The Ultimate Guide to Freshman Year is a series for upcoming and current college freshman. "What to Pack & How to Shop" is only Part 1! At the end of this post, you can read more about the other posts and what they have to offer!
This particular post is going to include an extensive packing list and a five-step guide on how (and where) to shop. I'll be talking all about what's worth bringing and how to get those items on any budget!
Before I left for college, I probably read 25+ packing lists online. I am not exaggerating. I compiled every single thing I read into one giant packing list before I started shopping. Now that I'm almost done with my freshman year, I've been able to tweak this list according to my experiences. Still, this list is very personalized, so feel free to take it and make it your own. :)
What to Pack:
How to Shop:
1. If you want to save as much money as possible, make use of what you already have. Team up with your parents/guardians, go through your house, and gather the things on your list that you already own. In regards to school supplies, I already had pens, pencils, loose leaf paper, dividers, a stapler and staples, a hole puncher, binders, and sticky notes. Don't be ashamed of bringing half-used pencils to school. It's college: no one pays attention to what your school supplies look like. Trust me. Bring whatever old stuff you have!
2. When it comes to dorm shopping, don’t get sucked into the advertisements. Stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and Target host enormous back-to-school campaigns for college students. They have entire sections dedicated to college, checklists you can pick up at the door, and special services to make your life easier. I’m not advising you to avoid stores like that all together – they will have some great deals and college-specific items worth buying. However, it’s best not to go into one of those stores with your whole list and buy everything at once.
3. Don't buy things you don't need! If you have never used a humidifier, you probably won't use one if your dorm either. You don't need one million storage containers. You don't need ten pillows. You don't need pots and pans if you don't have a kitchen. Shop smart, and really think about what you will actually use.
3. Make use of stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack, Ross and Home Goods. Discounts stores offer good quality and good prices. Places like these are great for buying furniture, bedding, office supplies, kitchenware and decor. Save Target and Walmart for things like cleaning supplies, beauty products and shower necessities (all the basics). Of course there are plenty of less important things you can simply pick up at the dollar store, too. You just have to plan out where is best to buy what.
4. Don't forget about IKEA! It has more to offer than almost any other store, and the prices are amazing. I bought my desk lamp, makeup mirror, drawer organizers, magazine holders, trash can, and more all at IKEA. It's a great place if you're going for a certain look, too (simple chic, modern eclectic).
5. Don't be afraid to ask family for help. My grandmother had tons of extra things she wasn't using, and it really helped me out. Keep your eyes peeled for family members with extras. It never hurts to ask!
Thanks for reading, everyone! Stay tuned for more of this series!