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15+ Essential Items Every College Student Needs on their College Checklist

This post is all about items every college student needs. Affiliate links are used ~ meaning that *at no cost to you* I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. Full disclosure can be found here.

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You’re probably about to go buy out the entire college section at Target – don’t.

I know what you’re thinking because I’ve been there. It’s exciting to think about starting a new semester, especially if you’re going to be living on campus.

And on top of all of that, guess what?!

In all of your excitement, you’re probably still going to forget to get some of the things you’ll absolutely need throughout the semester. So I’m going to let you in on what every college student needs, whether you’re going to be living on campus or not.

This post is going to show you 15+ items every college student needs on their packing list.

But first, here’s the short list:

Top 5 Amazon Recommendations

Items Every College Student Needs:

1. The Ultimate Study Planner

study planner the metamorphosis
Check it out!

If you often struggle to keep your notes organized then these Study Planning Sheets will be your best friend. The best part is that you can print out these sheets as much as you like because they’re yours for life. 

Use them throughout college to achieve insanely organized notes! We also have a guide on How to Use The Study Planner that will help you out!

2. Swell Water Bottle

S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle - 25 Fl Oz - Geode Rose - Triple-Layered Vacuum-Insulated Containers Keeps Drinks Cold for 48 Hours and Hot for 24 - BPA-Free - Perfect for the Go
  • TRIPLE-LAYERED INSULATION: S’well Geode Rose 25oz stainless steel water bottles feature triple-layered, vacuum-insulated construction, designed to keep beverages cold for up to 54 hours or hot for up to 26 with our exclusive Therma-S’well Technology. Each water bottle features unique colors, prints, patterns and textures, all while delivering superior functionality. Hand-wash only
  • THE PERFECT FIT: Our metal water bottles and beverage containers are designed with an opening wide enough for most ice cubes so you can easily refill and reuse it over and over. Whether you're hitting the road, bike trails, or the gym, you’ll find S’well fits just right in most standard-size cup holders
  • DON’T SWEAT IT: S'well beverage containers are insulated with a copper wall layer to eliminate condensation by providing an exterior that won't sweat on your hands or in your bag
  • WORRY-FREE HYDRATION: Your search for safety is over. All S’well containers are BPA-free and composed of 18/8 premium food-grade stainless steel. We are compliant with California Prop 65 regulations and our products are certified to meet all regulatory requirements by an independent and accredited testing facility
  • SUSTAINABLITY WITHOUT COMPROMISE: You won’t have to compromise fashion and functionality to live more sustainably with our sleek, beautifully crafted, built to last bottles. Every S’well purchased counts towards displacing millions of single-use plastic bottles. As a Certified B Corp, we proudly maintain the highest levels of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability

I got one of these as a gift and I must say that it was the gift I didn’t know I needed!!!

These water bottles are designed to keep your drinks hot for 12 hours, and cold for 24 hours.

I used mine all the time for my smoothies and tea when I would study late in the library.

3. Portable Charger

[Upgraded] Portable Charger Yoobao Power Bank Mini 5000mAh Powerbank 2-Output & 2-Input External Cellphone Battery Backup Pack Compatible iPhone 11 Pro Max 11 Xr X Samsung S20/20+ & More - Pink
  • 【Super Slim Portable Phone Charger】As slim as a credit card and as light as an iPhone, this 5000mAh portable charger has super mini size which you can put it into a purse or pocket without any problem.
  • 【2 Outputs & 2 Inputs】This mini portable charger has 2 USB outputs which can charge 2 cellphones at the same time. It also has 2 inputs (iPhone and Micro) which supports recharging through either of iPhone cable or Micro cable. It is special convenient for iPhone users who only need one iPhone cable to charge their devices and also charge the power bank itself. [Not include iPhone or USB-C cable].
  • 【Power Your Phone All Day】5000mAh capacity can offer an iPhone 11 Pro one full charge,a Samsung Galaxy S20 one full charge, keeping your phone live all day. It is a small battery backpack standby for your emergency use during your shuttle or hang-out.
  • 【Safe and Stable Performance】Equipped with intelligent charging chip and premium battery cell, this slim power bank can protect your phone from over charging,short-circuit,over voltage etc., provide you with safe and stable charging experience.
  • 【What You Get】You'll receive a Yoobao 5000mAh slim power bank, a Micro USB cable,a user manual,18-month worry-free warranty and lifetime user-friendly customer support.

Another great essential for college life. If you’re out and about, you’re not always going to have time to charge your phone.

Also, if you don’t have an extra long charger, you may be inconvenienced when you have to use your phone while it’s charging. With this portable charger, you can be the sloth you want to be in bed on your phone while it’s charging (right there with ya!)

4. Airpods / Bluetooth headphones

Apple AirPods with Charging Case (Wired)
  • Automatically on, automatically connected
  • Easy setup for all your Apple devices
  • Quick access to Siri by saying “Hey Siri”
  • Double-tap to play or skip forward
  • New Apple H1 headphone chip delivers faster wireless connection to your devices

Let’s be real for a second – Apple really had us messed up when they removed the port for your headphones in the new iPhones. Now, you can’t even charge your phone and listen to music at the same time.

It’s better to get the Airpods because they’re Bluetooth enabled so you don’t have to deal with that problem. You also don’t have to deal with your wire getting caught in something when you’re trying to listen to music and ignore everything around you.

P.S. As a student, don’t forget your get your Prime Student 6 month trial!

5. Card Holder

Premium Leather Credit Card Holder Stick On Wallet iPhone Android Smartphones (Rose Gold Leather) Wallaroo
  • REAL LEATHER - Made with Rich, Luxurious 100% Genuine Leather
  • COMPATIBLE WITH NEARLY EVERY SMARTPHONE - Compatible with the following smartphones: iPhone 10+ Plus, iPhone 12, iPhone 6+ (or higher), iPhone 6+ Plus, Samsung Galaxy S5+, S11, S12, Galaxy Note 10, 3+, LG, Google Pixel, Nexus, HTC, Sony Xperia and many many more! Works with nearly ANY phone case including: Spigen, Otterbox, Lifeproof, Belkin, Speck, Apple and more! Any phone or case with a width of 2.5 inches / 6.4 cm
  • BUILT TO LAST - Strong 3M Adhesive keeps Wallaroo Attached Firmly to your Phone
  • SECURE FIT FOR YOUR CARDS - Non-Slip Interior Grip keeps Cards Firmly Within Wallaroo
  • LEAVE THE WALLET AT HOME - Whether you're going to the beach, the bar, or the gym, leave your wallet behind, and only carry the essentials like your ID, credit card holder, and cash.

I was late to this party because I thought it looked tacky. However, I soon realized how vital this little thing is.

No one wants to carry around their purse or wallet with them everywhere they go. Sometimes you just don’t want to carry anything if you’re just making a quick run. These card holders come in handy when you’re going out because you can easily store your ID and possibly a debit/credit card and access them quickly when you need to.

Definitely one of the things every college student needs!

Related: 30 Things that will Transform Your College Dorm Room

6. Mattress Topper

LUCID 3-inch Ventilated Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper - Twin XL
  • 3 inches of ventilated gel memory foam adds softness and pressure-relieving comfort to your mattress
  • Special memory foam formula is extremely soft, airy and responsive
  • Ventilated design improves airflow for a more comfortable sleep climate
  • Memory foam is infused with a plush gel material that captures heat to control temperature
  • New foam scent is normal and will dissipate over the first 48 hours after opening; this product features a 3-year warranty

I remember when I tried to do without my mattress topper my sophomore year of college because I was too cheap to buy another one. Never again.

I was extremely uncomfortable when I slept which led to me not really sleeping much. I also woke up feeling sore and had back pains throughout the day.

Dorm beds are arguably one of the most uncomfortable things you can sleep on. You seriously need a mattress topper if you’re going to make it through to the end of the semester!

P.S. If you’re a freshman and need some ideas for your dorm next semester, check out this post on how to decorate your dorm room!

7. Desk lamp

TW Lighting IVY-40WT The IVY LED Desk Lamp with USB Port, 3-Way Touch Switch, White
  • Built-in USB outlet port phone & Perfect device charging for charging iPhone & android smart cell phones; Extending, adjusting neck – great space saver; Cool stylish white modern contemporary design with touch dimmable brightness
  • 3 level dimmer dimming from task to ambient light; Nichia high efficiency LED, best longest lasting; Save up to 65% energy –uses as little as 3 watts
  • Great for home, office, college dorm, school, hotel; Basic style for men, women, teens, kids, students; For computer or writing desk, bed side table; For homework, study, book reading, indirect light; Perfect for secretary, typist, editor, accountant and more
  • Energy star rated, UL listed, 12v plug-in power; 7 watts, up to 500 lumens 80+ CRI, 4000 Kelvin; USB cords not included, made in China; 14”D x 4.2”W x 16”H (extended); 76” 12V Power Cord
  • Due to a poor packaging from the manufacturer, we have to open each item and add additional protection to prevent scratches or dents. Please contact the seller directly for a replacement or refund if you’re not satisfied with the item.

I promise you, your overhead light in your dorm room will not be enough.

I don’t know about you, but mine was as dull as I don’t know what. It barely made a difference.

If you’re going to be doing your makeup, homework, our you just want to SEE, get a desk lamp.

8. Planner

2021-2022 Planner - Weekly, Monthly and Yearly Planner with Monthly Tabs, 6.3" x 8.4", July 2021 - June 2022, Thick Paper, Inner Pocket, Blue
  • ❄ STYLISH PLANNER - The smoothly faux leather cover planner is perfect choice for organizing your life. It featuring 12 months of monthly and weekly pages for easy full year 2021-2022 planning and scheduling.
  • ❄ THICK ACID FREE PAPER - The planner 2021-2022 (July 2021 - June 2022) features 136 white pages made from acid-free paper, which means it resists damage from light and air, ensuring long-lasting performance from one year to the next. The premium paper is environmentally friendly and protects eyes from strain because we use natural materials.
  • ❄ FUNCTIONAL & LAY FLAT PLANNER - Planner 2021-2022 includes a convenient list of holidays, 2021-2022 reference calendars, 1 quick reference information, 2 contacts pages and extra 1 note pages to accommodate your scheduling needs. Use the handy pocket to stash business card, small items, or what ever you like. Planner lays flat for easy writing and ideal size to tuck in your handbag, diaper bag or carry-on!
  • ❄ LOOK BACK ON YOUR AMAZING YEAR! An attached elastic closure keeping the 2021-2022 planner securely closed to reminisce about all your wonderful memories and social events.
  • ❄ SPECIAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE - If you have any quality problems just return it and we will send you a full refund. Give us a chance and let us show you a great 2021-2022 planner experience!

You might be thinking, “I don’t need this I can remember things if I commit it to memory.”

Please don’t do this to yourself.

At some point in time, you’ll be bombarded with assignments and events/activities for student organizations. It’s going to be very hard to try to remember it all and it can put you under unnecessary stress if you forget.

Do yourself a favor and get a planner and your life will be so much easier!

9. Rain boots

Hunter Womens Original Short Black Matte Rain Boot - 5 B(M) US
  • Hunter Size Chart
  • Note: Select your US size. Please be advised, the product and box will display UK, US and Euro sizing. For US sizing, both men's and women's sizing is displayed. Men's sizing is represented by "M" and women's sizing is represented by "F".
  • Strut the Hunter™ Original Short Boot down the streets, into the city and back to the countryside with ease.
  • Vulcanized natural rubber construction.
  • Signature Hunter logo on the front. Quick dry woven nylon lining. Multi-layer cushioned sponge insole. Please keep in mind that the buckle on this boot is merely decorative and should not be used as an aid to pull the boot on. Traditional calendared natural rubber sole. The brand advises that a white wax film may appear on the surface of the rubber boots and that it can be wiped off with a damp cloth. This "blooming" effect is not a defect. Blooming is caused when the boots are exposed to extrem

I promise you, there will come a day when your sneakers will not be enough.

10. Umbrella

Repel Umbrella Windproof Travel Umbrella - Compact, Light, Automatic, Strong and Portable - Wind Resistant, Small Folding Backpack Umbrella for Rain - Men and Women
  • ☔ Say Goodbye to Large, Difficult Umbrellas: Windproof umbrella has a one button auto open and close design and a compact, lightweight frame (29cm) perfect for travel, fitting into any bag with ease
  • ☔ 9 Rib, Double Vented Windproof Canopy: Our black umbrella features 9 resin reinforced fiberglass ribs that withstand the strongest gusts of wind and are designed to give, not break, preserving your umbrella should you face extreme conditions. The canopy on our small umbrella is double vented, which lets wind pass through while keeping you dry
  • ☔ Teflon Coated for Superior Protection and Repellency: Our umbrellas for rain are designed to beat back Mother Nature. No matter the conditions, you'll stay dry. The canopy of our folding umbrella features a Teflon coating that sheds water and resists the extreme punishment of the sun, keeping you protected
  • ☔ World Renowned Workmanship: Featured on TV and on Wire Cutter, our portable umbrella is known for its durability, functionality, and size. From its ergonomic rubberized grip to its small size, our compact umbrella is designed for travel and protection from whatever mother nature can throw your way
  • ☔ Lifetime Replacement Policy: You're protected for life from the rain, snow, and sun through our lifetime replacement policy. If anything goes wrong with one of your rain umbrellas, we'll send you a replacement; no return is required. We strive for the highest customer service

While we’re on the topic – you definitely need an umbrella.

Don’t be inconvenienced and have to take cover when it rains. Do yourself a favor and get a good umbrella (not one of those tiny ones that pretty much just covers your head alone).

Related: 30+ Dorm Room Storage Ideas to Maximize Your Space
PSSST Have you gotten your Prime Student 6 month trial yet? Click here to sign up!

11. Surge Protector

Huntkey USB C Power Strip with 12 Outlets Surge Protector, 12W USB-A, PD 18W Type C Port, 6-Foot Heavy Duty Extension Cord (2390J)
  • USB C Outlets: 1 USB-C port, 1 USB-A port, and 12 AC outlets power up to 14 devices from a single wall outlet.
  • Room for All: 12 outlet maximum rated power is 1875W/125V/15A. It designs extra space outlets for larger plugs.
  • High-Speed Charging: 2 USB ports total 30W. USB-A delivers 12W (5V 2.4A).18W PD USB-C port can charge up to 2.5X faster than normal.
  • 2390J Surge Protector: Safeguards and overload switch can protect your devices against overcurrent, overcharging, overheating, and short-circuit.
  • All-around Protection: ETL, FCC listed. Using green materials which has a strong fire-resistance, grade: UL-V0.

You know who has time to switch out cords in the outlets all the time? No one that’s who.

Getting a surge protector will safely allow you to plug in all your devices PLUS avoid having to crawl behind your furniture to plug/unplug something.

12. Towel Wrap

anatolian Women's Body WRAP Towel - 100% Cotton Adjustable Cover Up for Beach Spa Gym Bath Pool (Light Pink, 1)
  • Natural soft cotton plush Terry Velour Body Wrap for Women as an alternative to bulky bathrobes to provide practicality to your daily life. Easy on and off with no sleeves.
  • Elegant styling, adjustable strip closure with elastic waist band. Multi-needle stitching to provide durability. No harmful chemicals, eco friendly for your best use with OEKO-TEX 100 global textile standards.
  • Great for spa, bath, beach, pool, gym, yoga, shower, hotel when ever-where ever you need. Terry velour weave is naturally absorbent for quick drying. If you want to pay close attention to your hygiene, make sure to have your wrap with you in your travels for personal use. This is an essential towel in your linen closet, gym bag, suitcase, RV, yacht or boat and makes them ideal for your bathing needs.
  • Each wrap's weight is about 1.3 lb. These wraps are offered only in ONE SIZE 28-29 inches long (top to bottom skirt length) and 55-56 inches wide at the bottom of the skirt. Top of the wrap has a sewn in elastic band in it's hem to allow adjustments around bust. Therefore, wraps are designed to fit to sweep around chest up to 48-50 inches depending on your sense of comfort. Please use these dimensions for the best fit before purchasing. Velcro strip closure to make adjustments is 8 inches long.
  • Look out for anatolian towel products, wraps, cabana beach towels, and bathrobes for more selections and matching men's products. Essential item for a college dorm. They are also great for presenting as a gift at an anniversary, Christmas, or any other special event. One can even order them for your bridesmaids.

You know who has time to hold their towel up to prevent it from slipping every 5 seconds? You guessed it. No one.

This is literally one of the best things I’ve ever bought. Like it’s so minor but it’s brought me so much joy. Anyway.

Every college student needs at least one of these!

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13. Laptop

Apple MacBook Air (13-Inch Retina Display, 1.6GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5, 128GB) - Silver (Previous Model)
  • Stunning 13.3-Inch Retina Display
  • Touch ID and the latest Apple-designed keyboard and force touch trackpad
  • Dual-core 8th-Generation Intel Core i5 Processor with Intel UHD Graphics 616
  • Fast SSD Storage and 8GB memory
  • Stereo speakers with wider Stereo sound

I’d recommend investing in a good laptop that will last you your entire college career.

I had a cheap one during freshman year and I had to get a new one because it stopped working. Ever since I’ve gotten a Mac, I’ve never and will never look back! Highly recommend!

14. Small Vacuum

Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik Vacuum Cleaner, 3-in-1 Hand and Stick Vac, Small, Lightweight and Bagless, SD20000RED, Red
  • 3-IN-1: Simpli-Stik’s easily transforms to whatever you need: a stick vac, a hand vac, or an extended hand vac; Dirt cup capacity: 0.35 liters
  • EASY TO USE: Take the chore out of cleaning with this lightweight, ready-when-you-are bagless stick vacuum cleaner – Even from right out of the box
  • LIGHHTWEIGHT AND POWERFUL: Tidy up your hard floors and rugs with powerful straight suction. Tackle tight, hard to reach places with the hand vac on-board crevice tool combo
  • GREAT FOR SMALL SPACES: The light, compact, and versatile vacuum design makes this great for dorms, apartments, and small spaces to store, use, and clean up easily
  • RINSABLE FILTER: Keep your vacuum running stronger for longer with the easily accessed filter. Be sure to let the filter dry at least 24 hours before its next use

If you’re going to be living on campus you absolutely need a vacuum! This one is small so it’s conveniently stored and it gets the job done.

You’re going to spill your food on the floor every now and then. You’ll also have room checks by your RA so you’ll definitely need this mini vacuum!

Honorable mention: College Dorm Room Bundles

OCM College Dorm Room 27-Piece Varsity Pak | Twin XL | with Topper, Comforter, Sheets, Towels, Storage, Clip Lamp & More | Kiss Pleat Calypso and Gray | Grays and Whites, Pinch Pleats
  • VALUE & CONVENIENCE: This 27-Piece Varsity Pak makes you move-in ready for the college dorm. A beautiful, warm and cozy fully-reversible comforter. Two soft and velvety microfiber sheet sets. Even a mattress topper, mattress pad, 2 extra-fluffy pillows, plush blanket, and throw. Underbed storage and a bedside caddy to stay organized. Two 100% cotton bath sets with oversize bath sheets. Even a clip lamp. And there's more included. Best of all, buying as a bundle saves a bundle.
  • KISS PLEAT CALYPSO AND GRAY: We love this premium bedding set for its soothing shades and rich texture. You'll love it for the easy versatility it brings to your personal space. The gray and white comforter has soft patterning and pretty kiss-pleats for cozy texture. The neutral palette all comes together with solid gray and gray and white print sheet sets.
  • READY FOR ANYTHING. The Varsity Pak is loaded with everyday necessities plus extras to make your dorm room a "home away from home." Bedding and bath is cozy and soft. A mattress topper, quilted pad, extra pillow and blanket make for a cozy restful sleep, even on college dorm mattresses. Oversized bath sheets are for a little luxury. Storage and a bedside caddy help keep the dorm room tidy. With a clip light for late nights, you're ready for anything.
  • ALWAYS THE RIGHT FIT: The Varsity Pak fits XL twin beds on campus perfectly. All the bedding items are twin XL sized: the comforter, both sheet sets, the mattress topper, the quilted mattress pad, and blanket. The twin XL bed sheets have deeper 10" pockets to accommodate mattress pads and toppers.
  • EASY TO CARE FOR & GUARANTEED: Everything you need to wash is machine washable: comforter, sheets, towels, mattress pad - even the pillows. This makes it easy to care for. And it's Guaranteed 'Til Graduation. Egg crate colors may vary.

items every college student needs

P.S. They both come in a lot more colors and designs!

Shopping for your dorm room can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. These college bundles make your life a heck of a lot easier because they include all the basic items you need like your comforter, mattress, topper, sheets, and more.

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Written by The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is a lifestyle blog about the journey of college to adulting. Here you can find the tips for college, self-improvement, adulting, and more.

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