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6 Staples Every First Year College Student Needs

asian dad passing his son his belongings to pack into the car
Written by CB Community

So you’re starting your first year in college— you’ve got your classes picked out, you’ve connected with your new roommate, and you’ve probably even got some merch from your new school. But there are a few things you may be forgetting as you pack up your things and head to your new home. Nope, it’s not the microwave your parents got you as a parting gift, nor is it the new laptop you’ll be putting long hours of writing and learning into. We’ve got 6 staples you need to pack before you head off to your new academic adventure!

1) Functional Backpack

This one may seem like an obvious one, but choosing a backpack is more serious than picking out your favorite color and heading on your way. When you’re picking out a backpack for college it’s important to think about the following three things.

  • Comfort: Look for a backpack with padded straps and support. You’ll be carrying this thing around for long school days and probably have quite a bit of stuff in it— a heavy laptop, books, and whatever else you need to take on the day.
  • Space: If you’re like most college students, you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time on campus, so you’ll need to park all of your day’s essentials. Look for a backpack that has a separate laptop compartment and plenty of space to hold everything you’ll need to succeed.
  • Style: Just because you need a backpack that’s functional, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on style. A classic, stylish backpack should do the trick!

2) Professional Attire

You never know what opportunity awaits when you’re on your college campus. From professional workshops to famous keynote speakers, it’s important to always look your best in case you have the chance to connect with a professional in your field.

Make sure you have these items packed in your suitcase:

  • Professional Clothing: Use a personal styling service to help you find professional looks that you love— without having to spend hours and hours at the store shopping for the perfect blazer or dress shirt.
  • Professional Accessories: As far as accessories go, there are really only two things you’ll need: a great watch and a professional briefcase or tote to pack your resume and laptop. An all black watch is a stylish, refined way to go for your timepiece, while a simple leather tote is a polished alternative to your day to day backpack. Click here for some great watch ideas.

3) A Little Piece of Home

Living in the dorms this year? Make your tiny 8 by 12 ft dorm room feel a bit more like home with some cool art prints that show off your personal style and really makes your space, yours. Bring some photos from home to remind yourself of all of your friends and family back home when you’re stressed in the midst of finals week. Just be sure to use adhesive hooks so you don’t damage those dorm room walls!

4) Instant Pot

When you’re eating at the resident dining hall day in and day out, chances are you’re going to miss the comforts of home cooking. So why not be your own culinary hero? Our tip: invest in a pressure cooker to make cooking (and clean up) a breeze!

5) Bike

Biking is a great way to get to know your new city or town and your college campus — plus it’s way faster than walking. Most college campuses are super bike friendly and incorporate bike paths throughout to help students move safely from class to class. Plus, biking is fun and you may even find a new community of active people you’ll love to hang out with! Before you head off to school, pick up a pair of wheels from your local bike store.

6) Health Essentials

Balancing a hefty workload, part-time, job, internships, and a social life can become overwhelming really quickly. The last thing you need in college is to deal with being sick. Pack these health essentials to make sure you’re always feeling your best whether you’re celebrating spring break or crushing exams during finals week.

  • A stainless-steel water bottle to stay hydrated
  • Immune supporting supplements like Emergen-C and Sambucol
  • First Aid items including bandages, ibuprofen, tissues, etc.


Packing your whole life away to go to college can feel overwhelming— especially if this is the first time you’ve spent away from home. But follow these tips and you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way!

For more great topics regarding college life, check out the other blogs at College Basics.

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.