What College kids REALLY need for their freshman year-- cheap and save money, as always.

I can't help but feel like I keep seeing lists made by people out of touch with college defining what college kids need and where they can get the items cheap to save money. What I'm giving to you is a list of things that REAL college kids need and will make them happier that they have it. I also post a list of things that most people EXPECT to need but never end up using.

Remember, before you go out buying all of this stuff (if you feel you'll need it), remember to check prices. Check sales, check outlet stores, check thrift stores, etc. Craigslist is great, Freecycle.org is incredible (I've just found out about it- it's kind of like the free section of Craigslist), and check your local newspapers for kids that just graduated college selling all their stuff that they don't want anymore (this is great for right around May-- so plan ahead).

What you'll really need-

A Cell Phone-
Whether it's a pay-as-you-go or a monthly cell phone; you'll need one of the two. During my junior and senior years, one of my independent study professors would text me about meetings. You can also double your phone as an alarm clock, calculator, place to store small notes, and depending on the type of phone, numerous others. It seems a pretty easy way for a college kid to condense his stuff.

Flip-flops-
Yep. These little suckers you will need. Get them cheap from some bargain shop for $1-2; they're going to look gross by the end of the first month, so don't waste money on style. This is especially true if you're living with mostly guys; the shower will look like Hell by the end of the year, regardless of whether or not the school has someone clean the bathroom daily. It's inevitable.

A Shower Cart-
Unless you go to a private school and you've SEEN the bathrooms, don't expect cubicles to put your soaps in. Most schools don't have them, and the schools that do usually end up not using them because people "borrow" soap and don't return them. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures. So unless you want to walk to the shower with a pile of your personals in your hand, I recommend a shower cart. Try to get a small one with a few different little areas for soaps, conditioners, razors, etc.

Linens-
Don't really worry about these like most websites say; you need to buy them, but cheap ones will do. Most colleges crank the heat so ridiculously that during the winter you'll be keeping the windows open because it just gets too incredibly hot. Why do colleges do this? I have no idea. But with this in mind, you don't really need a $100 comforter, okay-- save some money?

Windex-
Windex or a brand that does the same will be your lifeline come the end of the semester when all the gunk has built up; especially before you leave in the spring (or spring cleaning). It's pretty much the clean-all for your room; it can handle any disgusting thing you can think of. The cheap stuff actually often works better, or you can try to save some money and make your own cleaners or make your own mold killers.

Laundry detergent-
Don't buy the huge jug; you won't use it all (unless you're compulsively cleaning). Because quarters are a rarity in college, everyone pushes off laundry day as long as possible. Then you'll see kids doing the shameful walk down 6 flights of stairs with trash bags and laundry bins full of dirty socks, underwear, shirts, and god knows what else. Usually, one of the ones for 20 washes is going to be more than enough. Otherwise, it's just extra weight you've got to drag with you for that long, painful walk.

A Lamp-
You'll need a lamp in college. Badly. Why? Because, the overhead lights at the school will cause you to hate your life. It will make you feel permanently like you're in a hospital ward-- and if you keep it up, you'll end up there. Although it doesn't save money, it will keep you out of the insane asylum, so I think it gains a few points for that. You can also get a cloth flag or extremely large bandanna and stick it to the ceiling around the overhead to give it a dimming feeling, which is pretty cool, but most schools won't allow it because they'll claim it's a fire hazard; check your school, or do it anyway. I can't condone the action if it's illegal, but I can't tell you what to do. So do what you've got to do, right?

A Fridge-
Yeah; there's no way you're lasting without one. A community fridge doesn't really work for the community-- once something is in there, it's free game. Save yourself the pain of looking for grandma's carrot cake in the community fridge, and buy yourself a mini-fridge.

A Laptop-
I see a lot of articles saying depending on your situation a desktop might be more suited for you. This is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. In college, you'll find out that sometimes you need to do your work outside-- and most times you'll have free wireless outside (WiFi); can't do that with a desktop, can you? You'll also discover in college you'll have numerous presentations that include using software like PowerPoint-- using your own computer makes much more sense and is much easier to keep from having serious problems when presenting (which could be costly to your grade). Save yourself the aggrivation and buy a cheap laptop-- it seems in my experiences the cheap ones last longer therefore do, in fact, save money.


Ok, now I've given you a list of stuff a college student will need, now here's the common misconceptions about what students need. I don't know why people seem to keep printing out these lists, some of the stuff is completely absurd.

What you really won't need-


An Alarm Clock-
We are in the age of cell phones and computers; download a program for your computer for your alarm clock so you can make it any song you'd like to wake up to. The same goes for you phone. They offer software that allows you to set your weekly schedule; what alarm clock can do that for you? Save some money and don't waste your time.

A landline phone line-
No college kid would even tell his friend that he's got one of these. It's absurd to even think about. It's not feasible to use in college; no one is sitting around enough in their room doing nothing to even give a phone like this any real use. Ditch the landline and break for a cheap cell phone. If you don't really need it; get a pay-as-you-go phone plan through Trackfone or a company similar to it. Use it as your alarm clock and phone book, and bum phones from other people if you've got to.

CD/DVD Writer-
Most computers are built with one of these, but I don't see why it is necessary for a college student to need one of these. It seems to be a waste of money; but I guess some people might need it. Don't worry; if you think your computer might eat your paper, e-mail it to yourself, and make sure it opens. As long as it does, you'll be fine and won't have to tank $100 for a cd/dvd writer.

Bathrobe-
You don't need a bathrobe. Most people put their underwear on in the bathroom before they go into the hallway anyway, and you can cover yourself with a towel. Everyone in college does it; so don't expect people to look at you funny. It's a part of life in this world, so don't worry about a bathrobe. In my college days, I think I only saw two kids total actually wearing bathrobes. Girls might be different; but for guys, it was a no-go.

Bookcase-
I know; why would you need a book case? Have you ever SEEN the inside of a dorm room? There are more shelves than you can count. This is chalked up to inexperience and possibly having lost touch with what it was like to be in college. You don't need a bookcase, save the money and just use the crappy shelves that come with the room.

Cable-
You don't need cable; your lounge will have cable and it's right down the hall. It's a complete waste of money; and in private schools often times they provide cable for their students anyway. It's not like there's ever anything good on TV anyway.

Area Rugs-
No, you don't need an area rug either. The first week someone will spill beer or wine on it and it's ruined; save yourself the money and just skip this step all together. It's a part of college, being messy, and there's no point in being the college student that dresses up their room ridiculously and it gets trashed in the first week (because it ALWAYS will).

Furniture-
You won't have room for anything. Especially if you're in freshman dorms. Trust me; nothing. The minifridge and maybe a microwave are all you'll get. You don't really need a microwave cause there should be one in the community kitchen, and as long as you hang around it while your food is being nuked no one will touch it.

An Air Conditioner-
Most windows won't allow you to bring one of these, and you really don't need one. Newer dorms have thermostats, and older ones are made of concrete so they stay relatively cool in the summer. Granted, I'm from the north, so I don't know how it works down south-- but I know we don't really need it, we just want it.

This list was constructed from prior knowledge and flipping around through websites that suggested what you would need. Hopefully, my list here will help you college students from wasting money on unnecessary items and will also help prepare you to buy items you will need early to save money. Good luck!