When you are packing for college, you have your list of essentials and non-essentials. And then you have your hidden third list — your essential non-essentials. These items aren’t necessarily as critical as shirts and body wash, but they sure do make acclimating to college much easier.
At Mercer, there are dorms like Legacy, where you’d have to be an Olympic pole-vaulter to get on the tall bed smoothly. Or, you might live in Plunkett, where every inch of floor space matters, so you put your bed as high as it can go to fit items underneath. Either way, getting to sleep can be more difficult than you anticipated. A storage ottoman is a great investment, as it helps you step into bed while keeping some of your items stored away.
Bedside storage caddy
Along with getting into bed, putting things like your phone or diary beside the bed is a challenge when the dresser is miles below you. Having a bedside storage caddy was an immense benefit to me. Bonus: when I was already oh-so-comfy in bed, I could just drop my book next to me instead of getting up to put it away at night!
It’s a problem as old as modern technology has been at college: one roommate has a subscription to a streaming service, the other brought a television and both want to watch a show while they eat. Neither of them brought an HDMI cord. Save the disappointment later and make the trip to the store now.
With so many students all using the Wi-Fi at once for texting, video games, TV and sometimes homework, the network is bound to slow down. An Ethernet cable ensures that you’re getting the highest-speed connection you can.
Mini garment steamer
I considered my freshman year roommate a genius and a lifesaver when she pulled the garment steamer out of her suitcase. Living in cramped quarters and having to fold most of my clothes into the dressers meant that they were bound to get wrinkled, and I couldn’t run a dryer every time I needed a fresh shirt. It was an easy addition to my morning routine.
Foldable drying rack
Something that has been on my dorm wishlist forever is a drying rack. Many people start washing their own laundry for the first time when they move away to college, and they realize — sometimes too late — that not everything can handle a drying cycle. However, strewing clothes about your dorm to dry can make moving around inconvenient for you and your roommate. A drying rack will keep everything safe, clean and out of the way. Plus, when you are done using it, it collapses for easy storage.
Stain remover stick
Speaking of cleanliness, your clothes probably won’t be spotless after every meal. But sometimes, you’re in a rush to class, or all the washing machines are taken. A stain remover stick is a quick fix in a pinch.
When you’re on a tight college student budget, you can’t always afford to throw out something just because it has a hole or rip or doesn’t fit quite right. A sewing kit is a simple and sustainable solution to small clothing malfunctions.
Shoes can be such a bother to put on and off, especially if you’re just doing a quick task like visiting your hall neighbor or switching your laundry. Slide-on shoes are a simple luxury you’ll thank me for later.
Of course, having a small coffee maker will save the caffeine-addicted college student money they’d be spending in a cafe, but it can also be used to cook small meals like ramen and macaroni and cheese.
In my four years here at Mercer, one thing that has surprised me is the number of people who don’t have plastic food storage containers. Every year, friends ask to borrow my Tupperware sets to put away leftovers for later, and I don’t blame them — they’re definitely one of the handiest items I own, and I recommend you do, too!