Freshman 15: The Essential College Must-Haves

Freshman 15Thousands of students have headed to college for the first time in the past couple weeks, starting on a journey of discovering their new independence, becoming a young adult, and figuring out who they are.

As a freshman in college, you will face many firsts: Maybe you’re the first in your family to attend college, or you’re attending school out of state, or your major is still “undecided” as you hit campus. Those who have attended and/or graduated from college know first-hand what that experience is like, and with any new experience there will be so much to learn!

Freshman students are the newbies and there is lots to adjust to, whether you’re living on or off campus. You are responsible for more. Home-cooked meals? Not until Thanksgiving, unfortunately. Secondly, get your laundry wash in order and don’t bleach the colored clothes! Remember, mom can’t do it for you on campus!

Your experience will be different from your bestie who is attending an HBCU down south, or the guy from your senior class who decided to start in the spring semester and not the fall. Your experience will be your own! The four years at your college or university are an open playing field for you to study abroad, work on campus, make mistakes (minor ones), join/lead student clubs, party (safely), write endless 15-page papers, pledge a sorority or fraternity (if you want), fall in love, fall out of love, be single, take spring break trips, and so much more. The point is, savor the sunrises, the sunsets, the stars, the slumber and solace that college represents.

Below are 15 essential college must-haves for college freshman. Keep in mind these are purely suggestions, but overall smart choices. The more concrete college necessities are things you’ll figure out as you grow and explore!

Professional Clothes

You never know when an event on or off campus may come about and you’ll need to dress the part. Keep your clothes wrinkle free and how do you youngsters say it, “On fleek?”

A Journal

Do what you can to keep a journal or post-it notes of your thoughts, keeping your mind clear and stress free. Maybe your entries or weekly or monthly or serve as a quick note to self for motivation.

Buy in Bulk

Depending on where you go to school, you may not have Walmart or Target nearby so stock up. Keep important items  that you would dread running out of handy.

A Planner

A planner is college essential item because there is so much to keep track of like class schedules, assignments, meetings, and regular daily activities. It’s good practice to keep things organized, especially as a new student.

Family Album

Plaster photos of your family and friends in your area of your dorm to keep whats comforting close by. An album of photos is a good idea as well, to show your room and hall mates who you love.

Board Games

Trust, the boring Friday and Saturday nights will happen. Let’s say your campus is a ghost town during the weekends, a good ole game night will pump up the quiet with your friends and anyone else who is down. Game suggestion: Twister.

Ink Cartridges

The school library is there, but it’s a good idea to also keep your personal printer with ink available when you need it. You never know when the library may have a wait to print, especially during finals.


There’s nothing like having a shelf stocked with snacks. When those late-night study sessions come about or you need something to munch on before class, snack on.


Dorms can be noisy if someone’s partying or a roommate is snoring, and you can’t sleep! Keeping a pair of earphones in your dorm room is definitely essential. You’ll see.


If you’re able to stash away some bills in your savings account or keep cash handy, that will help. Keeping cash in your possession is like a stone age mindset to some. However, you never know when you may need some loose bills at school.

Flip Flops

Common sense, right? It doesn’t hurt to remind how essential flip flops are in the dorm shower and anywhere else. If you don’t favor flip flops and you’re strolling down the hall to watch reality shows with your hall mate, wear slippers.

Hair Products

You will learn that it’s good to have your own items even if you and your roommate or friends use the same products. Just because you all are Shea Moisture kindred spirits doesn’t mean each of you shouldn’t have your own Curl Enhancing Smoothie.

Hand Sanitizer

Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize! College costs, but germs are a free zone. Running low on sanitizer? A nice hand washing will do the trick as well.

Power Strip

Face it, you’re in a small living space with your roommate and there just aren’t enough electrical outlets to go around. Between a television, laptop, alarm clock, lamp, microwave, etc., you’re going to need a power strip and maybe a spare one.

New Friends

College is a hub of new things and that includes making new friends. It may be awkward or challenging to make and sustain friendships at first, but it’s all part of the journey. Who knows, you may even meet a few awesome friends who will be apart of your life beyond college.

—Elishia Peterson

Elishia Peterson is a blossoming freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. Her work has been featured on publications including Looklab, Crème Magazine, Cred, and Examiner covering budget fashion stories. In May 2013 she earned her Masters degree in Writing Studies which has pushed her to strive to be creative in her craft. She recently published a chapbook titled, “Black Roses: Five Women and Their Mental Breakthrough,” a collection of poetry. Follow her latest blog “Labels, Love, and Living” here.

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