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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

College must-haves by Melis A. '08

My advice on what to get for college!

Class of 2010: I hope you’re all excited about your new temporary housing assignment!

I *believe* every room comes with the following items, though it may vary slightly depending on your dorm. This list is based on Next House:
1. A telephone (the MIT phone policies keep changing, but as of now I think you can make local calls for free. If you’re like me, you’ll unplug the phone and put it under your bed because who needs a limited landline when you have a cell?)
2. A twin bed with frame and mattress
3. Dresser (usually with three or four drawers)
4. Bookcase
5. Trash can
6. Ethernet connection
7. Cable connection
8. Closet space
9. Desk

Things I would highly recommend bringing, in no particular order:
1. Cell phone. If you don’t have one already, I think they’re really crucial. Also, thanks to free nights and weekends, I actually get to keep in close contact with my family, even when they’re hundreds of miles away.
2. Bicycle. Getting a bicycle is not absolutely necessary, but I would recommend it if you are living somewhere far(ish) from the center of campus (like Next House). I got mine at Target for around $110 and it was definitely worth the price. You can also look around your hometowns for used bikes or ask friends and neighbors if they’re looking to sell.
3. Floor lamp and desk lamp. Many MIT dorms have ugly and eye-bothering fluorescent lighting…
4. Computer! Bryan discussed laptop vs. desktop, I’ll contribute to that discussion. For the past three years, I’ve been using a laptop that I won in a competition. I don’t take it out of my room that often, but occasionally I appreciate the mobility. Last year I bought an LCD screen that I connect to my laptop, which is much easier on my eyes. However, running programs like Matlab and Solidworks is absolutely painful on a laptop, so I think my next computer purchase will be a desktop. In general, a laptop isn’t crucial, but having some sort of computer is.
5. A good alarm clock. Bring something that you can rely on and that will actually wake you up! I have a CD clock radio and I <3 it.
6. A refrigerator. If you’re going to be living in Burton Conner, MacGregor, or anywhere else with a kitchen suite, then this isn’t totally necessary, but I couldn’t live without my fridge in Next. You might be able to get a used one, I just got mine from Costco at the beginning of my freshman year and I’ve been using it since then.
7. Posters! Nothing is as boring as a dorm with plain white walls. Bring photos, posters, paintings (basically whatever you can hang on the walls) to spice up the place!
8. Closet organizers and hangers. This may seem dumb… but the dorm closets obviously don’t come with them. The more stuff you can cram into your closet, the better!
9. A dustpan/ any other random cleaning supplies. Your room will get dirty, I guarantee it. La Verde’s will charge you an arm and a leg for cleaning supplies, so bring your own Swiffer or dustpan.
10. Laundry basket and laundry detergent. Also, an iron and small ironing board if you’re not into the whole “wrinkled” look.
11. Sheets. Another “duh,” but hey, better to be thorough.
12. A bathroom caddy. Depending on you live, you’ll probably have to store your bathroom stuff in your room or in a little cubby in the hall bathroom. It helps to have a little basket (one that you can buy from Bed Bath & Beyond or something) to make it easier to tote your stuff around.
13. Towels (duh). In addition to bath towels, I got these little hand towels from Target (I think they were sold in packs of 5 for $3) and they’re great to store in the bathroom. Wash them when they’re dirty and you won’t feel bad if you lose them.
14. Computer speakers. If you’re like me, your laptop speakers are horrible… a pair of speakers will do wonders.
15. Flip flops. The floor of the bathroom and communal showers = gross.
16. A rug. Nothing makes a cold, bare dorm room more cheerful than a rug!
17. Binders and such. So I presume you’re going to MIT for an education? It helps to bring notebook paper, binders, pencils, pens, erasers, a calculator, whatever you need to be prepared in class. I really like having a clipboard, too.
18. Bed stand. This one isn’t totally necessary, but I love having one.
19. Important personal information. For example, a copy of your passport (or your actual passport, if you’re going to be traveling), health insurance card, any immunization records that you have in your possession, driver’s license, and social security card.

And the ONE thing that you MUST have with you… a good attitude! =) Don’t leave this one at home… you’ll find yourself all alone, crying in a dark corner.

11 responses to “College must-haves”

  1. Colin says:

    Thanks for the advice! I have to get all this shopping out of the way shortly, so I’ll definitely use this page as a reference. smile

  2. Ankit '10 says:

    Thats really an extremely comprehensive list!! Thanks a lot Melis….


  3. Minh says:

    Whoa great comprehensive list! Thanks!

  4. Manisha says:

    Yeah I second the question about printers…and what about photocopy machines and scanners? would it be a good idea to invest in a cheap multifunction or are the other things easily available?

  5. Thanks Melis! This list contains answers to questions I hadn’t even thought to ask!

  6. Melis says:

    re: Printers

    This is an excellent question. So for my freshman year, I already had a printer so I just brought it with me. I used it quite often, but mostly because I was too lazy to go to the Athena printer in Next to pick stuff up every time. You can use Next’s printer, but I think the limit is 50 pages per month before they start charging you. On the other hand, if you go to an Athena cluster on campus (like in the Student Center), you can print as much as you want.

    In the beginning of my sophomore year, my cheap printer broke. So, I replaced it with a cheap multifunction printer. Personally, I LOVE it. I can scan, copy, and print. My friends also love it because I can scan my class notes for them! On campus, it’s easy to find a copying machine and there are scanners in the Copy Tech (which is like MIT’s Kinkos).

    But, my roommate never bought a printer and she’s been perfectly well off. So, it’s completely up to you…

  7. Aziz '10 says:

    EXCELLENT post Melis, thanks a lot you really helped. It’s posts like these that we need in the days before orientation smile Thanks again!

  8. holly says:

    do you suggest next residents bring a printer? or are there printers in the next athena clusters that students can use for free?

  9. Phil says:

    wow this list is great! thanks! =] (im living in next!)

  10. Melis says:

    Contrary to semi-popular belief, it doesn’t rain almost every day! The average number of rain/snow days in Boston for December is 12 days. There are MANY absolutely beautiful days…so plenty of opportunities to ride your bike. Also, the roads are cleaned very well, so you can ride your bike in the winter, too.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This question is with reference to cycles. Since it rains frequently (almost every day) in Boston, and also snows for like 3 months at least, wouldn’t a bicycle be rendered useless very often??