7 College Essentials Worth Investing In For Your Freshman Year

7 College Essentials Worth Investing In For Your Freshman Year

Your post-secondary experience can come with a lot of expenses, but what are the college essentials really worth investing in? 

We’re going to cover seven of these worthy essentials to invest in for your freshman year in college in today’s post to help make sure you’re spending your money wisely.  

7 college essentials worth investing in:

  • Your laptop
  • Your mattress/bedding
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Good walking shoes
  • An outfit for interviews, meetings, etc. 
  • A sturdy, comfortable backpack
  • Some comfort items

Invest in a good-quality laptop.

There’s no question that a laptop is on the list of college essentials! While the initial investment you spend on a good quality laptop might seem steep, keep in mind just how much you’ll be utilizing this tool. For many students, it will be several hours a day. If you have a reliable, fast laptop, you’ll be more productive and efficient, ultimately making this one of the most worthy investments for your college experience. 


Whether you’re living in a dorm or off-campus, good-quality bedding is a smart investment.

Sleep is a valuable resource for college students—one that’s often not prioritized as much as it should be! In fact, all kinds of studies point to college students not getting nearly enough sleep. 

There are bound to be some nights you don’t get quite as much sleep as you’d like. So it’s critical to maximize the quality of sleep you DO get. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to ensure each night of sleep is as good as it can be. 

A reusable water bottle.

You won’t always have time to run to the cafeteria to grab a bottle of water. When you purchase a durable reusable water bottle, you’ll find it comes in handy more than you ever imagined! 

Not only is a reusable water bottle an environmentally friendly option, but it can also save you money over the years! A high-quality water bottle that keeps your liquids cold all day could run you about $40. But if you’re spending $3 a day on a water bottle, you’ll see a reusable water bottle is a much wiser investment!

Walking shoes.

Investing in a good-quality pair of shoes will pay off every single day you wear them. As a college student, you’ll cover a lot of ground in a day walking from class to class. When you can make these trips in supportive, comfortable shoes, you’ll be a much happier camper! If you’re not focused on your sore feet, you’ll have a lot more time and attention to give your studies and other important matters. 

A business casual outfit.

College students will find a business casual outfit comes in handy a lot more than they initially expect. From dinners to interviews, meetings, and more, showing up in a clean, somewhat professional outfit for these occasions sends a message that you’re put together, responsible, and serious about the opportunities you’re presented with. 

Your backpack.

A backpack is one of these college essentials that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

College textbooks are notoriously heavy, and you’ll often have to carry several of them at a time. Look for a backpack that can comfortably carry several pounds, while still keeping your shoulders and back protected from the load. 

Another consideration for your college backpack is finding one with a dedicated laptop compartment with padding. If your backpack gets dropped or thrown, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your laptop is well protected! 

Comfort items. 

Are you attending post-secondary away from home? Having some things on hand to keep you comfortable or remind you of home is something worth investing in—to an extent. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy the exact same couch you have at home or the same painting on the wall. 

But if there are little things—like the same laundry detergent your mom uses or a candle that reminds you of home—spending a bit of money on these things can be a reasonable investment. 

As a good rule of thumb, anything you want to last all four years of college (or more) tend to be worth a higher price tag than something you won’t get as much use out of. Something all seven of these college essentials have in common is that they can be used year after year! 

What are some of the college essentials you brought with you for your freshman year? 

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here to learn more. 

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these: 

What to expect at freshman orientation

Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors

7 ways to support your child during the college application process

Bowdoin has neuroscience, friendship and nature all in one small college

neuroscience major

Bowdoin College, nestled in the heart of pine grove and athletic fields in Brunswick, Maine, is a leading liberal arts college that focuses on the teaching and study of the environment across the disciplines. Though primarily a liberal arts college, their academic strengths include the sciences, especially neuroscience and environmental sciences.


A little known fact about Bowdoin is that student research is an important component of faculty tenure. This value leads to an abundance of research opportunities for students across disciplines.


Bowdoin is the alma mater of famous authors such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, so nature, art, and friendship are integral parts of the student experience. To emphasize this, before classes begin, the entire entering class takes pre-orientation hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or community service trips that teach them about the people and the landscape of Maine.

bowdoin liberal arts college

As part of the curriculum at Bowdoin, freshmen choose from a variety of seminars that stress reading and writing skills. Over the undergraduate years, students must complete 32 courses, including one each in natural sciences and math, social and behavioral sciences, and fine arts and humanities, in addition to a required course in the visual and performing arts. On their website, Bowdoin discusses its “Offer of the College” which is worth referencing here because it speaks volumes about the mission and quality of the educational experience for students:



– Adapted from the original “Offer of the College” by William DeWitt Hyde – President of Bowdoin College 1885 – 1917

To be at home in all lands and all ages;

To count Nature a familiar acquaintance,
And Art an intimate friend;

To gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work
And the criticism of your own;

To carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket.
And feel its resources behind you in whatever task
you undertake;

To make hosts of friends …
Who are to be leaders in all walks of life;

To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms
And cooperate with others for common ends –

This is the offer of the college for the
best four years of your life.


Wow . . . doesn’t that say so much about the community life at Bowdoin? I love that “Offer”!


Additional quick facts about Bowdoin:

Acceptance: 10%

Freshman retention: 98%

Freshmen from out of state: 89%

4-year Graduation rate: 88%

Most popular majors: government, economics, biology



Social: Bowdoin’s social life is centered around their social houses, which have replaced Greek life organizations on campus. The houses host all the events – academic, cultural, as well as parties – and are open to all students at the college. In the winter time, students take advantage of the nearby ski resorts, hiking, kayaking, and canoeing trips to enjoy Maine’s wintry landscape. Another big part of student life focuses on sports, especially Bowdoin’s ice hockey team, the Polar Bears. A strong 70% of the students participate in club sports, intramurals, and recreational activities.


Similar colleges to consider: Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan


Housing: 91% of students live either in Bowdoin’s renovated, historic halls or in the social houses on campus. Because Bowdoin prioritizes maintaining their inclusive and dynamic community, all freshman and sophomores are required to live on campus, with juniors and seniors rarely given the privilege to live off campus.


Financial aid: Bowdoin offers only need-based scholarships, with 100% of need met. Although the tuition and fees are $68,000, the average financial aid package is $44,000, with about 80% of students receiving scholarships. There is also an additional $1,000 to $2,000 that can be received from Bowdoin’s National Merit Scholarship, with $2,000 being given to those eligible and $1,000 as a recognition reward to those who are not eligible.


What do you think about Bowdoin? What about this college is a good fit? Please post your comments below.

3 Easy Tips To Write Your Personal Statement And Get Admitted

3 Easy Tips to Write Your Personal Statement & Get Admitted

Does your dream college require a personal statement for their admissions process?

Many of my seniors who are applying to state universities will complete a personal statement for their application, rather than respond to an essay prompt. Prompts on the Common Application are typical for college admissions essays. Although the personal statement is also used to determine college admissions, it’s quite different.

What is a personal statement?

Think of the personal statement as a brief bio, about 1 to 1-1/2 pages. It should be just as interesting and creative as an essay. When I say “bio”, the first response from you may be to start with “I was born…” That’s boring and too far back.

Here are three tips I share with my seniors so that they write a compelling personal statement to get admitted:

1. Brainstorm about 3-4 highlights of your life story.

You can start by listing experiences, activities, or people that are important to you. Taking this first step will help you think more broadly about who you are and what matters to you.

2. Focus on an important experience that you think speaks to who you are.

Nothing is more boring to read than a laundry list of your accomplishments. This won’t help you stand out. Focusing on one experience will be more interesting to your reader because it will:

  1. a) have more depth
  2. b) grab the reader’s attention, and
  3. c) keep you from rambling.

Yes, it will take more time for you to write. But it will also have more impact.

3. Use your own writings but not the writing of others.

Your personal voice is critical in a personal statement.

Reviewing personal statements that others have written to get into college will get in the way of telling your own story. If you need more inspiration, you can incorporate what you’ve written in your other college admissions essays.

Remember that the personal statement, like the college admissions essay, is written from the heart (not the head). In short, that means it should not be treated as something you write for school, i.e. no five-paragraph essay allowed.

If you are applying to schools that require admission essays rather than personal statements, here are some tips for making your college essay to stand out among thousands of others. And what if you come across a college application with questions noted as “optional?” Should you still answer them? Click here to find out.

Whether you need to write a personal statement or a classic college essay to get admitted, it just takes a little planning to ensure your chances of admission success.

Which colleges are you applying to that require a personal statement?

If you’re looking for one-on-one guidance to help you get into (or pay for) college, click here to learn more. 

Want to see more posts like this? Don’t miss these: 

What to expect at freshman orientation

Top 10 must-dos for college-bounds juniors

7 ways to support your child during the college application process

This article was originally published on July 26th, 2016, and has since been updated. 

Top 5 Tips for Best Campus Visits that Save Time and Money

how to make most of campus visit

Many college-bound sophomores and juniors are visiting campuses in March and April during Spring Break. Those campus visits are an important step in the college admissions process and can shape the application process in surprising ways. Given that many colleges will also have “Admitted Student” events in March and April, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for times when prospective students can visit.

These visits are informational so they offer a great opportunity to learn as much as you can about the admissions process and envision your college experience. Because you visit doesn’t mean you must apply. Again, you’re going to gather information. Once your schedule is set, use these tips for a successful visit:

1. Campus size doesn’t always matter

Visit colleges of varying sizes so that you understand whether size matters or not.  When you’re reading about campuses on-line, it’s sometimes difficult to get a feel for the size. Also, the physical space of the campus may attribute either a “small” or “big” feel moreso than the enrollment numbers suggest. Depending on the urban-ness or rural-ness of a campus, it can feel more “big” or “small” when you visit in person.


2. Watch your Attitude during the visit

Remember that you are being “interviewed” at all times when you tour a college campus. Even if you’re not in a formal, one-on-one meeting with an admissions officer or faculty member, when you set foot on the campus, consider it as a 2-3 hour interview. With that being said, it’s important to be on “good” behavior. For some colleges, these visits are recorded as “demonstrated interest” and may matter in the application process.


3. Not everyone should go

Tour the campus alone or with parents/siblings. Especially, do not visit with your high school sweetheart.  I have actually been on visits where students are there with a sweetheart hanging on to their every hip move. Think about how this looks. Not to mention that the visit can be short-changed by your sweetheart’s impression of the campus. 

This may also apply if your teen has a sibling who will be tired or annoyed during the visit. When I took my son on campus visits, his sister stayed at home. Her interests were so different that she would have been bored and distracting.


4. Check out the neighbors

Many college campuses are shaped by the neighborhoods surrounding them. Some neighborhoods are good and some . . . not so good. Check out the neighborhood surrounding the college campus. If you’re not comfortable there, perhaps that’s a sign! Prospective students should feel comfortable with the surrounding area because the on-campus life is often intertwined with off-campus life.

If you are concerned about security, I would suggest that you get an on-campus (and off-campus) police report of recent incidents.


5. Have questions ready
brown university campus

Researching the college prior to your visit almost always generates more questions than it answers. Information from the website and viewbooks can be confirmed during your campus visit. For example, you can ask about parking conditions, security, food quality, dorm life, etc. There are a number of other topics or concerns that will occur in the moment as you’re listening to a tour guide or interviewer.

Always ask questions during your visit and any interview. Asking questions demonstrates your interest and intellectual curiosity


Throughout the year, I visit dozens of college campuses and learn something new every time. With each visit, it’s important for me to write notes so that I keep track of all that I learned. Please download our Campus Visit Checklist so that your teen remembers what they learned and keep track of how each college would be a fit for their interests and needs.

Where are you visiting this spring? What additional tips do you have for making the most of your campus visits?