Back to School Must-haves: College Edition

Back to School Must-haves: College Edition

Cara ChatellierAugust 25, 2021

For many young adults, going off to college is the first time in their lives that they’ve lived alone and away from their parents and loved ones. It is a pinnacle point in their journey between adolescence and adulthood, often marked by a swirled mix of celebration and tears for all involved. Whether your college student is just beginning their collegiate academic journey this September or is an upperclassman hoping to redecorate their own space for the upcoming school year, we think there are essential items they have to take with them even if they’re not going too far from home. We know that back-to-school lists can be long and overwhelming, no matter your child’s age, so we hope to make things a little easier for everyone. Erase the pre-move-in jitters by shopping together for the best items for their dorm rooms or off-campus apartments. 

Here are our favorite must-have items for the upcoming college school year. 

Standard school supplies are always in style.

Preparation is vital when it comes to success in the classroom. Whether your student is attending full-time or part-time classes, having the right tools to help them learn and grow is imperative to get their work done without added stress and frustration. Although college feels like a total 180 from all previous school years, with labs and lectures galore, standard school supplies are still beyond helpful to your student’s accomplishments. Don’t feel the need to wrack up on every school supply possible; instead, focus more on the items you know they’ll use in their daily education endeavors.


Our top school supply items include:

  • A laptop with the Microsoft suite of applications and a carry case
  • A wireless mouse with a mouse pad
  • Writing notebooks and a journal
  • Writing utensils
  • A bookshelf
  • A new backpack 
  • Three-hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Desk drawer organizers
  • Calculator
  • Daily planner
  • Highlighters
  • Sticky notes
  • Bulletin board or dry erase board
  • Paper calendar
  • Stapler

Home essentials bring the comforts of home closer together.

There is nothing like the comforts of home to ease new school year jitters. From feeling anxious about moving far away or embarking on a new adventure with a slew of new people, students experience a wave of emotions when going off to college (even after the first year). So small pieces of the home should be part of their packing list as they move their essentials out of your home this fall. 


Our favorite home essentials to take include:

  • Framed photos or photo albums
  • Blankets or pillows that smell like home
  • Their favorite books
  • Their journal
  • A plant from your garden
  • Their favorite wall decor items from their current room
  • Bathrobes or comfort clothes 
  • A candle that smells like home (if permitted)

Aside from the items that feel like home, don’t forget the essential home pieces that are a must in a new place, like:

  • Kitchen utensils
  • A microwave
  • A coffee maker with a travel mug 
  • Bowls, plates, and cups
  • Bedding
  • Towels 
  • Laundry supplies
  • Bathroom essentials
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Easy-to-prepare foods, snacks, and drinks
  • Under-bed and in-room storage bins to house all of their clothes and essentials that don’t fit on the college-provided furniture

School spirit runs high.

No matter what school your student decides to attend, school spirit is the backbone to their sense of identity and independence on campus. They instantly feel a sense of community through school spirit with all of the new students attending alongside them. Whether your child is proud to be an Ohio State Buckeye, an Oklahoma Sooner, a Michigan Wolverine, or somewhere in between, representing your school is a big part of the college experience. Share in school spirit with your child this year by wearing their college’s gear, showing up to significant game day events for their teams, or sharing your love and pride for their alma mater across social media. A solid connection to your college can last a lifetime with memories of the time spent there that never fade. 


A new school year is the beginning of a new life season, no matter what grade your student is going into. Preparing for college can feel like a lot for both you and your child. Stick to our essentials guide to help you make sound decisions without the added stress. We wish you the most luck and success on this upcoming journey. 

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