and don’t forget one of the family dog or cat. Little reminders of home are always nice to have around for the occasional lonely day.

Where to buy:  Kohl’s always has picture frames on sale.

Rachel Azark is a writer, lives on Chicago’s northwest side and would go back to college in a heartbeat. Read more of her work on her blog

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