The Penn State College Freshman Checklist
Computers, once used solely for the purposes of The Oregon Trail and porn have now become the essential item for every college student. Laptops are a good investment for their mobility, but desktops often have more power and are cheaper. Another disadvantage of a laptop is its difficulty to be upgraded. A desktop PC is much more modifiable and can be customized to your needs without a big investment. And for those of you who prefer to stay in more often than not, desktop PCs are great for games that can fill a lot of your time.
It's possible to do without a printer thanks to college print services, computer labs, and generous roommates. However, if you have a paper due, you may not want to be so dependent on the print service being open and roommates being charitable. Instead of spending valuable working time dealing with printing and being a mooch, it might be worthwhile to fork out some cash for a small printer and some ink cartridges.
You will need an Ethernet (RJ-45) cable to connect to the Internet. Be sure to get a long one in case you arrange your room so that your desk is far from the plug. You may also want to make sure you have a wireless card, if not for your University's Wireless Network, for local cafés. You will also want some CD-Rs for saving big projects, making mix CDs, and other projects. USB Flash drives can also be helpful. Get the largest capacity you can afford. And remember headphones.
TV? You are in college now and way too mature for that. Uhhhh right. You'll need this sucker as a primary source of procrastination and entertainment. Check the phone book because there are a variety of different services and packages. The DVD player is nice for watching your favorite movies over and over and annoying your roommate, and if you happen to get a VHS player built-in to your DVD player or TV, it can't hurt. You'll be able to tape "American Idol" when you can't watch (shhh you know you watch it). This is a big ticket item, so make sure you talk with your roommate(s) before packing to see if you can split the total cost or each bring one component (ie. one brings TV, one brings DVD player). We warn against renting a TV – it’s a big waste of time and money.
If you didn’t have one in high school, it’s time to join the ranks. They will become your address book, your connection to home, your party hook up, and your ear’s best friend/cancer source. Plus, you'll want to be able to call all the people you meet in the first few months of school. Pick one with features that suit your needs and have enough distractions to keep you occupied in class.
RAZR - If you don't have a phone or are thinking of swithcing, the
Verizon RAZR is the one to get! Plus Verizon has the best service nationwide.
• eForcity Cell Phone Accessories - Great selection of cell phone accessories.
Bring a camera to Penn State. If for one to make your parents stop bugging you for photos, but also because you should have fun here and once you have Alzheimer’s you’ll need them for documentation. Avoid the very expensive ones because there is a decent chance of you losing it or having it stolen. Digital cameras have come way down in price lately, and a perfectly good 2 megapixel is dirt cheap.
Stereos are not totally necessary because you’ll have a computer, and probably an MP3 player. It’s a good idea to invest in some adequate speakers or good headphones for your computer, not only for music, but also to drown out the terrible sounds of your RA on his acoustic guitar attempting to impress nearby girls with a serenade of the Third Eye Blind song he learned 6 years ago. Stereos just take up space. The same goes for CDs. If you can download music, you don't have to pack or store CDs, or worry about them getting stolen. There is still is that indescribable charm for those with record players.
Store - Plenty of great options to dock your iPod.
• Altec Lansing iPod Docking Station - PA nice, affordable option for docking your iPod.
• Phillips Hi-Fi Thin CD Player - In case you're a CD person, this is a great option.
Early classes are practically mandatory if you are a first year student. You are nothing! So your classes will reflect that. If you don't, consider yourself lucky. You're going to need this sucker to wake your lazy ass up. Sure, you got up at the crack of dawn for four years in high school, but trust us kids, this is not high school. You might even consider a clock that hangs from the ceiling to further increase the difficulty of turning it off. Make sure your clock is LOUD (loud enough that you'll hear it when you place it across the room) and difficult to turn off -- a large, easy to hit SNOOZE button will be your worst enemy. Be wary of clocks that are super bright though, or you (or worse your roommate) will be kept up all night by its eerie LED glow.
• Timex Nature Sounds Auto Set CD Clock - Wake up to the radio or your favorite CD!
The overhead light of your dorm room will not just produce bland, ugly light, but also migraines and depression. Invest in a cheap $15 standing lamp from Target to help counter the fluorescent and attract bugs. If you're really feeling crazy, spend a couple dollars on some colored light bulbs. A desk lamp is also a good idea for the times when you're pulling an all-nighter and your roommate wants to go to bed. Clamp lights are also nice to provide personal light anywhere you want it. Halogen lights are not recommended and have a rumor of being dangerous.
Some say these lights are an absolute necessity to dorm and that is up to you. If you string them underneath a loft or bunk, watch your head! Also make sure you have plenty of paper clips or staples for hanging them from the ceiling. A couple packages will do the trick -- unless you and your roommate go completely overboard and want to cover your entire ceiling in lights...in which case seek professional help.
Sometimes the genius room layouts will leave your appliances far from the electrical outlets, so get at least two nice long extension cords. The surge protector adds a little security for that fool who decides to cook popcorn at 2AM. If you have a lot of things to plug in, bring two.
The odd timing and extremes of AC and heat in the dorms can only be explained by how they prepare you for a life in your crappy cubicle offices with similar issues. A fan is your best friend for controlling your own cooling.
Now that you’ll be doing your own laundry, you’ll be surprised to find out how much your clothes wrinkle. Sorry, it’s true. If you have the patience, an iron and small ironing board will make you more impressive to your peers (Oh such a sad, sad joke).
• Black & Decker AS150 Steam Advantage Iron - For the occasional wrinkle in your life.
• Black & Decker Brew 'n Go with Travel Mug - Wake up for early classes with a hot cup of joe.
Beds in the dorms are all twins and you might want to buy extra-long sheets to ensure they fit. Make sure to bring a few sets, because if you’re like most students you'll err on the side of laziness/business when it comes to laundry.
• Collegiate Towels - Truthfully that's the name - need we say more?
Bringing your childhood “Binky” is your call, but a warm blanket for sleep is essential. You'll want a comforter for cold winter nights, but it's also a good idea to bring a fleece blanket or throw for warmer evenings or to use while sitting out on the quad.
• Twin Microfiber Blanket - Microfiber is the new suede - and it resists spills.
Bring your regular pillows and a couple extra to prop yourself up on while watching TV or movies, because it’s unlikely you’ll have a couch in your room. One of those "husband/wife" pillows might not be a bad idea, but they take up space and it's annoying to continually move them on and off your bed every night.
• Wamsutta Magic Gel Pillow - Here's wishing you some magic.
• Sleep Innovations Eggcrate Foam Topper - For $10, get a good nights sleep!
• Bubble Crates - For $5, you can't go wrong.
Even if you aren't planning to bring a lot of clothes that require hanging, hangers come in handy and have a way of disappearing. Take it from Joan Crawford: no wire hangers! Bring plastic. You can hang drying items on them, heavier items on them, and they cause less wrinkles.
• Pack of 72 Tube Hangers - A basic neccessity.
A very tiny bit of the world will be "yours" while at school. Consider what you want to look at while there: old movie posters, band fliers, pictures of your friends ... or the stark, cell-like cinder blocks of your wall. Be wary of following the cliché college poster route with such gems like John Belushi in Animal House, Bob Marley smoking weed, and girls in thong bikinis drinking beer (word to the wise, this will not get you more girls).
• AllPosters.com - Widest selection of posters we found on the web.
Go with a short long one (to go under your bed) or a thin medium height one (to go in your closet). Expandable hampers are ideal for dorm rooms because they can hold a lot of clothes and fold neatly to fit anywhere. Some have removable bags. A standard laundry or long duffle bag will do too, but remember that the larger it is the less often you will feel compelled to do laundry, which depending on your disposition can be a curse, a blessing, or both.
• Mesh Laundry Hamper - On the off chance that your clothes actually make it into the hamper, this is the one to use!
It's better to get a cheap garbage can that you can replace after one year of filling it with gross leftovers, questionable liquids and the off-chance bodily fluids. Don’t get some perforated one, because it will leak stuff. And save up plastic bags from the store – it makes disposal a much neater activity. The flip tops are nice for hiding overflowing garbage can situations.
• Simple Human Garbage Can - Simple, stylish but still affordable.
There’s some kitchen supplies you never knew you needed until they’re gone. The time will come when your food collection resembles that of a depleted bomb shelter; comprising only of second rate canned goods. A can opener may just be your best friend until you can work up the nerve to go grocery shopping by yourself. Some other items to go in the miscellaneous drawer: bottle opener, corkscrew, measuring spoons, and Tupperware for leftovers.
Tools - Great assortment of choices here - who knows, you may even
end up keeping some of these for a while.
• Bar & Wine Tools - For the occasional dorm room party - hey, we're realistic. We've been there!
• Tupperware - In case you have a cooking area in your dorm, these are essential.
A water filtering pitcher may be a helpful way to enhance the taste, if not health, of your tap water. Be sure to change the filters as often as required. If your family has a bulk buying superstore membership, pick some filters up to take with you; they tend to be expensive.
• Brita Slim Pitcher with Filter - A nice space saving option for your dorm room fridge.
• Replacement Filter 3-Pack - Great to stock up on. Filters should really be changed every 2-3 months.
Bring some double-stick product to put up your posters, message board, band fliers, etc. Walls are usually concrete, so nails and tacks are out of the question. Just make sure you get a product that has removal instructions, or you could wind up paying a fee when you move out.
• Grizzly Double Sided Tape - Powerful stuff. Recommended more for concrete walls.
• Poster Putty - Another alternative for mounting posters - comes right off those lovely cinder block walls.
If you haven't touched it in over a year, don't bring it. Bring the clothes you like and will wear regularly. Err on the side of being minimal. You'll likely find out what you want to be wearing better after you're there no matter what.
You want enough so that you don't have to do laundry very often. So it is suggested you bring about 21 pairs of underwear and socks… unless you don’t mind wearing them more than one day each. Ewwwwwwwww.
Don’t underestimate Pennsylvania’s winter. Patience and tolerance are the two main winter items you’ll need, but don’t forget the hats and mittens. If airplanes are your mode of transportation to and from school, and you are planning on going home for Winter Break/Spring Break, just rotate your summer stuff when you go home for winter break (And a word of advice...bring a lot home at Spring Break and leave it there, it will make packing at the end of school much, much easier.) Don't forget a solid winter jacket too (and a scarf – did we mention it’s gets cold?). The Daily Jolt provides weather updates that will help you in deciding if the Donner Party-esque trek to class is worth your while.
Make sure they're not only comfortable to sleep in, but also in decent shape (no major holes) and not too embarrassing, because chances are that you will wear them to classes more than once or twice.
You never know when you’re going to need one. While we do admire your confidence, for most people, it should be forbidden to wear a speedo in public. Check out the open times here.
• Swimsuits for All - Everyone can find something here.
It's good to have some nice formal outfits (suit, ties, dress, whatever floats your boat) in case you get invited to some cool event, lecture, dance or party that requires formal wear. A tuxedo t-shirt will do just fine for most things, but you might want to look more spiff to land that sweet internship.
• Jos A Bank - Classy, but it won't break your bank.
Because of the dire effects of global warming and constant temperature changes, you never what kind of weather to expect! So when packing, remember that there is rain in Pennsylvania. So pack an umbrella that will not fold inside out and fly into nearby students.
You should always bring a variety of common medicines (head, stomach, sinuses, throat, etc.). You'll need them at some point and you'll be able to come to the rescue of your hot neighbor. Also be prepared for cuts and bruises.
• First Aid - A nice compact package with all the basic necessities.
Shampoo, conditioner, soap/body wash, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, tissues, toothpaste and toothbrushes, a comb/brush, Q-tips, dental floss, nail clippers, spare contacts, glasses and contact solution if you need them, and a hair dryer if you use one. Also, whatever "product" (read: gunk) you use to make your hair purdy.
If you have a shared bathroom, you'll need to contain your toiletries in manageable and portable containers. Shower caddies have holes in the bottom to let the water drain out. They just need to be big enough to carry your shower and bathroom essentials. Keep it small. And do not forget the flip flops. The shower might be clean, but your hall mate might have some gross fungus.
• Bathroom Caddy - An easy way to take all your goodies to and from the shower.
• Flip Flops - These will keep that nasty fungus off your feet.
• Pain Killers - Chances are you'll have a few migranes before Freshman year is through.
You’ll need more than your first aid supplies to play doctor. If you want to have sex, you want to have some protection. Go to the Health Center on campus to buy condoms and other safe-sex materials as well as information on the subject.
• Trojan Condom - Variety 36 Pack - Variety is a good thing.
So they've become a college cliché, but they're still super useful for sports, outdoors activity, class, and studying. You can also express your PSU pride and get one at the bookstore with the logo on it. The Nalgene type are nearly indestructible and won't give you that cheap plastic taste that regular water bottles will. Just don't put milk in them. Trust us.
• CamelBak .75 Liter Water Bottle - Pretty sleek design.
Pledge or Clorox are an absolute Godsend, and the benefit will be two-fold: disguising the nasty dorm-room smell (either the one that was there when you arrived or the one you made in the process of living there) and combating the inevitable dust build-up. Get the lemon-scented kind.
• Clorox Cleaning Wipes - Who knows - maybe you can avoid a few colds by using these in common areas you share with your roommate.
Whether it’s a PDA, personal secretary, or desk calendar, you will want something to keep track of due dates, upcoming days off of school and important B-days. The Daily Jolt also offers an easy to use online scheduler.
• Palm Z22 Handheld PDA - At about $90, this is the one to get if you're on a budget.
• Dell Axim X51v PDA - If you need all the bells and whistles, this is your best bet.
Stinky roommate? Too much old laundry? Dried, moldy milk in your cereal bowl? Febreeze it away! Some also go for plug-in air fresheners, but those take up valuable socket space. Aerosol can fresheners only help with the smell for a few seconds. The spritzy oil kind really stink up the room, and that can be nauseating (especially if they leak). Double check if you've got an asthmatic roommate.
• 27.4 oz Febreeze Spray - You never know when you'll need this in the room! A real problem solver.
The dry erase boards are a throw back to the college days of yore before IM and Away messages removed their functionality. It can still be a fun thing, but beware that your markers will be stolen within the first few weeks of school. Get a five-pack at the dollar store.
• Dry Erase Board - Great for friends to leave messages and funny cartoons on.
This is not elementary school, so do not go overboard on school supplies. Most of your money will go towards book, so use sparingly here: One box of pens, one notebook for each class, one or two highlighters, a stapler, some pencils and a graphing calculator ought to do it. Scissors, 3-hole puncher and a small package of post-its are a good touch too.
• Staples Back To School Specials - A complete collection of cheap Back to School supplies.
You will want to stock up on snacks and junk food for late night cravings when the dining hall seems just too far away. You want food items that won't spoil and require little effort to prepare. Think microwavable mac'n'cheese, ramen, granola bars, dry cereal, fruit cups, peanut butter, energy bars. Take advantage of your parents moving you in, and get them to buy you loads of stuff. As optimistic as you are, you won’t make it to the grocery store as often as you plan.
• Snack Food - You won't have to sneak these out of the dining hall.
If the gods created a tape, it would be Duct Tape. This stuff is essential for repairs, but is a bad idea for using on the walls or furniture (goodbye paint, goodbye wood finish), so be careful what you fix. Don’t be fooled by its name; duct tape is useless when it comes to actually repairing ducts. Another great use for this product is trapping your roommate in his/her bed as well as blocking doorways.
• Heavy Duty 3M Duct Tape - This should have its own element on the periodic table named after it.
Bring your favorite CDs and DVDs, but remember that everything has to go someplace. If you have an awesome VHS collection (why do you have an awesome VHS collection?), bring some of it, because you will probably be able to find someone with a VHS player. As for books, bring a few of your favorites, but not your whole library. No one will be impressed by your collection of books. And you’re in college, why the hell do you need books? And burnable DVDs and CDs are great if you want to “borrow” your neighbor’s DVD collection while he/she is out.
from Amazon - Amazon is pretty much the king of selling DVDs - plus
you can bought previously viewed DVDs from other Amazon users for less
• Music from Amazon - Great selection. To save at least 1/3 of the price, buy from other users who are trying to sell their CDs - most are unscratched.
• Books from Amazon - Pretty much the major category from Amazon's humble beginnings in the 90's - remember that decade?
Why wash metal silverware when you can wash plastic silverware?! You probably already have tons of it left over from your graduation party anyhow.
Nearly everyone experiences an identity crisis of some kind their first year of college. It may come after reading Nietzsche in the park, but it may also come from losing your student ID. So, you will want to have your Social Security number memorized. You’ll be writing that sucker down a lot from now on. If you want to get a job, you’re going to need the actual card.
• Disposable Ear Plugs - You never know when your roommate might start singing Phil Collins in their sleep.
• 3M Hooks - Go ahead and mount something!
You will be surprised how useful some tools can be in a dorm room. Specifically screwdrivers! Get one with different heads (flat and Phillips) of different sizes. Other tools may come in handy as well.
• Apollo 39 piece compact tool kit - Ladies love a handyman.
A small package with a few needles, a few different colored threads and a button or two is all you need. You will only need it for emergencies and if you're lucky you’ll be able to bring the items home on breaks to allow another family member to mend them for you.
• Lewis & Clark Sewing Kit - Be prepared if you lose a button on your favorite outfit.
Bring them or buy them there, whatever is most convenient. Standard 60 watt bulbs will usually do the trick, but check your desk lamp and overhead light for their specifications. Energy saver bulbs will last your whole year and, yup, save energy.
• GE Soft White 60 Watt Long Life Bulbs - These bulbs may end up staying in your dorm room longer than you.
If you are unable to make it home for certain family celebrations, send cards and reduce your guilt. Getting real mail is so unusual lately that it quite shocking when you find an envelope with your name on it. Consider mailing some memorabilia to your friends at other schools.
You might not want the responsibility, but plants will brighten a dull room. Take a look at department stores or supermarkets for something cheap that can survive without much maintenance or direct sun.
• Money Tree - Cause these days, college is so expensive!
• Sony Rechargeable Batteries - Much easier and less expensive to go with 1 or 2 sets of these batteries - especially with the markup at most campus stores.
Both will help you get through some homesickness spells. Bring some photos or an old stuffed animal that you will miss (but never a photo of an old stuffed animal, you weirdo). Somebody may make fun of you but they are secretly hiding a similar item. Also bring your hobbies (Frisbee, snowboards, computer games, etc.) because you will definitely be meeting people with similar interests.