Your First Year of College Essentials – The Checklist

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Moving into the dorms can be simultaneously exciting and mystifying. Once high school graduation happens, you don’t have many days to prepare for your big transition from home to your own space. You may be wondering what exactly you will need for school, with this checklist, we break down the bare-bones essentials for your first year.

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Class Gear and Technology

While you may feel like you’re a pro at using technology in school, college can present a totally unique challenge. While getting to and from class in high school involves lockers, bells chiming, and teachers to guide you, college will require you to be independent. To make sure you’re prepared for the first lecture, here is the school gear you will need:

School/Desk Supplies

  • Durable, waterproof, and comfortable backpack or larger purse
  • Ample writing utensils, highlighters
  • Notebooks with tear off paper, index cards, and labels/sticky notes
  • Folders for each class
  • Calendar organizer with space to write assignment due dates
  • Paper clips, stapler, rubber bands, and scissors

Technology

  • Desktop, laptop, notebook, or tablet
  • Headphones (noise canceling is an added bonus!)
  • Power chargers, surge protectors, and general batteries
  • Voice recording device for note taking
  • Extra phone charger (you’ll thank us)

Dorm Necessities

Your dorm room will be the place that you not only sleep, but also you will also work, study, eat, and socialize. Think of it as a mini-home all confined to a tiny space. To utilize the limited area, you will need to plan and choose your dorm necessities wisely. Here is how to break it all down:

Linens*

*We recommend bringing at least two sets of all linens in case of spills, laundry days, or just a need for a fresh change over.

  • Extra-long (XL) sized bedding (mattress pad and protector, fitted and flat sheets, and a comforter or quilt)
  • Pillows and pillowcases
  • Bath towels and hand towels
  • Bath mats for shared bathrooms
  • Extra blankets or throw pillows

Storage and Organization

  • Laundry basket or hamper, hangers, clothing trunks
  • Under the bed storage organizer, closet organizer, and/or over the door organizer
  • Desk organizers
  • Trash can

Decor

  • Desk or bedside lamp(s)
  • Dry erase board or cork board
  • Picture frames
  • Poster or art work with sticky hooks or tape to hang wall decor
  • Dorm area rug and/or welcome mat

Dining Goods

  • Pot and pan
  • Bowl, plate, mug (for two)
  • Silverware (for two)
  • Water bottle and/or travel mug
  • Cooking spoon and spatula

Cleaning Items

  • Dish scrubs, towels, and sponges
  • All purpose cleaner, dish soap, and wipes
  • Laundry detergent, stain fighting pen, and dryer sheets
  • Floor cleaner such as a mop and/or small vacuum
  • Trash bags
  • Tissues and paper towels
  • Toilet paper and specific bathroom cleaners if using a shared bathroom

Personal Care Items

Emergencies can strike at any time. From simple cuts and bruises to fashion disasters, being away from the luxury of home can be daunting. Instead, always be prepared with the following items that will ensure you’re safe, pampered, and happy in your new dorm room:

  • First aid kit (bandages, gauze, rubbing alcohol, tweezers, etc.)
  • Aspirin or other pain reliever
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Over-the-counter stomach relievers and cough drops
  • Prescription medication + refills
  • Mini sewing kits
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Umbrella

Daily Toiletries

  • Shower supplies (shampoo, conditioner, soap, moisturizer, razor, shaving cream)
  • Waterproof shower caddy and shower shoes
  • Toothbrush (2), toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash
  • Comb or brush, hair dryer, and hair care products and supplies
  • Tweezers, nail clippers, and mini scissors
  • Makeup and makeup supplies
  • Perfumes, colognes, and deodorants

Knowing the essential items to put on your checklist for college can put you on the right track for move-in day. If possible, check in with friends or roommates before purchasing bigger items that can be shared, like printers. Plus, always review your dorm’s rules on what is and isn’t allowed. Get ready to shop!

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Freshman Year All Over Again?

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I think one of the most scary things about college is the fact that, in a way, you have to go through the beginning of high school all over again. You have to enter a completely new environment filled with strangers and try to figure everybody out, form new friendships, and learn how to operate on your own in a place that you’re not used to. I remember freshman year of high school when you had to get to know people in addition to putting yourself out there to others, things I’ll have to do come fall when I start my freshman year of college.

You have to walk the fine line of being outgoing but not coming on too strong. You want to come across as laid back but not completely careless. You want to convey some level of sophistication, but not look like a snob. I’ll be meeting a slew of new people and I won’t know right away what, if anything, we have in common. But I’ll have to find a way to keep the conversation moving, avoiding awkward pauses at all costs.

Sometimes I think this social change-up is a challenge particularly difficult for kids my age. Technology has given us devices, especially cell phones, that allow us to ‘check out’ of the real world at any moment. Sitting around people we don’t know that well, we’ve always had the option of texting or going on the internet via a cellphone instead of trying to have a conversation with the people around us. Maybe that’s made us a bit less used to reaching out of our comfort zone and starting interactions with strangers. But like it or not, this fall all those attending their first year of college of will have to bite the bullet and find a way to navigate a completely new social scene. Hopefully, considering we’re four years more mature, it’s a little easier of a transition than the one to high school!

Freshmen Rejection

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Enrolling in college means no more rejection letters; however, for freshmen that doesn’t mean no more rejection. The class of 2016 is quickly discovering that being good at something in high school doesn’t necessarily mean being good at the same thing in college. Fall sports and clubs tryouts have come and gone and they’ve left a good amount of freshmen behind. These rejections cause confusion, sadness, and frustration, but there are ways to look at it as a good thing.

I was recently rejected from the Big Red Dance Team. I was on my high school varsity dance team for four years and I was captain my senior year: I was not used to being rejected from dance. The thing was, I didn’t really enjoy dance team in high school, I did it to fill my time. So when I got to Denison, I thought I would join the dance team to keep me busy, not because I really wanted to. My first reaction to the rejection email was shock. I was good at dance, how could I have possibly not made it? It took me a few days to realize this email was a good thing. I shouldn’t continue my old habits of doing things I don’t love just to fill time. I took this rejection as a good opportunity to join clubs or groups that I’m actually excited about. I started going to several different club meetings and seeing what I liked. I went to some that I thought were weird, but I also went to some that I really liked and want to join.

Rejection is hard to hear, but sometimes rejection can open new doors. Getting cut from the tennis team or an acappella group, or for me the dance team, doesn’t mean that there is nothing else to do. There are so many groups and clubs at every school that suit a variety of interests, it just takes willingness to look and find the ones that are appealing. Rejection doesn’t only open new doors; it also gives freshmen the experience of being turned down. When 2016 rolls around and our freshmen class is thrown into the real world, we’ll be turned down at several job interviews before we score one. Having the experience of what rejection feels like and knowing that it can bring us something better will prepare us for the real world.

Thinking about it now, the dance team did me a favor. If I had made the team, I probably would have been on it all four years and would have never gotten to experience something new. Now, I’m exploring all my options. It’s scary not having the comfort of knowing what I’m doing but it’s also exciting and I can’t wait to see what I end up joining. Rejection gave me the opportunity to try new things, and really that’s what college is all about.

The Essential Freshman Move-in Checklist

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No one wants to forget something on Move-in Day, especially with the current gas prices. You’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money tracking down a replacement. So don’t leave anything at home when you move into the residence halls. In order to stay organized and ensure you’ve got all of your dorm room supplies. Use the handy checklist below to keep track of everything you need.

For your Extra-long Twin Bed

Xl Twin sheets

Bedspread, comforter, or quilt

Extra Blanket

Throw/blanket

Pillow

Extra Pillowcases

Throw Pillow(s)

Backrest pillow

XL Mattress Pad

XL Mattress cover

For the Dorm Room

Alarm Clock

Bedside light and/or clip lamp

Fan

Floor lamp

Book shelves

Trash can

Mirror

Beside rug/carpet

Surge Protector (check school requirements)

For your Bathroom

Towels

Hand towels

Soap, razor, lotion etc

Shower tote

Robe

Shower shoes/sandals

Hair and makeup supplies

Storage and Organizational Supplies

Trunk w/ lock

Hangers (bring more than you need)

Under the bed storage containers

Laundry hamper

Desk drawer organizer

Hanging garment organizer

Shoe rack

Bedside hanging shelf

For Entertainment

TV

DVD player

Ipod player

Video game consoles and controllers

Camera and charger

DVD’s/Blu-ray’s

Cell phone

All chargers/connection cordss

Dorm Room Decor

Posters

Photographs

Wall shelf

Dry erase board (hang it on the door to leave messages for your roommate(s)

Tacks

Calendar

Tape

Cleaning and Other Supplies

Trash bags

Window/mirror cleaner

Duster

Small vacuum

Mop/Swiffer

Bucket (use your trashcan as a double)

Rags

Bathroom cleaner (if private bathroom)

Paper towels

Tissues

Light bulbs

Batteries

Classroom Necessities

Computer and power cord

Laptop lock

Pens

Pencils

Highlighters

Notebooks

Binder

Stapler

Backpack or tote

Folders

Hole puncher

Portfolio

Scissors

Printer and USB cord

Kitchen Supplies

Plates (just 2 or 3 will work)

Silverware

Mugs

Glasses

Water filter

Refrigerator/freezer (if allowed)

Microwave (if allowed)

Plastic containers

Emergency snacks and quick meals

Reusable water bottle

Pot (preferably microwave and stove-top safe)

Coffee pot (if allowed)

Emergency Supplies

First aid kit

Sewing Kit

Flashlight

Tool kit

For Bad Weather

Umbrella

Rain jacket

Snow boots

Rain boots

Winter coat

The Freshmen Move-in Day Guide

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Move-in Day can be a lot more complicated than it has to be. If you’re not prepared, you’ll probably waste a lot of time and energy searching for the things you forgot or trying to find out how to get to your residence hall. So here is our guide on the best way to approach Move-in Day.

Pack Early

About a week before Move-in Day you should start getting ready. Pack up all your stuff, triple check your drawers, and make sure that you’ve checked off every single thing on your checklist. Forgetting even one small thing can be a very costly and exhausting mistake. After unpacking your car, the last thing you’ll want to do is head out on a wild goose chase for extra-long twin sheets that will actually fit your bed.

Prepare the Night Before-

There are three things that you should do the day before you plan to move in to your college dorm.

1) Load the Car

If the care is loaded and ready to go, you’ll have a lot more free time to primp in the morning and make sure that you didn’t forget anything.

2) Print out the Directions

The directions on you GPS or cell phone are probably flawless most of the time, but move-in day is practically guaranteed to be the one day your device fails. So make sure you know exactly where your residence hall is located and how to get there ahead of time.

3) Check for University Instructions

Make sure you know how to get your room keys, where to park, and what time you need to arrive by. This information is usually available on your universities website, and can help you avoid a lot of stress.

Get Up Early

The sooner you get started the better. So get up early and get ready to hit the road ASAP.

Dress for Success

Yes, you probably want to wear your sneakers so that you’ll be comfortable climbing 5 flights of stairs and carrying 18 boxes of stuff up to your room. However, make sure you look good too. After all, this is your first time meeting everyone in your residence hall.

Enjoy your Ride

Don’t let traffic or a wrong turn stress you out. Travel with someone you love to hang out with and enjoy your journey to college. You want to be in a good mood when you get there.

Follow the Identical T-shirt wearing Upperclassmen

They’re there to help. If you’ve got a question or need a hand carrying up your stuff don’t hesitate to ask the university welcoming committee. They’ll quickly direct you to the sign-in area, help you unload your car, and tell you the best way to get to your dorm room.

Sign-In

This is the best time to ask any questions that you may have about residence hall security, your mailing address, or where to pick up your mail. Don’t hesitate.

Get a Good Look

Once you’ve signed in it’s time to head up to your dorm, and get your first look at your home for the next 9 months. If your roommate beat you to the room, you’ll probably get stuck with the squeaky bed and broken wardrobe, but if you’re there first make sure you choose carefully.

Do the Inspection

Before you carry in all your stuff and cram you room with boxes and suitcases, complete any required room inspections. Be sure to write down even the smallest scratches and scuff marks in the room, just in case.

Meet your Roommate-

When you meet your roommate and his/her parents for the first time don’t get nervous. Shake their hands and look them in the eyes as you introduce yourself. Make a good first impression and everything will run smoother.

Financial Aid, Student ID, and Other Important Things

After you finish unpacking, it’s time to care of any lingering questions or issues. If you need to pay a visit to the financial aid office now is the time to do it. Your parents will probably be more than willing to tag along.

Say Goodbye

You have to options. Kiss Mom and Dad on the check and wave them off or join them for a last meal. If you choose to grab lunch together consider inviting your roommate and his/her family to join you. It will be a great bonding experience, and what’s the worst that could happen.

Introduce Yourself

Once you’re emotional goodbyes are over and Mom and Dad have left it’s time to start getting to know your residence hall. If you’re an outgoing person hit the halls (with or without your roommate) and stop in each open doorway to introduce yourself. If you’re too shy to put yourself out there like that, just leave your door open as you unpack and talk to everyone who stops by.

Get Involved

Be sure to join the students in your hall if they head off to dinner together, and stop by any university events for freshman. That’s the best way to make some friends.

Image: USM

Five Things I wish I’d Known before Freshmen Year

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I wish I’d known a lot of things before I set foot on campus. Like the fact that Main building actually has three separate sections (good luck finding that information anywhere) and replacing my student ID would cost me $20. Information like that would have saved me a lot of stress and cash.

However, since I can’t give you all the ins and outs about your university, (find a current student for those tips) here are five more general things I wish I had been made aware of in advance.

1 – Not all of my clothes would fit in my closet

I’d been told that dorm rooms are small, I’d even heard a few humorous tales, but I’d never been in one. Just how small my dorm room was didn’t click until I started unpacking all my clothes and found that 40% of my essentials didn’t fit. My wardrobe was tiny and there was not enough extra space under my bed. It took me hours to sort through all my clothes and send my mom home with the unfortunate (and sincerely missed) cast offs.

2-  Just because I could balance 6 classes in high school doesn’t mean I could do it in college

Classes met almost every day in my high school and we had weeks to get the work done for major projects. College was a different world. My first college course my professor told us that we had to write an essay every single week, starting week one and it spiraled downward from there. Eventually I built up the ability to handle a large course load but I couldn’t make the adjustment quickly enough for my first semester.

3 – First year grades matter the most

It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re in college, especially in your freshmen year, but one bad grade stays with you forever. Don’t mess up in freshmen English and basic math courses because you didn’t put the effort in, those blemishes will mar your GPA forever.

4-Independence isn’t all it’s cracked up to BE

Living on your own means dealing with a lot of responsibility. Sure you get to decorate your own dorm room, but you also have to feed yourself, clean your own dorm, do your own laundry, and manage your own finances. There’s no curfew, but there’s also no one to give you a ride home from the library after a long day of studying. Sometimes I’d really get homesick.

5- The Honors Dorms aren’t just smart kids

The honors students know how to have fun. They’re not a bunch of geeks and nerds that have been cordoned off to the smart dorms. They’re a group of students that know when to have a good time and when to prioritize their homework. The stereotypes developed in high school don’t really follow in college.

Image: Cachinko

Get Excited for College

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Congratulations! You’ve made your decision

You finally dropped your first deposit in the mail, and now you have the entire summer to get ready for the fall.

That means you’ve got just a few more weeks of high school to survive, a graduation ceremony, and then 3 months to soak up as much sunshine and fun as you can.

Enjoy the Little Things

As your senior year comes to an end, take some time to immerse yourself in the things you truly enjoy. Don’t waste time worrying about how things will change, just appreciate the things that you do have in your life, such as free time at the pool and hours to spend hanging with your best friends. Change is scary, but heading off to college is one change that you should be truly excited about.

Take a Family Vacation

Spend some time with your family this summer; go away on a few weekend getaways or take a week-long trip somewhere exotic (Mom and Dad might need a little convincing). Your siblings will be the best friends that you ever have, and you should take advantage of the time you have together. Plus a trip will give you plenty of fond memories for your first few weeks in the residence halls.

Get Excited about your Future

In just a few months you’re going to take your first step towards real independence. You’re going to be a college student. Soon you’ll be living in the dorms, studying for your dream career, and experiencing things you’ve never even imagined. You should be excited about what’s coming, and eager to head off to your college campus. You’re taking the first step towards your future.

Plan Ahead

It’s never too early to start getting ready for your move to campus. Start talking to your roommate about color schemes and room designs as soon as you get his or her contact information. And start shopping for all of your dorm essentials, like extra-long twin sheets, right away. The more involved you get in planning your life on campus the more excited and ready you will be.