Heading off to college is an exciting and liberating time when you get to spread your wings without the watchful eyes of mom or dad following your every move. But before you fly off on your own, you need to make sure your college adventure is set up for success.

There’s more to college life than a mini fridge and under-the-bed storage. Here are five things you may not know you need when heading off into the great wide world of academia and independence.

1.  A Really Obnoxious Alarm Clock

When you signed up for that early morning yoga class you had visions of greeting the dawn with your own sun salutation and facing the remainder of your day with a clear mind and focused energy. What you forgot to consider was late night cram sessions, parties and inconsiderate roommates. Even if you never slept through an alarm before in your life, Mom isn’t going to be knocking on your door with a plate of pancakes to make sure you don’t miss that mid-term. You need to find an alarm clock with the most horrible alarm you’ve ever heard – one that can’t possibly be ignored. This, my friend, is a crucial key to college success.
college essentials

2.  A Security Plan

We’re not talking about an entourage of muscled security guards escorting you from class to the dining hall, but security is something you need to plan for whether you’re living on campus or off. It’s smart to carry something like pepper spray when walking across campus, but what about keeping your dorm room or apartment safe from theft, intruders and other security breaches? Gone are the days when security systems were only for the rich old lady up the lane.  There are several security options available to meet the needs and budgets of a college student.

SimpliSafe offers simple, DIY monitoring plans to let you know if someone’s encroaching on your territory while you’re out for as little as $14.99 per month with no contract. And if you’re living off campus, you may want to consider a more advanced DIY system like these from FrontPoint that will not only help you keep an eye on things, but allow for remote light control and geo-locating services starting at $42.99 per month. Research the crime statistics in the area where you’ll be living, and then hit up your parents for some extra protection – this is one college expense your folks will be more than happy to help with.

3.  A First Aid Kit

This may come as a surprise but Band-Aids and Neosporin do not just magically appear in cupboards whenever you need them. You have been relying on someone else for these basic items up to this point and now that you’re moving out on your own – and are likely to be engaging in dangerous acts like cutting vegetables or falling off the top bunk – you need to make sure you take first aid supplies with you. You can pick up a ready-made kit at most drugstores for under $15.00, or put your own together so it can include cool things like Batman Band-Aids.
first-aid-kit

4. Tools

Much like the ever-present Band-Aids of your pre-college life, things like hammers and screwdrivers don’t come with every dorm room or apartment. If you want to put your cool IKEA furniture together, hang something on the wall (after checking first that you’re allowed to do so) or save the day for a roomie who isn’t as prepared as you, you need to pick up a mini tool kit. You can always see if Dad will let you pilfer his tool stash, but if that doesn’t seem likely, it’s easy to find a kit with the bare essentials that will meet your early college needs for right around $20.00.

5.  Insurance

You’re really in the big leagues now. Not only do you need to consider your health plan options, but you should look into renters insurance to protect your personal belongings from damage or theft. If you are still on your parent’s health insurance make sure you get a copy of the insurance card and learn how to use it. There’s more to going to the doctor than just showing up. Find out what the co-pays and deductibles are as well as how to locate an approved provider in your area. Most insurance companies have websites that will answer common questions, so find it and bookmark it before you head to campus.

Renters insurance is another smart consideration that can protect you from theft, vandalism and other damage as well as from personal liability if someone is hurt in your apartment. A basic renters policy is similar to homeowners insurance and usually comes with minimal cost. Find out if your parents can help you get a policy through their homeowners insurance and make sure your new laptop is protected from sticky fingers or clumsy friends who accidentally dump a soda all over it.

What other surprise items should be on your college supply list?
items you need for college

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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