Freshmen: So what do you really need to start college?

Choose used books instead of buying new ones for your freshman year of college.
Choose used books instead of buying new ones for your freshman year of college.

Credit: Meghan Faiella/The Palm Beach Post

Credit: Meghan Faiella/The Palm Beach Post

So you got into college! Congrats! Now the real work begins. There are classes, parties and dorms, oh my. It’s a regular jungle out there. So how do you survive your first year of college? Especially when you’re so young, bright-eyed and eager?

You prepare. You talk (and listen!) to those older than you, those who have been there before. They can teach you a thing or two about things you think you already know.

>> Read more trending stories  

First, supplies. Whether or not you actually ever liked school, you probably enjoyed shopping for supplies. Notebooks, sharpies, folders with puppies on them and neon-colored locker shelves, you name it, you bought it. For college, the list only grows longer (and more expensive). And the space to put everything? Well, bigger than your locker but smaller (much smaller) than your parents’ house — one dorm room that you are likely sharing.

Here are some items that should definitely be on your packing list:

Shopping for dorm life:

Shower shoes and shower caddy: Do you know how many other people are using or have been using that shower of yours? Are you the one cleaning it? No, no and no. So stay germ-free : Buy a cheap pair of flip-flops. As for keeping your products from getting used up, don't leave them in the shower; instead use a caddy.

Earplugs and a sleeping mask: It is very likely that you and your roommate will not have the same schedule. You may have a class that starts at 8 and hers doesn't start till 2. Whatever the case, an earplugs/sleeping mask combo will make sure you get enough sleep.

Sleeping bag and/or air mattress: You will need something for your friends to crash on when they crash or when your roommate needs private time.

A good backpack: Running back to your dorm after each class can be exhausting, leading to taking naps which lead to missing class. Skip the whole ordeal and just have a really good, comfortable backpack.

Desk Lamp: You can't always spend your time at the library, so when it comes to dorm studying, be sure to have a desk lamp.

Extra Sheets: Simple hygiene. You want clean sheets, but don't want to do large loads of laundry all the time.

Good shoes: Yes, those sandals are cute, but will they be as cute trekking across campus in the rain? And those heels? They won't feel great after walking a mile. Stick to sensible (yet stylish) kicks or flats or sandals for your long days on the yard.

Your own printer: Yes, you can print at the library or the student government office (when they're not jammed) for free or for a few cents. But having your own printer can save you a lot of time and aggravation.

Netflix account: Well, this isn't a must, but you do need a break eventually and what better way than to make friends in the common room watching a binge marathon.

Not living in a dorm, here’s your shopping list:

Now for you commuters out there. Just because you don’t have to wear shoes in the shower doesn’t mean there aren’t things you should have at your disposal.

Coffee/tea thermos: Key to survival in college — even in the workplace — is energy, and energy means caffeine. While driving to class especially, have a hot thermos with you. You'll be good to go all day.

Pillow/Blanket: It may sound crazy, but having a blanket and pillow in your car is handy for a quick nap (whether in the car or library!) or to relax on the grass.

Cordless charger: People will fight you for the wall outlets. Getting a cordless charger for your phone will not only help you out, but will also make you look less greedy for taking the outlet from someone who is actually using it for work.

Umbrella: There is always a chance for rain, and living in Florida, it is almost guaranteed. The umbrella should be small enough to fit in your backpack.

Spare of everything: Shoes, a bag, pens, paper, everything. Your car will become your room, and everything you could possibly need should be there. It's pointless to drive back home during breaks between classes. It's best to stay on campus and enjoy your college days . You'll be forced to study, meet people and even hit the gym.

What freshmen need to know in general

Freshmen year can be scary. Any year can be scary. But there are things you can do, things that generations before you did and things you will tell future generations to do, to make your college years everything they should be.

Know thy route: The weekend before school starts and you have your schedule, go around the campus and find out exactly where all your classes are and how fast it takes to get to them.

Rent your books: Seriously, do not buy new books. They are the price of a down payment on a car, and as much as you think you are going to use them, you probably won't.

Sites such as and allow you to choose your book condition and length of borrowing time and then delivers them to your door with free shipping back at the end of the semester. If you still feel like you need to keep your book forever, then buy it used. These are normally in really good condition and sometimes with helpful notes in the margins.

Join clubs:  While you're in college, join all the clubs you can! You will meet people with similar interests and maybe even learn something new. Always wanted to learn Italian? Join the Italian club. Think comics are cool? There's a club for that. There is a club for any and everything.

Free gym classes: The last thing you want to do after going to class, studying and partying is go to the gym, but this is the perfect time to take advantage of free gym classes. Not only will you get in shape (hey, the freshmen 15 is real!), but you will also meet lots of cool people who are interested in being active as well. Besides, technically you're paying for use of the gym in your tuition, so you might as get something out of it.

Take classes that interest you: Yes, you have to take classes that relate to your major, but not all students know what their major will be their freshmen year. So if you don't know, balance your schedule out with the basic prerequisites and then a class or two on something you're interested in. Know your major? That's great, and you can still take a fun elective here and there.

Go to class: Go. Just go. It's really easy to forget about class, especially without teachers or parents (or the law) forcing you to go. It doesn't make things any easier, when professors say, they don't take attendance or that you can turn your work in electronically. In class, you will learn so much more than you could ever read from just a textbook. You will gain friendships and even get some one-on-one time with your professor.

The best advice: Listen to the people who have been there before. Listen to your parents, your older siblings, your aunts and uncles, whoever. They know what they enjoyed in college and what they regretted doing or not doing. They only want the best for you, so take their advice.

About the Author