It’s hard to know what kind of dorm room accessories and expensive college items you’re actually going to appreciate once you’re settled into your first year of school. Before you sift through the “Back to School” ads and the “What to Bring” lists sent from your school, consider this list of five pricier college items that are worth the investment.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Believe me, you’re going to want these. The student center is a great place to eat & study, until the cheerleading squad comes in to spread school cheer, or until five people sit down next to you to work on their group presentation.

Sometimes it can be great to stay in on a Friday night to finish a project since most people are out, however, parties get shut down and moved to dorm rooms, and the last thing you need is drunk people shouting up and down the halls while you write about War and Peace. You should definitely invest in noise-canceling headphones if you ever want to be productive without spending 24/7 in the school library.

Recommended Headphones


This one should go without saying, but there are a lot of schools that convince you not to bring a computer to school since they have computer labs. Unless those computers are in your building and available 24/7, they’re not going to cut it. Do you want to trek to the computer lab at 9am on a Sunday morning through wind and rain and snow? Didn’t think so.

A laptop is an excellent investment, and there are plenty of powerful, yet affordable ones available. Now you can work on your paper in the sunny quad between classes and watch YouTube videos all night from the comfort of your own bed. Oh, and those school computers block plenty of sites — meaning you won’t be connecting to file-sharing networks.

So go read through our laptop guide and choose one that fits your needs.


I can’t stress this one enough. We all love physical books; believe me, I’m an English major. But you can’t go wrong with an eReader. Rather than spending the $8 for every single play Shakespeare has ever written, you can find most of them in the Kindle or other ebook stores for free.

Tired of lugging your textbooks around? Find their online version – either on Amazon or in eBook format – and send it to your device using Calibre. (For the adventurous types, there’s always the DIY solution.)

This makes studying over holiday breaks a lot easier. And the best part is that you can SEARCH the book for names, theories, pages, and words, rather than flipping through 6oo pages to that one time Tesla was mentioned in your Sociology book so you can get a cool quote. You can also highlight certain sections of the book to return to later. It’s worth it.


Your Razr flip phone was really cool back in 2005, but getting your hands on the latest and greatest in mobile tech isn’t just about appearances. Smartphones give us the power to consolidate our otherwise bulky gadgets into one pocket-friendly (unless you’re packing a phablet) device.

Your camera, MP3 player, and handheld game system are essentially obsolete once you own one of the newer, powerful smartphones. The iPhone is an obvious and safe choice for new users, but Android and Windows Phone devices are becoming more and more impressive.

Take a trip to one of your carrier’s stores or find a retail kiosk and see what they’ve got to offer. You and your parents may have even been oblivious to the fact that you qualify for a free or low-cost phone upgrade.

The Best Smartphones on the Market

School-Approved Appliances

Each school has a different list of dorm-approved appliances, so before you plan your meals around your juicer or having a daily cup from your high-end coffee maker, check with your school to find out what you can and can’t bring.

Some schools may have a wattage limit on microwaves and other appliances, while others have an approved list made up of specific models. Once you find out, get in touch with your new roommate to see what they were planning to bring and try to work together to split the bill.

Disclaimer: This content was created in collaboration with Best Buy.


About the AuthorsCaitlin Self is the grammatically correct writer behind Frugal Nutrition, and contributes to a number of health, travel, and eco-friendly websites and blogs. Mark Frost is the editor-in-chief of HackCollege, a lover of web design, and a documentary fiend.


Image: jimmyweee