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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. 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

Yoobao Portable Charger, 20W PD3.0/QC4.0 Mini Power Bank Fast Charging 10000mAh, USB-C (in & Out) Ultra-Compact Battery Pack (2-Output & 2-Input) for iPhone/Galaxy/iPad
  • 🔁 USB-C PD OUTPUT & INPUT - The USB-C port is not only for Input, but also for Output, which adopts PD3.0 two-way fast charging technology. Not only does it charge your iPhone quickly, but also fast recharge the power bank itself.

  • 20W PD FAST CHARGING TECHNOLOGY - The USB-C port adopts 20W Power Delivery fast charging technology, which makes the portable charger to charge your iPhone to 50% in 30 minutes (with USB-C to L cable). What's more, the 18W USB-A port supports most QC3.0 compatible devices, charging speed is much faster than ordinary battery bank.

  • 🎁 ULTRA-COMPACT POCKET-SIZE - This portable power bank is super mini and pocket-size, easy to hold in hand or put into bag. Simple and elegant design, it's one of the must-have item for business trips and travel.

  • 🎄 2-INPUT & 2-OUTPUT- It looks like there are only 3 interfaces, but it can achieve Dual Input & Dual Output functions. Actually, the USB-C port is not only for Input, but also for Output. It means you can have both USB-C Input, 8-Pin Input(for iPhone), USB-C Ouput, USB-A Output. It can charge 2 devices at once.

  • SATISFACTORY AFTER-SALES SERVICE - Please kindly note that electronic products unavoidable have a few products that may not work. DON'T WORRY, if it happens, please contact us via Amazon message, we'll send a replacement to you.

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 (2nd Generation) Wireless Ear Buds, Bluetooth Headphones with Lightning Charging Case Included, Over 24 Hours of Battery Life, Effortless Setup for iPhone
  • HIGH-QUALITY SOUND — Powered by the Apple H1 headphone chip, AirPods (2nd generation) deliver rich, vivid sound.
  • EFFORTLESS SETUP — After a simple one-tap setup, AirPods are automatically on and always connected. They sense when they’re in your ears and pause when you take them out. And sound seamlessly switches between your iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, iPad, and Apple TV.
  • VOICE CONTROL WITH SIRI — Just say “Hey Siri” for assistance without having to reach for your iPhone.
  • 24-HOUR BATTERY LIFE — More than 24 hours total listening time with the Charging Case.
  • AUDIO SHARING — Easily share audio between two sets of AirPods on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV.

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 Phone Card Holder - Stick On Wallet for iPhone and Android Smartphones - Minimalist Style with Non-Slip Lining Secures Up to 3 Cards Kangaroo
  • TURN YOUR SMARTPHONE INTO A SMARTWALLET: Replace stuffed wallets or purses with this slim leather phone wallet that’s only 0.2 inches thick and secures essentials like ID, cash, and up to 3 credit cards
  • PREMIUM QUALITY: Imitation leather or cheap silicone doesn’t look great on your expensive smartphone; 100% genuine leather, luxurious colors, and premium materials likely to outlast your iPhone do
  • STRENGTH AND STYLE: Measuring 3.63 by 2.5 inches, this wallet phone case attaches to your cellphone with super strong 3M adhesive that’s immune to pocket heat, light moisture, and sweat
  • PROTECTS CASH AND CARDS LIKE A WALLAROO PROTECTS HER JOEY: This leather phone card holder is mighty in strength and security with a non-slip interior lining that grips valuables for your peace of mind
  • FITS SMARTPHONES AND CASES WITH A WIDTH OF 2.5 INCHES: iPhone 13, Pro, Pro Max, Mini, iPhone 12, 12 Pro, Pro Max; 12 Mini, 11, 11 Pro and Pro Max; XR, XS, X, and 8; Samsung Galaxy S10, S9, S8, S7, and Galaxy Note 10, 9, 8, 7; Google Pixel 4, 4XL, 3, 3XL 2, 2XL, LG, HTC, and Sony Xperia; Also popular phone cases: Spigen, Otterbox, Lifeproof, Belkin, Speck, and of course Apple - Sorry, iPhone 5 or SE we don’t fit ya mate

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 Memory Foam Mattress Topper, Gel Infused Twin XL Mattress Topper, CertiPUR-US Certified, Dorm Room Essentials
  • Ventilated design improves airflow for a more comfortable sleep climate
  • Special memory foam formula is extremely soft, airy and responsive
  • Memory foam is infused with a plush gel material that captures heat to control temperature
  • PROTECT YOUR BED – Protect the life of your memory foam topper with a waterproof mattress cover; All Lucid mattress protectors are designed to accommodate both a topper and mattress in one enclosure

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 Desk Lamps for Home Office - Super Bright Small Desk Lamp with USB Charging Port, a Perfect LED Desk Light as Study Lamp, Bedside Reading Lights, White
  • ✅[SIMPLE, ULTRA-EFFICIENT MODERN LED DESK LAMP] Created as a reading lamp for desk, this small lamp delivers a superior 500 lumen onto a space. The unobtrusive touch dimmer provides 3 level of brightness satisfies both task and ambiance lighting needs alike.
  • ✅[STURDY, HIGHLY MANEUVERABLE] Looking for a reliable dimmable desk lights for home office, reading lamps for bedside table, or a desk lamp for college dorm room, the IVY's 360° long-reach gooseneck allows you to redirect the natural, non-glare light wherever needed.
  • ✅[FAST CHARGING YOUR PORTABLE MOBILE DEVICES] For added convenience, a USB port is integrated into the sturdy small lamp base capable of fast charging your phone or devices in addition to providing you the lighting needs.
  • ✅[A PERFECT GIFT FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY] Versatile and functional makes the IVY desk lamp a preferable choice as their work from home office lamp, college study lamp, kids desk lamp, and replacement for piano lamp and bankers lamp.
  • ✅[MAKE TO LAST] 12V plug-in power adapter included; use only 7 watts, up to 500 lumens, 80+ CRI, 4000 Kelvin; USB cords not included.

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

2022 Planner - Weekly, Monthly and Yearly Planner with Monthly Tabs, 6.3" x 8.4", January 2022 - December 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 2022 planning and scheduling.
  • THICK ACID FREE PAPER - The planner 2022 (January 2022 - December 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 2022 includes a convenient list of holidays, 2022-2023 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 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 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
  • Perfect for wet weather conditions this Women's Rain Boot is a short version of the iconic Hunter Original Tall Boot
  • Featuring the Hunter Original tread pattern, and a comfortable polyester lining, this matte waterproof boot is a rainy-day necessity
  • Formed of natural rubber, each boot is handcrafted and assembled over three days before being vulcanized for superior protection
  • True to size, regular fit. We recommend that all boots be worn with Hunter custom socks to protect the wearer's skin from contact with rubber
  • Calf Width: 36cm around; Depth: 0.11cm; Heel Height: 3cm; Leg Height: 24cm

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

10. Umbrella

Repel Umbrella The Original Portable Travel Umbrella - Umbrellas for Rain Windproof, Strong Compact Umbrella for Wind and Rain, Perfect Car Umbrella, Golf Umbrella, Backpack, and On-the-Go
  • COMPACT UMBRELLA for TRAVEL: Easily portable, our travel umbrella weighs 15 oz and folds down to a mere 11.5" (29cm). It works great as a pocket umbrella, small umbrella for purse, and car umbrella
  • WINDPROOF UMBRELLA: Engineered with a double vented canopy, our black umbrella resists inversion and stands strong against powerful gusts, keeping you dry and protected in any weather
  • HEAVY DUTY UMBRELLA: With 9 sturdy fiberglass ribs, our wind resistant umbrella offers exceptional durability, ensuring reliable performance even during the most challenging weather conditions
  • WATER RESISTANT PORTABLE UMBRELLA: Featuring a Teflon coated canopy, our mini travel umbrella repels water effectively, allowing for a quick dry experience and minimizing the hassle of storage after use
  • AUTO OPEN and CLOSE FUNCTION: Convenient, our automatic umbrella opens and closes at the touch of a button. No more dealing with the hassle of manual rain umbrellas, get coverage instantly

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

Surge Protector Power Strip,Huntkey 12 Outlets Power Strip with USB A and USB C Ports for Multiple Devices, 6ft Extension Cord 15A 1875W with 18W PD Fast Charging, 2390 Joules, ETL Listed, Black
  • 【Power Strip with 12 outlets & 2 USB Charging Ports】Features 12 AC outlets(include 5 widely spaced outlets), 1 USB-A port(5V 2.4A) and 1 USB-C(PD18W) to give you everything you need to power up all of your appliances and mobile devices.
  • 【All-Round Protected Surge Protector】 The surge protector power strip is made of Integral Copper Bar and fire-resistance PC shell with flame retardant at 1382℉. This power strip is RoHS, FCC and ETL certified with overload protection, short-circuit protection, over current protection, over-voltage protection and overheating protection.
  • 【2390J Surge Protection & Overload Switch】The extension cord with multiple outlets with surge protection Indicator light and grounded Indicator light & overload protection switch, protects your electrical appliances from voltage fluctuations, surges or spikes. The minimum energy-absorbing capacity of 2390 Joules. Lighted on/off switch with integrated circuit breaker for overload protection of all outlets.
  • 【Upgraded 6 Feet Extension Cord】Adopting with 3C and UL certified 3 core 14AGW pure copper wires which is very thick and has better current carrying capacity(1875W/15A) for stronger & higher conductivity, more efficient power output, lower heat and safer. The outer insulation layer is made of high-quality elastic plastic material, which has good strength, bending resistance and wear resistance.
  • 【Wall mountable &Suitable for Any Occasions】2 keyhole mounting slots on the back of this outlet extender allow it to be secure installed to the wall or desktop, makes it suitable for anywhere you need. The power strip is suitable for home, office, and college dorm room. Our friendly and reliable customer service will respond to you within 24 hours, please purchase with confidence.

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

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: Tidy up your hard floors and rugs with powerful straight suction, or tackle tight, hard to reach places with the hand vac on-board crevice tool combo
  • EASY TO USE: Take the chore out of cleaning with this lightweight and powerful stick vac that easily transforms into what you need, when you need it.
  • ON BOARD CREVICE TOOL: For those harder-to-reach areas that need a quick clean, simply attach the on-board crevice tool to the end of the hand vac for an extended reach
  • HAND VAC MODE: Simply detach the hand vac and quickly clean up the dust, dirt and crumbs on furniture, counters, shelves, upholstery and drapes
  • GREAT FOR SMALL SPACES: The light, compact, and versatile vacuum design great for dorms, apartments, and small spaces to store, use, and clean up easily

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

Urban Habitat Cotton Comforter Set - Jacquard Tufts Pompom Design All Season Bedding, Matching Shams, Decorative Pillows, Twin/Twin XL (68 in x 92 in), Pink 5 Piece
  • The Urban Habitat Brooklyn Comforter Set will create a charming look to your space
  • Featuring small cotton tufts, the comforter and matching shams add texture to this beautiful bedding set
  • Naturally breathable and lightweight cotton fabric paired for a perfect all season bedding
  • Set includes: 1 Comforter: 68"W x 92"L, 1 Standard Sham: 20"W x 26"L, 2 Decorative Pillows: 18"W x 18"L/ 12"W x 18"L, 1 Euro Sham: 26"W x 26"L + 0.5"Flange
  • Care instructions: Machine wash, delicate and separately. Tumble dry low. Spot clean decorative pillows

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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items every college student needs

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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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