The Must-Have College Survival Kit

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
0 0 694
Beware and be prepared!


Whether you’re just starting college as a freshman, or are a rising senior like me, the summer is when we start thinking about what we will need on a daily basis once we return to campus. It’s like packing for a trip—you’re bound to forget something really important that you never realized you needed until you didn’t have it. Not to mention, forgetting things or bringing the wrong kind of item can lead to a lot of re-purchasing, which is hard on a college student budget. At least, that’s always how I feel. In order to prevent this, I created this survival kit of five things that I truly cannot live without in college.

Gift cards

Whenever I go back to school, I realize how expensive it can be to commute on and off-campus. Plus, not everyone is able to have a car at school, so in my experience, the college student Uber bill can become costly. This is why one thing that I cannot live without is Uber gift cards. You’ll never realize how much they come in handy until it’s 2 a.m. and you’re stuck on campus with your friend offering you a blanket to sleep on because you don’t want to spend the money to get back home. So, if you need any birthday, graduation, and celebration gift ideas, think about asking for Uber gift cards next time. You can use them in desperate moments without having to stress about transportation finances. Pro-tip: Always ride smart and safe with Uber, though!

Starbucks. Gift. Cards. (Or, Dunkin’ Donuts, or really any coffee shop on campus or near your school). Pretty much every college student I know drinks coffee at some point during their college career. And, there isn’t always a cheap option on campus. At Wake Forest, I can visit Starbucks shops on campus and even in the campus library. As a result, a free mid-study pick-me-up is a necessary treat every now and then.

Travel mug

A medium-size travel mug can be your best friend in college. It’s such a simple idea and if you bring it around campus with you every day in a bag or backpack, you can fill it with coffee, water, tea, etc. This way, in a pinch, you can fill up and hydrate or caffeinate. Best of all, this is really great for the environment and your budget. By using, washing, and re-using, you can eliminate a lot of plastic waste and save money purchasing a one-time use cup or water bottle.

The ultimate shoe

Now, this may seem oddly specific, but it is something that every college student needs and rarely ever has. Rain boots and sneakers are great, but in my opinion, the ultimate shoe is a shoe that is:

  • Comfortable: No exceptions! You should have a pair of shoes that look great but can also take you on a 25-mile journey in one day without hurting you. I know it sounds impossible, but you can find one that meets this requirement. It may take some digging in shoe stores, but you will thank yourself later.
  • Fashionable: This same comfortable shoe should also be cute in your opinion, so you’re more likely to wear them for both comfort and style. This pair of shoes should also go with a variety of colors, styles, and outfits. For example, for men’s clothing, they should match with shorts, pants, khakis, jeans, and sport shorts. For women’s clothing, they should work with a dress, pants, shorts, patterns, and plain fabrics. You will thank yourself during those early morning class wake up calls because you’ll have one pair of shoes to slip on without a second thought.
  • Relatively new: This is a really important aspect of shoes that people, especially college students, forget. Shoes are meant to support your feet! If the shoes are too old, they will no longer have the traction and support on the bottom of the shoe that keeps you pain-free. Even if your feet do not hurt, old shoes do not support overall foot health. As a result, you should replace shoes that you wear a lot, especially walk far in, after a couple of hundred miles or so because this will keep you moving strong.
  • Somewhat waterproof: While this “ultimate” pair of shoes doesn’t have to be waterproof, it is helpful to buy a pair that lends itself to bad weather. For example, if you find a cute, comfortable, new walking shoe that is made of suede then you probably can’t rely on them during a day with rainy weather and, therefore, you’ll either ruin them or wear them less frequently.

All of these tips that create the “ultimate shoe” will keep you looking fresh, feeling comfortable, and moving fast on the day-to-day busy college schedule. These ideas will also help you save money because you have tons of variety in one shoe. Therefore, you won’t have to buy as many pairs to create outfits and won’t have to replace them as often. Best of all, though, the ultimate shoe makes you unstoppable and confident.

An outdoor/indoor blanket

I love this idea because it combines two uses into one, saving you space in the car or on the plane or train while en route to school. An outdoor blanket comes in handy if your friends want to hang out in the park, go to a concert, or do homework outside. It can also double as a yoga mat, sleeping bag, and regular blanket. Whether inside, outside, or both, you will always have a place to sit, which isn’t always a given in college.

A top-notch umbrella & raincoat

These two items are a little more practical for college, but they don’t come cheap. It’s worth it, though, seriously. I highly recommend buying a good quality umbrella and raincoat for college because there will always be those moments when you have to walk 10 minutes in the pouring rain to get to your next class on time. When that happens, you’ll realize that the extra expense was worth it because a cheap, “water-resistant” raincoat will not help you—at all. The same idea goes for a nice umbrella because the cheap ones that you can buy off of a street corner will break almost every time. As a result, one expensive umbrella purchase that lasts throughout your college career will actually save you money over the many cheap umbrellas you buy and then have to replace over time.

If you bring these five must-have items to college in addition to your bedspread, books, and clothes, you will be moving quickly and easily while also saving money and keeping your body comfortable. These simple ideas are meant to keep you calm in moments when you could otherwise feel unprepared or exhausted because let’s face it, both are very common in college!

allison-curley-cq-authors-community-headshot.pngWRITTEN BY
Allison Curley
Wake Forest University

Allison is the Summer 2019 Editorial Intern for Worth Publishers (Psychology) at Macmillan Learning and a rising senior at Wake Forest University. When she’s not reading for fun or for her Bachelor’s degree in English, she’s probably spinning to the song “Move Your Feet,” a timeless classic. She also loves writing, especially about food and fitness, which you can find here or on Spoon University and