Back in the day, college newbies relied on good old word of mouth (or guessing) when figuring out what the hell to bring with them for their very first year. And now, even with the power of Google to solve just about any packing dilemma, vetted advice from veteran students is still tough to top. Our shopping solution? Combine the two.
We polled real college students to create a virtual shopping list filled with the first-hand products they found worthy of splurging or saving on. Some are still enrolled, some are recent grads, and all are experienced packers when it comes to campus lifestyle essentials. Ahead, find this good old word-of-mouth guide filled with the dorm goods, tech gadgets, and fashion accessories worth investing in (or not) for during your next four years and counting.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Commercial Cool Mini Fridge (Splurge)
Unless your college living situation comes with a shared kitchen, investing in a compact fridge for your room is key — and as far as mini fridges go, this dual freezer model from Commercial Cool is about as roomy as they come.
Commercial Cool Compact Single-Door Mini Refrigerator & Freezer, $169.44, available at Amazon
Alo High-Waist Legging (Splurge)
For some, college years are the, “I lived in leggings,” years — so invest in a quality pair that won’t pill, rip, or slip. This high-waisted pair from Alo is engineered to contour to your shape with its four-way stretch and moisture-wicking fabric that can take you from yoga classes to library study sessions and beyond.
Alo Yoga High-Waist Moto Legging, $114, available at Alo Yoga
Room Essentials Pillow Set (Save)
It’s recommended to recycle pillows every one to two years, so buying a pair that doesn’t tote a steep price tag for college may be your best budget bet — and with this bundled under-$10 set from Target, you won’t need to sacrifice quality for affordability.
Room Essentials Standard/Queen 2pk Bed Pillow Set, $8, available at Target
Toshiba Smart TV (Splurge)
Can you put a price on premium entertainment? Maybe you can — but for a 43-inch Toshiba model complete with built-in Fire TV capabilities that will last you through college and beyond, the investment price is right.
Toshiba Ultra HD Smart LED TV – Fire TV Edition, $249.99, available at Amazon
Everlane Rain Jacket (Splurge)
Invest in a durable jacket that you can transition from rainy gloom to windy sunshine with stylish ease.
Everlane The City Anorak – Black, $88, available at Everlane
The White Company Featherbed (Splurge)
If you’re going to be stuck sleeping on top of a twin-sized, plastic mattress situation, you may as well invest to make …read more