A (fairly) Recent Grad's Guide for Back to School Shopping

Posted by Ryan Thomas on

The Summer is drawing to a close which for many of you means you, or someone you know, will be heading back to school. This can be an exciting time, a sad time or even a little bit of a scary time; often a little of each. Many of us have made the mistakes of grabbing a campus checklist and feeling the need to get every. single. item. on the list, only to move in and realize you brought WAY too much stuff. Even worse, you find out you don't have something you actually need.

There are plenty of lists out there that have all of the obvious items needed (like right here), but there are some understated, yet vitally important, items you might want to check out. Here's my guide of items you definitely want to consider when going back to school. 


Surge Protector & Extension Cords

Trust me, there will never be enough outlets for all your products that need electricity, and lets be honest no one wants to crawl under their bed to the outlet to switch plugs. Therefor a surge protector, or two (maybe even a third) are absolute must haves. I recommend at least two because when you think about it you'll need outlets for your phone charger, laptop charger, alarm clock, TV, and mini-fridge, maybe a video game consol, hair dryer and who knows what else. Plus you've got to factor in that you probably have roommates who will have a lot of the same things.

While the old standard surge protectors typically have 6 outlet slots you'll find they fill up fast plus certain plugs are inconveniently designed and block multiple outlet from being used; I'm talking about you Mac Book charger!

Surge protectors have come a long way in recent years and can be found with a variety of new features. Below is a durable option which even has USB ports and won't break the bank!

HOLSEM Outlets Surge Protector Power Strip($19)



Backpacks & Bags

Now this should seem like a no brainer; everyone has gotten a backpack for school since you started 1st grade. Except for your parents or grandparents who, as I'm sure you've heard, walked 4 miles to and from school, up hill both ways, in the snow, carrying their books by hand. ;) They didn't have backpacks of course.

Us youngins, have been using backpacks since we could tie our shoes and I'm telling you one backpack may not be enough, or you may not have the right type of bag for your needs. Of course backpacks are typically used for carrying your school supplies to and from class or the library but you'll find bags are extremely useful for other things as well. While in school I had my school bag for carrying my laptop and books, then I had my sports bag which was used for all my track gear or I use it for going to the gym or intramural sports. It also came in handy when heading home for the weekend or going on a weekend adventure as its large carrying capacity could fit all the clothes I needed. Last but certainly not least were all my drawstring bags which proved valuable on Friday and Saturday nights. Best part about drawstring bags is that they are rather inexpensive so if you lose one at a house party you'll probably be more upset about what was in the bag than the bag itself. 

Point is, a versatile main backpack may be the best option; one that can adequately carry you school stuff with out damaging anything but also has a big enough capacity for clothes and athletic gear. On top of that I highly recommend a few drawstring bags as well!

 We've got a few recommendations for some great options below!

KAUKKO Travel Backpack Laptop Schoolbag for Men and Women ($47)

Drawstring Bags ($6)


Air Freshener

 Let's be honest, sometimes you smell; your room will definitely smell too. You may not think it does and maybe you can't tell but I promise you everyone else can. With multiple people spending the majority of their time in a small confined box; your collective smelliness will accumulate, and no amount of "leaving the window open" will air out your room enough. Also I'm sure you don't want a girl or guy you are interested in to come by and be able to smell all the dirty cloths you threw in your closet, 5 seconds before they came. Do everyone a favor and pick up some of these. Small, easy to use, and they will make your room smell pretty good without being overpowering. 

Glade Solid Air Freshener, Clean Linen, 6-Ounce (Pack of 6) ($14)


Slippers or easy Slip-on Shoes

Slippers or slip on shoes are perfect footwear for quick activities or early morning meals. Need to hit the bathroom or visiting a friend on a different floor, slippers are an easier and more comfortable option. I even used mine to drag my aching body to the dining hall for brunch on those dreary Sundays before making my way to a study room to try and catch up on work.

I know some of you will try to brave it by walking barefoot to the bathroom or even to walk around the dorm hall. I'm telling you, unless your halls are carpeted, don't do it! Floors are gross and dirt sticks to feet and those feet go all over your bed. Don't drag bathroom grossness into your bed, just don't.

Check out these options: they look enough like shoes to prevent you from looking weird when you inevitably wear them to the dining hall.

Men's Suede Moccasin Slippers ($30)

Women's Molly Slipper ($22-50)


Clean Bottle Square

Reusable water bottles: cheaper than buying bottled water and remarkably convenient. It's no secret college kids aren't the best at cleaning bottles until things get dire. One bottle for the gym and your powder mixes, another for class, and probably a few for weekend nighttime activities, if you're into those sort of things. Let's be honest, not all of us are on top of cleaning out our bottles and after a while strange smells and mold start to form. You don't want to be staring down a moldy bottle, on a Friday night having to make the difficult decision of sucking it up and using it anyway, or running out to buy a different one.

The square bottle however makes cleaning easier so on the rare occasion you do clean it, you can reach the bottom and get in there good so there won't be any lingering smells or odd tastes. Also the fruit infuser module makes a phenomenal shaker for protein powders. Seriously, try it!

Additionally, the square shape will prevent you from chasing your bottle when you drop it as you sprint to the exam you almost slept through, nor will it send you on a scavenger hunt, if tipped over while under your desk in class. 

Lastly, it just looks cool and you'll find it makes for a great conversation starter, so making new friends will become much easier for you

Clean Bottle Tritan Square ($15)


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