The aisles of Target are stacked high with plastic storage bins and laundry baskets. Your mom drags you to Bed Bath & Beyond for the third time with a checklist longer than the walk from Hinton James to Franklin Street. Yep…college shopping season has arrived.
Getting everything you need before move-in day can be overwhelming. You have the basics (twin XL sheets, microfridge, alarm clock), but some things you don’t realize you need until you arrive on campus. When you’re loading up your parents’ minivan, make sure you have these 10 often overlooked items!
1. Umbrella: Chapel Hill, North Carolina—where the weather can switch from 10% chance of rain to 100% chance of thunderstorms in the time it takes you to walk to the bus stop right outside your residence hall (I speak from personal experience). Sitting in a cramped lecture hall soaking wet is no fun, so keep a small, portable umbrella in your backpack.
2. Lysol wipes: When one person on your floor gets sick, EVERYONE on your floor gets sick. Fight the inevitable campus-wide cold by wiping your doorknobs, desk, and other germ-ridden surfaces with Lysol wipes. You’ll also need them if you’re living in a residence hall where you have to clean your own bathroom (Koury, Horton, Craige North, and Hardin).
3. Professional clothes: Athletic shorts and T-shirts may as well be the UNC student uniform, but you’ll have to get dressed up more often than you’d think. Pack a business suit and a few business casual outfits for career fairs, on-campus job interviews, student organization meetings, etc.
4. Shower shoes: When you’re sharing a bathroom with 7 (or more) other people, you’re going to want something between your feet and the floor. Stop by Old Navy and pick up a few pairs of $2 flip-flops!
5. School supplies: College is still school, after all! Unlike in high school, though, your professors won’t care what you use to stay organized. I keep it simple with an accordion file for papers, a five-subject notebook (one section for each class), pens, and pencils.
6. Dinnerware: Bring a plate, bowl, mug, spoon, and fork for those days when you’re not feeling Rams Head for dinner or you want to heat up some leftovers. Also, most residence hall programs are “bring your own bowl/mug/etc.”, so don’t get stuck using a paper towel as a plate for your pancakes!
7. Desk fan: I can’t sleep without my desk fan—the white noise drowns out loud floormates and slamming doors, or conversely, keeps the room from being too quiet. Not to mention, you’ll want a way to cool off after walking back from class in the 90-degree late summer heat.
8. Reusable water bottle: Don’t forget to stay hydrated! I fill up my water bottle every morning at Top of Lenoir, and most residence halls (and the Union) have water fountains with bottle attachments.
9. Small duffel bag: Club sports, student organizations, church groups, and other things you may decide to join sometimes travel. Whether you’re going on an overnight trip or just heading home for the weekend, you’ll need something to pack your stuff in.
10. Power strip/surge protector: The number of wall outlets is limited, especially when you’re sharing the space with a roommate. I use a power strip (with a flat plug so it fits behind my desk) to plug in my phone, laptop, lamp, desk fan, and other electronic devices.
As you’re checking items off that mile-long college list, make sure to pick up these lesser-known essentials—you’ll be glad you have them once you move into your residence hall. Happy shopping!