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What I Bought Freshman Year that I Still Use Today

Ianni Le

I tried hard to be over-prepared for my college dorm and as a result, come move-out day, I was cursing myself for having bought so many things I barely used. I wished that at the time, I'd thought beyond freshman year and invested in things that I could use throughout my time in college.

Here are some things I bought freshman year that I still use frequently to this day.


Having grown up in a super humid environment, I was ill prepared for the implications of dry Colorado weather  even constantly drinking water didn’t seem to help my skin from cracking and bleeding come winter. A humidifier did wonders to keep me hydrated and give me more control over my space. This appliance is beneficial in any climate. You can even find ones that diffuse essential oils if that's your preference.

Extension Cord with Surge Protection

I didn’t think of packing an extension cord myself, but thankfully my mother did. She found one with a cord with surge protectors to make sure I wouldn’t have any problems with my dorm’s power outlets. As I had a grand total of two power outlets for my own use — the others being communal or delegated to roommates — I was extremely grateful to have had my extension cord ready to go. I still use the very same one today, five years later!

Storage Bins

When it comes to moving, there is nothing better than already having storage bins with lids that you can shove all your stuff into and move as is. Although I didn’t actually buy these until I had to move out of my dorm room, I wished I had always had them. You can find something both cute and functional to suit your tastes, but I highly recommend investing in some medium-sized bins with lids. They’re perfect reusable boxes for moving and fantastic ways to store your things day to day. I use mine for winter clothes, extra bedding, and assorted knickknacks.

Thumbtacks/Command Strips

My roommate and I have used a combination of thumbtacks and Command strips to hang everything for years. Thumb tacks are perfect for hanging art, string lights, posters and tapestries and we’ve even used them to help keep our wires in place. We use Command strips for everything else, most especially for those things that would otherwise require a hammer and nails (which we avoid due to rental agreements).

Vacuum Cleaner

Having a vacuum cleaner of my own was truly invaluable. Though many hesitate to buy such a bulky item for a small space, it made cleaning my floors and carpets simply too easy and I brought it with me to every off-campus apartment afterwards. There’s no doubt you’ll continue to use your vacuum cleaner wherever you move and there are some great compact vacuums on the market to consider if your storage space is limited.

Card Holder for Your Phone

You’ll likely stumble across a rubber version of this that has an adhesive to attach to the back of your phone, but there are also some amazing phone cases with built-in card holders that will likely last a lot longer. I’ve remained stubbornly loyal to the same phone case from Amazon for years, finding it to be the most secure option for stashing my cards. It allows me to carry my ID and credit card wherever I go and I never need to worry about something accidentally slipping out.

Closet Organizer

I love hanging closet organizers to help keep my things separated and organized. Because I personally prefer to keep certain types of clothing folded, these closet organizers are perfect for incorporating shelving into my closet and save me the effort of trying to cram more hangers into a limited space.

Over-the-Door Organizers

There are so many over-the-door organizers out there — you’re sure to find one for anything you might need! I knew I just needed something to hold all my shoes so I went for a specific over-the-door shoe rack, but there are so many different options that you can easily find one to hold any specific type of item. I also have over-the-door hooks sprinkled throughout my apartment for everything from towels to reusable grocery bags.

Foam Roller

If you've never used a foam roller before, it may just change your life. They come in a variety of sizes and are used to ease muscle soreness or tension. Many prefer the full-sized ones for full back coverage, but I accidentally bought a smaller size and ended up loving it! It is so easy to stash away and perfect for sore legs and necks as well as back tension. Though I try to roll out my back as often as possible, there is truly nothing better than rolling out all your knots after traveling back from winter break or during finals when you’ve been hunched over your computer for too long.

Amazon Prime Membership

I bought everything on this list from Amazon apart from the vacuum cleaner (though you can definitely find those on Amazon as well). Because I was moving to college from overseas, it wasn’t feasible for me to bring anything besides clothes and toiletries. Everything else I needed, I ordered off of Amazon so it was waiting for me to pick up when I arrived. Amazon also saved me any time my college bookstore ran out of the textbooks I needed, and it was an easy way to buy any other necessities I might have forgotten at any point. The Prime membership guarantees expedited shipping, which is sure to save you some stress especially when you desperately need a specific textbook for class that week.

We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and receive a small fee when purchases are made through links to and affiliated sites at no additional cost to you.

Ianni Le is a freelance writer and content creator. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating with a degree in Media Design and English Literature. Ianni grew up in Shanghai, China and enjoys her dogs, books and food equally.
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