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20 Things Every College Student Should Carry

December 15, 2008


1. Umbrella – No one ever mentions it when you are packing for college, but it WILL rain. It will almost always be in the first week of classes, and the bookstore will sell out of umbrellas. So, keep one in your car, and check the weather before you leave in the morning. You really don’t want to walk 20 minutes from the car to class in the rain and then sit in soaking pants, looking like you’ve peed yourself, for three hours.

2. Old pair of shoes / Old  clothing – It will happen to most of you, eventually, that you get a really awesome opportunity to do something crazy, but you’ll be wearing an amazing new outfit or high heels. Keep an outfit in the car that you don’t mind ruining , just in case. You won’t regret it. Also, if you spill a strawberry milkshake on your best friend, you can offer her something to wear.

3. Blanket – If you break down in the winter, decide to go camping, or just want to have a picnic, having a blanket available will make things much faster, and it’s always good for sitting in the stands during nighttime October football games.

4. Frisbee / Football / Basketball – whatever your sport, you want to be able to play anytime, anywhere.

5. Disposable Camera – Having a camera means that you can take pictures when you’re in a car accident.

6. Flashlight – if you have a terrible urge to pee in the middle of the night somewhere between Tulsa and Vegas, you’ll want a flashlight to make sure you aren’t standing over a cactus. Also, if your car breaks down, you’ll need light to fix it. At the very least you can hold the light while somebody ELSE fixes it.

7. Coat or Jacket – you never know when there is going to be a sudden blizzard. Most likely, it will happen at 2am as you walk out of a “study session” in a mini skirt. Having a coat in the car will keep you from turning into an ice cube.

8. Something to read – just in case you’re stuck waiting somewhere for two hours to see a doctor, you’ll want SOMETHING to read, whether it’s Dickens, a Superman Comic, or your World of Warcraft manual.

9. Ice Scraper – even if you live in Florida, you will awaken one morning to discover that your car is completely iced over, and you’re already ten minutes late for your final. An ice scraper works about a thousand times better than a debit card, so invest in one BEFORE you need it.

10. Water balloons / Sled / Nerf Guns / etc – it’s always important to have fun things to do, and having something strange and fun in the trunk of the car will make you everyone’s new best friend.


1. $20 – sometimes, even today, you’ll go somewhere that only accepts cash. Be prepared!

2. $5 in coins – you’ll need them for parking meters, vending machines, and copiers. Don’t be put in a situation where you have to convince a grouchy cashier to give you change.

3. Fork – It seems stupid, but one day you’ll be having a picnic, or you’ll order something to go and they won’t put a fork in the bag. Have you ever tried to eat chili cheese fries with your fingers? Don’t try. Just carry the fork.

4. Paper – You can always type things into your phone, but what about when you need to leave someone a note? Even just one piece of paper is fine, as long as you replace it when you use it.

5. Emergency Contact Numbers – in case something happens to you, or in case you leave your purse or backpack somewhere, emergency contact numbers enable someone to call your parents (or whoever’s number you put in there) and let them know that they have your stuff (or you).

6. Pocket knife – not everyone is comfortable carrying one, or feel that they need one, but they have a LOT of uses, and most guys won’t go anywhere without them. Remember, they’re not for protection, they’re to open things. And speaking of protection…..

7. Protection – even if you’re not planning on having sex, carry protection. You never know what will happen. Even if you never use it, you may be able to help a friend.

8. Plastic bag – if you’re out, it starts raining, and you’ve forgotten your umbrella, a plastic bag can be a life saver. I usually use a Kroger bag, but a large ziplock would work just fine. Once it starts pouring, the most important things to put in the bag are cell phones, calculators, laptops, etc, but they can also protect those oh-so-expensive books. The only thing worse than spending the day completely soaked is having all of your things soaked and ruined as well.

9. Important Phone Numbers – this can go on the back of your emergency contacts, but it is just as important. Write down your roommate’s number, the number for a cab, the number for the local police, the customer service number for your debit or credit card, and anything else that you might need. You never know when you’ll lose your cell phone or get into a dangerous situation. You absolutely won’t have time to find these numbers on the spot, so have them in advance. (This is also where those coins come in handy!)

10. Business cards – this might seem silly if you aren’t looking for a job or don’t run a business, but business cards can be one of the most useful things that you will carry. A good business card might contain your name, number, email, and possibly major or career choice. You can also put your picture on it if you would like. You can use it when you meet a prospective employer, when you need to meet with a professor, or when you meet someone interesting at the bar. It may seem a little strange to hand out a business card at a bar, but your handwriting just might be unreadable in the dark . You can make the card really informal if you think that it will mostly be used for recreational purposes, and the picture is almost a must-have in this case, so a face will stay with the name. Every one of us has met someone that we really intended to contact again, for whatever purpose, and then forgotten their name or lost their number. Business cards get put immediately into a wallet or purse, and so this is less likely to happen.

Anyone else have any suggestions of “must carry” items for college students?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2008 11:43 pm

    Its always a great idea to carry around an umbrella!

  2. April 22, 2009 6:57 am

    After reading through the article, I just feel that I need more information on the topic. Can you share some resources ?

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