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College 101: Essentials for Surviving College

Hey guys! I have about a month before I start my senior year of college. I thought I might as well share some of the knowledge I’ve gained throughout my time at university. Therefore, I will be creating a college series with themed posts coming out every Wednesday. I’ll cover things like staying organized, eating healthy, acing exams, nailing the interview, and more! Here’s the first of many in my College 101 series. Stay tuned for more College posts.

Today I’ll be discussing ten essentials for college, most of these items seem silly to even mention, but I’ll talk about why these items are so important and how they’ve helped me over the past three years.

Ten Essentials for College:


Why mention a back pack? It seems stupid to even mention, but hey if there’s anything you splurge on when going back-to-school shopping it’s your backpack because if you spend a little extra money you’ll save money in the long run and save your back! It’s important to get a backpack that feels comfortable and can fit all the essentials, as well as, being durable. It’s easy to keep the same backpack for the next four years. Many girls think you can get away with carrying around a large purse, but you’ll find after lugging around your notebooks, laptop, etc. your shoulder will be killing you and you’ll wear out your favorite purse!


I used to just carry around my cash and credit card in the back of my phone case, but when I got to college my parents finally told me it was time to get a real wallet. I dreaded the idea of having to carry around something other than my phone, but I realized with a student ID, credit cards, license, cash, and business cards it’s nice to have everything in one secure place. 

Phone case

GET A PHONE CASE! Not just any phone case, one that will protect your phone and maybe even your screen. Your parents will thank you and you’ll thank your hungover self in the morning. I swear every night there’s at least one person who cracks their screen after going out or even just dropping it while running to class. I’ve only cracked my phone screen once in the three years in college and it’s because I’ve had some really great phone cases. 

Rain boots/rain jacket

When I was a freshman I didn’t really think I needed rain boots or a rain jacket because I never really needed them in high school. I soon realized that wearing a sweater and sneaker was fine when running from my car to my high school’s main building, but would no longer cut it when you have class from 8 a.m. to noon in the pouring rain. It’s hard to focus on balancing chemical equations when your socks are still wet from your 8 am. Trust me when I say to put this on your “bring to college” list. 

Water bottle

So some may not think this is necessary, but if you’re like me who will go an entire day without drinking water unless someone offers me a glass then you need it. Whether it’s a hot summer day and you’re walking between classes or you decide to stop by the gym during lunch you need to stay hydrated. Having a water bottle in the side of your backpack allows you to always have access to water without relying on a water fountain. I definitely drink more water with my water bottle because I’ll even just take swigs of water to keep myself awake in those early morning classes. Ice cold water with a shot of lemon juice and cayenne wakes your body up in a similar way coffee does, but it’s much healthier! 


Going off the last essential item… sneakers are also really important because whether you go to the gym once a week or once a day or even if you just have a long walk from your dorm that day sneakers are comfortable and give your feet great support. You’ll be putting on miles in college so it’s always nice to give your feet a break by slipping on some cute sneakers instead of the uncomfortable sandals you can only really use to walk a short distance.

College sweatshirt

There’s going to be a time you go to a school spirit event or a sporting event, you don’t want to be the only one not wearing spirit wear! So when your parents come for move-in day stop by the college bookstore and grab a college sweatshirt. Also college sweatshirts are notorious for being extra comfy and snuggly so feel free to size up and use it to sleep in on winter nights 🙂


Staying organized and on-top of your assignments is key to getting A’s and even just being accountable in your extracurriculars and to your friends. I’ve used an academic planner ever since I was in middle school, but when I got to college I started writing everything in it from my doctor’s appointments to when I’m grabbing lunch with my friends. My planner has been my lifesaver when trying to schedule long term plans such as interviews or vacations. Make sure you’re looking at your planner at least once a day and you get one you like because you’ll be looking at it everyday for the next year haha. 


I know a lot of you might have made a resume when applying for college, but I know a lot of my friends didn’t have one and didn’t know how to make one my freshman year and I was shocked! How could you go into college without a resume! Well I’m telling you here and now if you want a job that isn’t working at your local grocery store or mowing your neighbor’s’ lawns make a resume. It doesn’t have to be amazing because you’ll perfect it as you go throughout your college career, but at least have something when you dad’s best friend asks for your resume to pass onto the hiring manager at his company or your professor needs to write a recommendation for your study abroad program and asks for a resume. You get the point it’s good to have one and have it on hand.


Another place to splurge is your laptop. Most people have laptops from high school, but if you don’t or if you’ve had yours since freshman year of high school it might be time for an upgrade. It’s important to ask your college, as well as, the people in your major which laptops they use because some engineering programs might require certain programs that only run on microsoft based computers, whereas if you’re a design student most people are using Macs because of the high quality screens allowing you to edit photos and video in great detail. Most schools have those programs and computers available to you in the labs, but it’s always best to check first. Again, like the backpack if you buy a quality laptop freshman year and you take care of your laptop it will last you all four years without slowing down or breaking. I personally use a 11 inch MacBook Air for looking up things on the internet, typing papers, and just light load activities, but I also have a 16 inch lenovo thinkpad that runs all of my engineering programs and heavy duty programs.

These are my top ten essentials for surviving college. What are yours? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm a 20-something gal living in Philly working a 9-to-5 by day and blogging by night. I enjoy exploring new places, finding sustainable swaps, and learning to live a more intentional lifestyle.

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