College is a step toward independence for many young adults. It may be your first time living away from home and managing your own finances, and the prospect is likely both exciting and daunting.

When you start college, it’s important to be prepared for the changes that life will throw at you. Here are eight essentials for every college freshman:

1. Your own bank account

As you work toward your college degree, you are also working toward becoming financially independent. Open a bank account, and make the effort to get some sort of financial tracking software to help you with money management. Apps like Mint and YNAB are available for mobile devices so you can check your accounts from anywhere. In addition, make sure that you download your bank’s mobile app so you can monitor your bank account regularly.

2. Portable computer

Whether it’s a laptop, netbook, or tablet, you’ll benefit from having some sort of portable computer. Not only is this type of device handy for completing assignments without the hassle of the university computer lab but it also makes taking notes in class much easier. If you go with a tablet, it makes sense to also get a keyboard attachment and a stand for ease of use.

3. Stackable storage bins

Dorm rooms are notoriously small, and you’ll likely be sharing the space with another person. If you want to maximize your own space, consider stackable storage bins. You can also look into other organizers for the closet space you have, as well as for under your bed. The time-honored way to create space under your bed is to put the bed on cinder blocks, although it’s also possible to purchase bed-raisers made specifically for the task.

4, Power strip

Don’t forget to purchase a multi-outlet power strip with surge protection. Look for one that also includes USB charging capability so that all of your devices can be powered and charged from the same source.

5. Mini-fridge with microwave

When you’re living in a dorm, a mini-fridge with a microwave on top can be very useful. In college, I had one with a small freezer compartment as well. It was handy for small snacks, a half-gallon of milk, fruit, and other perishable items. Plus, having the microwave allowed for some cooking in the dorm, which saved me money.

6. Emergency supplies

Get a small first aid kit, a small tool kit, and small sewing kit. You don’t need anything fancy, but it’s helpful to have a supply of simple items that can provide you with what you need in a pinch, whether that’s a Band-Aid, extra batteries when the power goes out, or a screwdriver to tighten a drawer handle. Duct tape and WD-40 should also be in your tool kit.

7. Safe

If you share a dorm room or an apartment, it’s a good idea to bring a safe. Even if you live alone, a safe can be a smart purchase because you never know when disaster—or thieves—will strike. A small fireproof and waterproof safe can store your important documents, your valuables, and money that you aren’t keeping with you.

8. Small vacuum

You won’t have anyone to clean up after you while away at school, so be sure you have the tools to do it yourself. A small, handheld vacuum is a simple appliance that you can keep almost anywhere. Also keep small versions of other cleaning supplies, including air freshener, a dust rag, and an all-purpose spray cleaner.

You can’t plan for everything, but as a college freshman living away from home for the first time, it’s important to be as prepared as possible. Keep this list handy and update it as you go through college. When you move into your first off-campus apartment, this list will likely get even longer.

Miranda Marquit is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in personal finance, family finance and business topics. She writes for several online and offline publications. Miranda is the author of Confessions of a Professional Blogger: How I Make Money as an Online Writer and the writer behind

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