Essential College Items

There’s so much to get together for college that you’re bound to forget things. And that’s when you start calling your mom, asking her to mail you your pet turtle, or trying to figure out whether Walgreens sells Twin Extra Long Sheets. You don’t want to be in that position. 

You can find real detailed checklists online (one of them is even written by your favorite university). I’m just going over some of the items I missed when I first packed for college.


It’s mighty sunny here at Illinois. For a long time. If you start frying after five minutes of sun exposure like I do, then you better bring along some sunscreen!


Here is the forecast for Champaign: sunny, sunny, sunny, sunny, sunny, sunn—RAINSTORM RUN RUN RUN—sunny, sunny, sunny…  You get the picture. When you least expect it, you’ll be walking to class in the wettest of the elements. Those small, shrimpy umbrellas will work fine, but they’ll probably turn inside out a whole lot with the wind. Maybe the real sturdy umbrellas do that too, but I don’t have any experience with real sturdy umbrellas.  

Walking Shoes

Sometimes in high school, it feels like you’re just sitting in a desk all day. With block scheduling, though, college can be completely different, and you’d be surprised at how much you have to walk. Spare your feet your first week and bring along some gym shoes or running shoes or sneakers (are those all the same thing? No.) or anything that has enough support for you to be comfortable in. 


Okay, maybe this one isn’t totally essential for you, but for people who enjoy letter writing, stamps are a must. Bring along five if you feel like it; you’ll get a kick out of writing to your other friends at college or to your pet turtle at home. 

And of course, if you’re bringing stamps, you’ll need envelopes. 


Any kind that works with your phone or computer or your roommate’s computer or anything. 

A watch

The biggest shock for me freshman year was that there weren’t any clocks in any of my classrooms. How the heck was anyone supposed to know if there were 25 minutes left or 13? By wearing a watch, it turned out. Cool kids just check their phones in class to see what time it is, but who needs to be cool? And watches can be huge helps during exams, even if your teacher is calling out the time every 15 minutes. Just beware for when it runs out of battery…


A thermometer is something that you only miss when you need one and don’t have it. If you’re feeling sick (and you will get sick sometime at college, probably during your first semester—everyone does) you’re going to want to find out if you have a fever or not. Of course, you can go to the McKinley Health Center, and you should if you need to, but it can be a trek, and unlike a sore throat or a cough, a fever is a common symptom that you need an (apparatus) to verify. 

And if you bring a thermometer, make sure to bring a pack of those plastic disposable  thermometer sleeves. 

For the love of the squirrels, don’t only bring those seven items to college—you need more than that! But when it comes time to pack, keep these items in the back of your head (no, not there—you’ll forget them. Keep them in your suitcase). The ambitious can start writing down what they need early on so that they’re not fumbling at the last minute. 

Good luck!

OH YEAH! And don’t forget your pet turtle. 


Class of 2020
I’m a senior here at the university, majoring in English and Math and minoring in Spanish. I’ve lived in Illinois all my life, sharing a room with my sister and many crickets. As the youngest in my family, I’m lucky enough to have my older siblings’ advice and perspective as I make my way through college!

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