cool school stuff

The 9 Things Freshmen Should Bring to College, According to Sophomores

As days get shorter and temperatures cool, it’s also time (eek) to start thinking about going back to school. To help you get a jump on the best school (and school-related) supplies to buy for fall, we’re running a series called Cool School Stuff, in which we’ll sniff out the best backpacksbest dorm décor, and best bento boxes, among many, many other things.

As we were putting together shopping lists for college freshmen, we started to wonder which experts would have the best advice for what 18-year-olds should be bringing on campus. And then it dawned on us: Who better to advise incoming freshmen on college essentials than incoming sophomores? So we found a few and asked them, “What do you think a freshman should definitely bring to college?” Below, all the things to arrive with that are not included in the handbook.

“I would highly suggest bringing another source of light to your freshman dorm room. Most don’t have too much access to natural light, so having something to brighten your room besides the awful fluorescents is crucial. Try some pretty fairy lights to hang around your bed.” — Jordan Horowitz, Kenyon College

“A simple desk lamp will also improve the situation and provide proper reading light.” — Horowitz

“I’d also recommend a diffuser. Since candles aren’t allowed in dorm rooms, a diffuser is a great alternative — it’ll keep your room fresh and clean-feeling. Oftentimes, when I feel an exam-time cold coming on, I’ll pop some eucalyptus oils in and it’ll help clear up my nose, too.” — Horowitz

“A really good alarm clock is a great thing to have. One where you can set multiple alarms, have it show the time digitally, and that’s loud enough that you don’t sleep through all your classes.” — Ethan Samuel, SUNY Albany

“Get Settlers of Catan. It’s a super-fun, easy-to-learn, slightly competitive game that makes for a really good icebreaker when you’re sitting on the floor of your dorm room, chatting with people you don’t know that well.” — Josie Lee, UC Berkeley

“Bring bed risers. You’ll likely end up in a pretty small room freshman year, and using them can allow you to fit cabinets, drawers, or even a fridge underneath your bed — and free up a lot of space in the room.” — Alexa Paladino, Dartmouth College

“A headrest pillow was a must-buy for me and my friends freshman year. Most dorm beds don’t have a headboard or much to support your back at all, and these are so comfortable, and easy to sit back on and write essays on your laptop with. Plus, you can get any color you want, so they make good bed décor, too.” — Francesca Keller, Bard College

“I’d also recommend these small bags to put your delicates in to keep them from getting ruined in the washer. They’re very, very helpful for dorm washers.” — Keller

“Bring non-latex condoms. In case you meet someone who’s allergic to latex.” — Ella, UC Berkeley

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9 Things Sophomores Say Freshmen Should Bring to College