12 College Must-Haves You Never Knew You Needed

August 14, 2017

12 College Must-Haves You Never Knew You Needed

Before my daughter Jenny started college as a freshman, we were both a little unsure of what she needed to pack. Now heading into her sophomore year, she’s a campus-living pro. Here, she shares the 12 things she wishes she’d known to toss into her duffels.

Mattress topper

“I brought a mattress topper with me to sleepaway camp every summer but didn’t think to bring one to school, so my Dad got one for me. It made the thin mattress so much more comfortable.”

Freezable lunch bag

“I found that I didn’t always have time to sit in the dining hall and eat between classes. With a freezable lunch bag, I can pack a sandwich and a piece of fruit to eat on the go, and the food stays fresh.”

A good umbrella

“All it takes is getting caught in one rainstorm to make you realize you forgot to pack an umbrella. This one opens and closes away from you, so you won’t get splattered.”

Chip Clips

“While I could eat a whole bag of chips when I am up late studying, I really try not to!  With chip clips, I can keep my snacks fresh longer.”


“It was SO hot when I arrived at school last August, and then it heats up again in the spring. You need a fan to keep your room comfortable. Plus, the hum can drown out hallway chatter.”

Desk lamp

“Dorm rooms tend to be poorly lit, which makes a desk lamp an absolute necessity.”

Lap desk

“Sometimes you don’t want to choose between getting work done and getting out of bed.”

Reusable water bottle

“A lot of campuses frown upon disposable water bottles. Be green, and pack a few of the reusable kind instead.”

Folding step stool

“Most dorm rooms have some high shelves. If you don’t have a folding step stool, it can be hard to get stuff down (or remember it’s up there).”

Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover

“I don’t do laundry as often as my mom does, so I started keeping this laundry pen around to prevent permanent stains while my clothes sit in the hamper.”

Lightweight blanket

“Last year I brought a comforter that was too heavy to use right away. This year, I’m bringing a lighter blanket I can use in August and September, and then I’ll layer it with my comforter when it gets cold.”


“My mom hung these on my wall and wrote messages on each bubble, like, ‘We love you,’ and, ‘Jenny rocks!’ At first I rolled my eyes when I saw them, but after she left, they reminded me how much my parents love me. Now I use these to leave myself reminders, and friends jot down notes for me when they drop by.”

–Randi Mazzella

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