School is rapidly approaching for students across the country and, if you are anything like me during my first year of college, you are probably stressing out about all the things you need for the upcoming year.  Before you sprain your wrist from too much credit card swiping action, it would be useful to know what you really need before emptying your pockets.  Many teen magazines and blogs publish misleading articles about dorm room/apartment essentials.  They urge us to buy products that they label as must-haves, but in reality you can do without such as:

1. Mini-Fridge –  Yes, having your own private fridge is nice, but you won’t starve without having one.  If you live in a dorm, you probably have a meal plan for on-campus dining.  Just make sure you select a meal plan that accommodates your eating habits and you won’t need to rely on a fridge.  It’s nice to be able to have late-night munchies whenever you want, but a mini-fridge is not a necessity.

2. Car –  Before you beg your parents for your own set of four-wheels of freedom, keep in mind a car is not important to have during your first year of college. Cars are money-guzzlers that require a lot of maintenance that may be too much work for first-year students to handle.  Many colleges won’t let you have a car your first year anyway, so plan for your trip to the nearest car dealership for another time.

3. Laptop -  Many would say that the most important item to have during your university days is a laptop, and even some colleges today are making laptops mandatory to have.  Although college life is much easier with this vital gadget, I’m here to tell you from experience that you can survive without a personal computer.  My first month of college I did not have a laptop and for a English major who writes tons of papers, not having access to Microsoft word 24/7 is like committing academic suicide.  How did I ever survive my cave-man days without a laptop?  If you are without a laptop for whatever reason, a great back-up plan is using a computer at a library.  Campus libraries are great because students usually have access to anything in the library, like computers, and campus libraries stay open late; some libraries even operate 24 hours a day!  My campus library has a laptop rental service, so if I couldn’t bear doing my homework in a public space, I had the option to have my own laptop for a limited time.  It’s great to have a laptop, but not necessary.  Students should not feel pressured to run out and buy a laptop because there are ways to get around not having one.

4. Extra Seating -  Most girls dream of living their college life like a PBteen ad, with their friends in their room munching on popcorn and sipping sodas while sitting on plush and stylish dorm furniture.  The reality of college life is most dorms are too small to have couches and love seats in them.  Just buy some floor pillows or back pillows for your bed and that will solve any seating issues for your friends.

5. Dorm Decor -  Although it would be awesome to have the coolest room in the residence hall, your dorm room doesn’t need a HGTV makeover.  I’ve seen blog posts before about how decorating your room can erase homesickness, but so can some pictures and phone calls from your friends and family.  Put the paint brush away–it’s not necessary.

Remember that you don’t need a lot of money to have the “college experience.”  Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t afford the latest and greatest Seventeen advertises.  Trust me, you will bond with many people over the lack of moolah in college.  Enjoy college without fussing over material things.

Have anything to add to the list?