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Your College Buying Guide

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It’s no secret that the upcoming school year will look decidedly different.

Most universities have announced that classes will meet in-person in the fall but transition to virtual learning come November. Oregon universities are planning for students to return in the fall, complying with federal, state, and local orders. What does this mean for students moving into residence halls, only to move out a few months later?

Preparing for move-in will be crucial since your living arrangement will be so brief. Stocking up on toiletries, snacks, and school supplies likely won’t be a priority for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, we’ve created a college buying guide to help you get ready for the big move. Aside from stylish, protective face coverings, here are things you’ll need for the few months you’re on campus, others you can leave at home, as well as some tips to ensure a smooth transition.

What You'll Need


Bedding is essential, especially for making a twin-sized bed feel a little more like home.

  • Comforter. A great way to customize your room.
  • Pillows. Add comfort and flair.
  • Sheets. Wash every two weeks.
  • Mattress pad. Beneficial for a good night’s sleep or after-class nap.
  • Blanket. For the inevitable all-nighters.

School Supplies

Wait until the first week of school to purchase textbooks so you know which ones you’ll actually need. Since school will transition into online learning, a lot of textbooks will be provided virtually. However, you’ll need these items:

  • Backpack. Self-explanatory!
  • Laptop. Easy to carry on campus.
  • Notebooks. One or two depending on how many courses you’re taking. Or go completely virtual by taking notes online.
  • Pens, pencils, sticky notes, and highlighters. To maximize note taking.
  • Headphones. Walking to class will go by much faster.
  • Chargers. Can’t forget these!
  • Reusable water bottle. Stay hydrated during study sessions.
  • Desk lamp. Helps productivity and your sleeping roommate.
  • Portable disinfecting wipes. To wipe down those communal desks.


Cleanliness and sanitation are part of our “new normal.” Make sure you have what you need.

  • Shower caddy. Only carry what you need.
  • Shower shoes. For communal bathrooms.
  • Towels. Have two or three on hand and wash regularly.
  • Toiletries. Only bring what you need.
  • Cleaning supplies. Great for disinfecting.
  • Hand sanitizer. An essential.
  • Tissues. College is a hot spot for the cold and flu.
  • Extra face coverings. These will likely be required for classes.
  • Thermometer. A good idea just in case you’re coming down with something.


Here are some things to buy to ensure a smooth transition to living on your own.

  • Laundry basket. Don’t forget to wash your clothes!
  • Laundry detergent. Pods work great and are easily stored.
  • Mini fan. Effective for short-term needs.
  • Clothes. Only for that season.
  • Microwave. For when the dining hall gets old.
  • Keurig. College students run on coffee.
  • Coffee mug. A great opportunity to decorate without bringing more than you need.
  • Vitamins and medications. Staying healthy is a priority right now.

Remember, the more you move in with, the more you’ll have to move out. A good rule of thumb is to only pack what you’ve been using—if you haven’t touched something in the last year, chances are you won’t need it now.

What You Won’t Need

Planning what not to bring to college is equally important as planning what to bring. It’s easier to buy items when needed rather than be stuck with too much.

  • Futon. Hard to move in and out. Consider a chair or bean bag, which are great for extra seating and half the price.
  • Mini fridge. The dining hall won’t get that old in only a few months.
  • TV. Save money and space by watching shows on your laptop.

Tips for a Smooth Transition

Moving into college is exciting yet stressful. Here are some tips to make the process easier overall.

  • Review residence hall regulations. Brush up on these to make sure you don’t break any rules.
  • Sync with your roommates. Figure out which items you’re each bringing so you don’t end up with two coffee makers or microwaves.
  • Take advantage of university amenities. Check with the university to see what amenities they provide so you don’t buy more than you need.

Decorating a dorm room can be a gratifying part of the college experience. But it’s the memories you make with the people you meet that stay with you. College is already expensive, so by planning well and knowing what to buy (or opt out of buying), you’ll be set up for a great school year. (And so will your wallet.)

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