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10 things college students don’t need

You want to be prepared for college, but please don’t buy everything and the kitchen sink for your dorm room. Save your time and money and check out this cheat sheet – we’ve listed items that have no business traveling with you to campus! You’ll thank us later.

1. “New” textbooks

Do you really need to buy that $200 book for a biology elective, when you’re a theater arts major? Short answer: No! Instead, rent college textbooks from sites such as, Campus Book Rentals or Rent-A-Text. Reusing is also better for the environment. And yeah, we know it’s not an ideal world and some textbooks may have to be purchased “new” depending on their availability elsewhere. But remember, campus book stores will often allow you to sell new books back. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Some money is better than no money for a book you’ll likely never read again.

2. Printer

Paper printing is so 2008. More professors are going digital, so save space and money and ditch the printer. Printer ink is considered one of the most expensive liquids in the world, topping perfume! If you need to print a paper, put your tuition dollars to work and use your campus’ computer lab. There will also be printers and copying machines at the library.

3. Car

Space-strapped college campuses are notorious for issuing parking tickets. During the first five years of ownership, the median car costs more than $9,100 a year to own, according to Consumer Reports. Walk to class or use public transportation – just like they did in the old days!

4. Bottled water.

You don’t have room for it, the discarded bottles pile up in landfills and they are expensive. Tap water is free. If you’re not lucky enough to live in Oklahoma City or one of the other places voted to have the best tap water for drinking, use a water-filtering pitcher.

5. Fancy laptop

Bring your old laptop from home or buy something affordable (this is not the time to be an early adoptor!). Most colleges have a number of computer labs available in the libary and classrooms. Not to mention, laptop theft is rampant these days. As long as your computer or tablet has enough memory or storage space (which is relatively inexpensive to upgrade), you should be good to go. Refurbished Apple products also have a great reputation for being reliable (and more affordable) than paying market price (not an endorsement, just an idea).

6. Cable

“I watch every channel that I pay for on cable,” said No One Ever. Many of the hottest shows like “House of Cards” and “How I Met Your Mother,” are on Netflix, anyway. Hulu is your friend. Don’t spend all of your work-study money on cable. Shouldn’t you be studying anyway?

7. Credit cards

If you don’t need them, don’t even bring them. It’s too risky to rack up debt before you start your career. College students average $3,173 on their cards, according to a Sallie Mae study. If you miss a payment for longer than 30 days, your credit rating can suffer. Learn to live life without the crutch of easy credit.

8. School supplies

As long as you have a few pens and notebooks, you are fine with the college school supplies. Don’t weigh down your luggage with plastic binders and other back-to-school nonsense – you’ll look like you raided your little sibling’s book bag.

9. Candles

Are these even allowed in student housing anymore? And do you really want to spend your free time peeling melted wax from your desk or worse yet, figuring out how to use a fire extinguisher? Spray air freshener is a better choice than candles – no lighter, no fuss, no problems.

10. Shoes

It hurts to write this, but it’s true. You don’t need more than five pairs of shoes while you’re at school. You’re living a transient life with limited space and lots of people coming in and out of your room…and you can only wear one pair at a time.


Northwestern Mutual, and do not endorse the companies, products and services mentioned or hyperlinked in the above article.