Must-Have College Essentials that No One Needs

Must-Have College Essentials that No One Needs

Corporate misconceptions of dorm living

 

You may have noticed every store with enough relevant stock to have a going-to-college sale tends to jump on the anticipation of soon-to-be freshmen. These companies generally have something of an elevated perception of what dorm living is like for most people. The showroom photographs where they display all their "essential" furnishings feature rooms that most college grads would be lucky to inhabit. In order to profit from the inflated excitement about your first big day at drinking camp, these companies tend to insist you need a lot of products that you will probably never get to use during your first year. Here's a few to skip as you and your parents embark on your quest to outfit your dorm room in colors you will almost definitely later regret.

A Futon
Recommended by Target

If you're like 99% of dorm-dwellers, you're barely going to have space in your room for your own bed, let alone a fold-out couch. Those who have graduated to apartment living might make good use of a futon, but if you're a freshman, you're more than likely to be stuck in the same tiny concrete box as everybody else your age. 

Coffee tables
Recommended by Walmart

Most dorm room suppliers seem a little fuzzy on the idea that most dorm room occupiers don't exactly have a full living room. You'll be doing the majority of your in-dorm lounging in the common areas, where there are already things like couches and tables and TVs. Your room is for sleeping and maybe the occasional homework if you're not the claustrophobic type. Unless you lucked out on a huge suite your first year (and let's be honest, you didn't) you can go ahead and skip right over all the real person furniture included in these shopping guides. That includes TV stands and flatscreens bigger than 22". Speaking of...

Flatscreen TVs
Recommended by Target

Maybe you're a huge gamer. Maybe you're really good about locking your door. But in a big enough communal living space, sometimes fancy things just go missing. And if you just shelled out on a huge personal LCD, you might find your investment doesn't have a lot of return. Theft aside, crammed dorm rooms are prone to accidents when subject to the occasional tomfoolery. Most of what you'd do on a TV can be done on a more durable, more hideable laptop, anyway. Get your shows from Hulu and your games from Steam and pass on the widescreen.

The iPad 2
Recommended by Walmart

Yeesh, Walmart, that's a little presumptive. Even at your generously slashed price of half a grand, the iPad's not exactly the most affordable accessory. If you're going to shell out $500 for tech, might as well opt for a Windows laptop that can do at least 100 more things than the glossy, Jobs-sanctioned society marker. "Essential" for show-offs, maybe. Trust me: you're not going to want to be writing papers on a touchscreen keyboard, no matter how intuitive your autocorrect may be.

An Outdoor Grill
Recommended by Crate & Barrel

The hell?

A Portable Dishwasher
Recommended by Walmart

For real?

Old-school Calculators
Recommended by Crate & Barrel

Aww, those are cute--for elementary school, maybe. Remember that time we integrated calculators and a lot of other devices into our phones? Go for the TI-89 if you're going to be taking math, but otherwise I'm sure you can depend on more recent technology to crunch your arithmetic. 

Wusthof Knife Set
Recommended by Amazon

I'm not sure how much gourmet cooking you remember doing in your college years, but I seemed to make do with a free mug, a plastic bowl, and a spoon stolen from the dining hall for all my in-house dining needs. I still don't have a fancy knife set. I probably won't have one this decade and that's fine with me.

Koolatron BC10-G Coca-Cola 15-Can-Capacity Bottle-Shaped Fridge
Recommended by Amazon

Oh my goodness. Just kidding. This is the most essential of them all. This product is the key to any and all social success you may have in your college life. If your parents don't have a spare $120 to plop down on a Coke-shaped Coke fridge, I'm sorry, you're doomed to die alone and unloved.