Chelle’s Clues for College: Shopping and Moving In

The first post in the Chelle’s Clues for College series is  finally here and it’s all about moving into residence (or dorms)!

This is the very first thing that I had to do when I was going to college because I do, in fact, live on residence. I struggled a lot with this because I’d never lived outside my house before (except for a brief stint at boarding school where they had a very strict list of things that were allowed). Despite what you may think, a lot of thought goes into knowing what to buy and what not to buy, what you need, and what you don’t need, etc.

Some helpful tips to remember when shopping for college are:


If you don’t use it at home, you won’t need it at college.

This sounds extremely obvious and you may be asking yourselves “why would I buy things that I don’t use at home anyways?” But a lot of people fall into that ‘reinvent yourself‘ mindset when going to college and think that they’ll start doing all these things that they never did before just because they’re going to be away from home for the first time. Now I’m not saying that you won’t change some of your habits (because you most likely will), I’m just saying that you won’t change as much as you anticipate and a lot of the new stuff that you buy will end up going to waste. If you do find yourself changing some habits, it is always better to buy what you need when you see that you are actually changing rather than preemptively buying them only to remain set in your ways and wasting money.


Do not take your whole closet to college.

This was probably my biggest mistake my first year of university. I packed literally everything I had in my closet and took it to my dorm room (which was a box with two beds in it in my first year). As you can imagine, I had to live with a ridiculous amount of clutter for the year. People go to college sometimes thinking that they will become the most fashionable person in the world. I thought I would amp up my ‘style’ and wear all my clothes that I had never worn before. I didn’t. In fact, most days I found myself going to class in sweats or a pair of leggings and a hoodie. This is what most people in college do as well. I’m not saying that you should do that, but be conservative when you are packing your clothes. Keep in mind how much space is provided in your room because it’s not nice to have drawers that are so full that they are unable to close. Pants are a good way to cut down. You really only need a few pants and different tops.


Go for minimalist decorations.

A lot of people go crazy with their dorm decorations, buying all sorts of unnecessary and expensive items. While it is really fun to decorate your room, college dorm rooms are often quite small and easily cluttered. Keep this in mind before you buy things for your room. It might be helpful to tour the dorms first so you can get an idea of the size and the layout. When you do go out to buy things for your room however, try to go to cheap places like to Dollar Store or Ikea. You might even find some nice vintage things at a thrift store. Remember, less is more when it comes to decorating your room. At least at first. If you find that you want more things as the year proceeds, you can always add them but holding back at first stops you from buying too much and having a cluttered space that is uncomfortable to live in.


Don’t get caught in the cute stationery craze.

I know that we are all obsessed with cute stationery. I personally love stationery shopping and I would indulge in all that Michael’s, Staples, and Chapters have to offer if not for one glaring problem…$$$ (money)! The aforementioned stores are probably the most expensive places to shop for school supplies. While they have the cutest stationery, I’m not about to dole out my life’s savings on them. They are charging you for something that you could easily do by yourself (DIY). I personally am not the DIY type so I just stick to my boring old stationery from Walmart or Superstore but if you are the DIY type, just personalize your stationery yourself instead of spending tons of money on generic ‘personalized’ stationery. Remember: paper is paper is paper is paper.


DO NOT buy textbooks before your first week!

cannot stress this enough. This was probably my biggest mistake going into university the first year. I spent upwards of $800 on textbooks in my first semester only to realize that I didn’t need more than half of the books that I bought. As you can imagine, that was a huge waste of money. My advice for textbooks is to wait until the professors mention them in your lectures in the first or second week. If they don’t, you should go up and ask them if it is necessary for you to purchase the textbook and if so, if you can purchase an earlier edition. Most of the time, the professor tells you that you either don’t have to buy the textbook, or that you can get any edition. In the case of the latter, there are usually textbook exchanges that happen in the first few weeks of school where you can get second hand textbooks from upper years for cheap(er). There is probably also a used bookstore on or around campus that you could purchase your books from. Anything to avoid paying through the roof for a textbook that you will not be using.


Here is a small shopping list guideline for college to get you started:

  1. Pens
  2. Pencils (#2 HB)
  3. Erasers
  4. Calculator-usually a TI 30X or Cassio Fx991ms or something because some courses don’t allow graphing calculators
  5. Notebooks/notepads/looseleaf paper (depending on how you like to write your notes)
  6. Binders/folders
  7. Whiteout
  8. Stapler
  9. Highlighters
  10. Sticky tabs for marking things in textbooks
  11. Printer
  12. Pencil Case
  13. Some room decor (posters, a rug, a lamp, some knick-knacks)
  14. Clothes (leggings, sweats, hoodies, pants, shirts, skirts, dresses, formal wear, professional wear)
  15. An agenda
  16. A wall calendar (dry erase)
  17. Push pins (you usually have a cork board in your room)
  18. A fan
  19. A shower caddie
  20. Toiletries

If you will have a kitchen and private bathroom:

  1. Bathroom cleaning supplies
  2. Dish soap
  3. Dish rack
  4. Dish towels
  5. Sponge (for dishes)
  6. Mop and broom
  7. Bath mats
  8. Kitchen supplies (pots, pans, cutlery, plates, bowls, cups, mugs)

If I’ve forgotten something important on the list, please let me know!

Happy moving,



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