Freshmen Essentials

In the old days, a roll of quarters for the washer and dryer was considered essential. Today,  with enhanced technology, most laundry rooms take credit or debit cards and many even texts students when it’s time to transfer the wash to the dryer. So, while some packing details are different, much remains the same, just with updates.

Beyond the obvious bed and bath basics what are the real necessities that 2020 freshmen can’t live without?

Electronics – Bring power strips, surge protectors, extension cords, headphones, flash drives, laptop sleeves, and docking stations. Portable Bluetooth speakers and cooling pads for Mac and PC Notebooks are a necessity.  Most students either share a printer with their roommate or have a printing account that provides them with more than enough copies for the year.

Organizers – Now you can buy bed lifts that attach to the legs of the bed raising it just 5”, enough for the under-bed storage boxes. There are a variety of new storage carts on wheels that makes it easier to move them into the dorm and then offers flexibility to redecorate the room as needed. Hanging shelf organizers in the closet for shoes and sweaters minimizes clutter. Over-the-door hooks and decorative wall hooks are a great way to clean up a room really fast. Other fun items include: a bedside caddy where students can keep their phone, headphones, clickers, a drink and tissues, and desk organizers for all their school supplies.

Security – There are now mini safes designed for dormitory use. Since so many students wander around their floors and frequently don’t lock or close their doors, having a safe to store valuables such as a passport, extra spending money, etc., is a smart idea. A night-light will come in handy too.

Health & Cleanliness –  Don’t forget medications and make arrangements to transfer prescriptions to a pharmacy near the dorm. Keeping the room intact and smelling nice can be a challenge. Having a hand-vac, air fresheners, hand-wipes, hand sanitizer, first aid supplies, etc., makes sense.

Move-in tips

Bring a dolly – Buy or borrow a semi-professional moving dolly and you will sweat less, earn kudos from strangers and quickly become the dorm hero when you loan it out.

Don’t forget the tools – A screwdriver kit, duct tape and sticky tape that won’t ruin the walls for posters, etc. are essentials.

What’s really important is for freshmen to bring an open mind, an adventuresome spirit and a willingness to put aside old stereotypes and take on new experiences both inside and outside the classroom.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;