Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Simple but essential college necessities

Courtesy of Thomas Huston

Whether you’re coming to the University of Massachusetts for the first time as a freshman or returning for the last time as a senior, there are a few simple essentials that can make a world of difference while at school.

A chair

Having people over to hang out in your room can be a major help in making new friends, and the friend-making process becomes much easier when you have a room that offers hospitality. Owning a comfortable chair will entice people to spend time in your room and encourage them to feel comfortable in your space. The rooms with the fun seating accommodations are always popular, and everything from beanbags to lawn chairs can suit your seating needs.

Duct tape

Duct tape is truly an all-purpose miracle, and is one item you will thank yourself for bringing every time you run into a housing emergency like a ripped window screen or a wobbly fan. For hanging posters and photos on your dorm or apartment wall, it’s much more effective than putty, and if it’s used carefully, won’t damage your decorations. It’s also an excellent fortifier for battered folders and binders that have at least another semester’s use left in them. Duct tape can be the solution to getting out of almost any tight spot in college, from fixing broken book bindings to acting as a last minute lint roller. For more brilliant ideas, visit the Reader’s Digest’s article “Duct Tape to the Rescue” (


We all want the crisp fall weather to kick in on time for the first day of classes, but in the Pioneer Valley that usually isn’t the case. Amherst typically has at least two to three weeks of very hot and humid weather in the beginning of the school year, and the heat can sometimes be unbearable in cramped dorm rooms and small apartments. Buying a box fan to put in the window can increase air circulation in your space and provide relief from the insufferable heat of late summer days and nights.

Personal food supply

College students know that dining halls are a miraculous thing — delicious, healthy food in massive quantities and more choices than we could possibly imagine for every meal. But sometimes the effort to make the hike down to the dining hall just feels too great — after all, we college students can be notoriously lazy. Having some good food supplies in your room such as bread, pasta, cereal, oatmeal, coffee, soup and so on can be a huge relief during a midnight snack attack or when you’re just not feeling motivated enough to walk anywhere for food. Having a set of silverware as well as a couple plates, bowls and glasses or mugs can be extremely useful as well.


A simple bottle of Advil or Ibuprofen can go a long way in college. Students are the frequent recipients of stress headaches and the occasional hangover, which is never a pleasant experience. When your head starts pounding and you still have three more classes before your day is over, having painkillers on hand is a huge relief.

Pens and pencils

We’re in college here, so it’s time that we stopped having to hearing the high school phrase, “Hey dude, do you have a pencil I can borrow?” Having made the choice to continue our education, it’s high time that we all started accepting that writing utensils are essential tools for students and required to be successful. Come to class equipped with several pencils and pens so that you will always be prepared for note taking, pop quizzes, worksheets and exams, as well as for those few individuals who didn’t bring a writing instrument who will surely be asking to borrow yours.

Reading light

The ceiling lights in college dorm rooms can be kind of a drag — they’re stark, too bright and are reminiscent of the lighting in a hospital or office building. Having a lamp or reading light with a softer glow can be much more relaxing, which will allow you to better focus on your homework. Softer lighting can also help make you more comfortable, which might even motivate you to do your homework to completion.

Reusable water bottle

Hydration is extremely important; especially in the dregs of late summer heat. Staying hydrated helps keep you alert, prevents sickness and provides you with more energy. Unfortunately, it’s very cumbersome to have to continue buying big cases of plastic water bottles, lugging them to your room, building up a ton of recycling and then having to repeat the process for the rest of the year. Having a reusable water bottle that you can refill at your leisure is convenient and accessible as well as being environmentally friendly.


Even though every dorm room comes equipped with many spaces for storage, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Bringing clothes for every season, toiletries, our favorite books, kitchenware, office supplies and everything else we need to survive and have fun at school requires a lot more storage space than in a standard dorm. Bringing stackable bins or crates that can be stored under your bed or in the closet can be a huge help in decluttering and organizing your room, and can make the eventual process of moving out much easier as well.


Getting sick or catching allergies at college can be a major pain. Unless we bring a healthy supply of tissues, our only option is the toilet paper in the bathrooms, which is scratchy, insubstantial and just plain icky. You never know when a cold will strike, but when it does, being prepared is a necessary luxury.

Along with your standard living elements, these items will surely prove to be useful in making your transition into college life a bit smoother.

Elise Martorano can be reached at [email protected].


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