7 College Essentials You Probably Don’t Have on Your Shopping List

This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for your support! For more information, please visit our Privacy Policy.

My freshman year of college taught me a lot of valuable life lessons. Not surprisingly, some of the most important lessons I learned weren’t taught in the classroom at all.

Time management, perseverance and learning how to live on my own were just a few. I also learned that the standard college essentials shopping list is fun to shop for but it was the little things that weren’t on the list that made my life easier.

Speaking from experience, here is a list of seven underrated items I found to be surprisingly essential. 

A Pocket Style Manual

This is probably one of the single most underrated items for all college students and yet one of the most valuable textbooks you will EVER purchase.

College Essentials

I can’t begin to count the number of essays, memos and term papers I wrote over the course of my college career and I never failed to pull A Pocket Style Manual out at least once.

It covers everything you need to know about MLA, APA and Chicago format requirements. Plus grammar tips, source citation and so much more.

Energy Bars

No, I’m not talking about an edible version of those sugary drinks so many of us are guilty of pounding when study sessions run into the wee hours of the morning.

Before you start hitting those, try snacking on healthier energy bars during your study breaks. I liked to snack on CLIF Energy Bars, the chocolate chip variety.

They’re packed with 23 vitamins and minerals, made with organic ingredients and are a good source of fiber and protein.

College Essentials

eReader or Tablet

When it comes to college, a laptop is probably number one on almost every students wish list, but I found just as much value in my Kindle eReader.

It saved me hundreds of dollars and probably just as many pounds in my backpack thanks to the ability to rent/buy e-textbooks from Amazon. Okay, and I’m a bookworm so of course I took advantage of the Kindle lending library.

You can choose which Kindle is best for you here. 

A Real Alarm Clock

Your phone isn’t always going to be enough. Late nights burning off the effects of a hard week can leave one rolling in a bit too late on a Sunday and easily missing that 8am class on Monday thanks to a dead phone battery.

It’s time to put on our big girl britches and purchase an adult alarm clock.

College Essentials

Office Supplies

Okay, okay. You probably do have these on your shopping list, but do you have enough of them?

That single pack of pens? Gone in a week. The 100 pack of notecards? Not nearly sufficient enough. 

During the school year you will lose approximately 572 ballpoint pens, chew the eraser off 176 pencils, tear a hole through 56 sheets of notebook paper, recycle a dozen packs of notecards and break at least two 3-ring binders.

All of which are priced right up there with ‘luxury’ items at the campus bookstore. So make sure to stock up at the beginning of the year when you can find these items on sale.


Even if you and your roomie gel in musical taste, there are going to be times where headphones are essential. Many teachers today are producing podcasts, audio lectures and supplemental materials.

Headphones will help you focus on what you’re hearing and sparing your roomie a lesson from a class they didn’t sign up for.

On the flip side, if you need absolute quiet in or to study and your roomie loves to listen to music, a solid pair of noise canceling headphones will allow you to avoid the trek to the library every day.

Mattress Topper

When it comes to dorm decorating a lot of thought goes into comforters, throw pillows and organizational products and those are important but you can still get a good nights sleep without a throw pillow.

The same can’t be said about a poor mattress, and I have yet to hear of a college dorm room having an amazing mattress. There are times where sleep is going to be scarce which is why it’s all the more important to get a good nights rest when you can catch some Z’s.

A simple mattress topper can do wonders for an otherwise brick of a bed.

College Essentials

ALL of these items can be ordered and shipped right to your door via free two-day shipping with an Amazon Prime account.

I first discovered Amazon Prime by signing up for Amazon Prime Student my sophomore year of college. It wasn’t long before I was exploiting all of the awesome ways Amazon Prime Student makes obtaining textbooks and school supplies easy and convenient.

From renting ebooks to 2-day textbook deliveries and last minute school supplies to apartment furnishings, I regularly had Amazon packages showing up at my residence.

Amazon has loads of other textbooks available for purchase through Amazon Prime Student and I almost always found them cheaper on Amazon than at the campus bookstore. Plus, I got to skip the long lines and chaos that’s inevitable this time of year. 

Right now students can sign up for Amazon Prime Student and get a free six-month trial (courtesy of Sprint) and get access to the free two-day shipping, thousands of movies and TV shows, exclusive college deals, and more!

After that it’s just $49 a year (half the price of a regular Amazon Prime membership) and includes over a million songs with Prime Music and one free pre-released book a month with Kindle First.

Take it from me, free music and books are so helpful for sticking to that college student budget.

Be sure to sign up for Amazon Prime Student for free two-day shipping, thousands of movies and TV shows, exclusive college deals, and more!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.