4 Back-to-School Must-Haves for the University Student

In the search for the perfect book bag and first-day outfit, these important items are often overlooked. Here’s your friendly reminder.
September 1, 2017
9 mins read

After three long years of undergrad hell, I have made it to my senior year. Graduation is in sight and, as anyone presented with a life-changing transition would, I have become reminiscent regarding my college experience in the past few days.

It seems like it was only yesterday when everyone was trying to compare universities to find the best fit. Lost in the nostalgia, I forgot about seemingly unimportant yet ultimately essential items for my success, like a can opener and soap for my dishwasher, making dinner preparation a bit difficult today. For that reason, I decided to compile a list of necessities for the university student’s non-academic success. Wouldn’t want anyone to suffer through hand washing dishes as I just had to.

1. The Crockpot

Some college campuses have banned slow cookers for the sake of fire safety, which is not a necessary precaution, as most are safe to be left on for 8-10 hours unattended. Nonetheless, slow cookers are every college student’s best friend (next to ramen) because they are capable of cooking most meals traditionally prepared in the oven or microwave at half the energy and out-of-pocket purchasing cost.

Meals that would normally demand hours of preparation and attention are hands-free and no hassle with the slow cooker. Once the ingredients have been placed in the slow cooker, there’s no need to monitor the food in fear of it overcooking. Dessert and dinner menu items such as lasagna, peach cobbler and mashed potatoes can be prepared in this energy-saving device in about the same time it would take in an oven, but with less money spent on energy.

Slow cookers are a busy university student’s best friend (Image via The Healthy Fish)

The energy comparison website Uswitch says that slow cookers are an energy-efficient option because they use a little more energy than the traditional light bulb, saving households 50 percent in energy costs compared to if they had used an oven to cook the same meals. Most slow cookers range from $20 to $100, with the number-one best selling slow cooker on Amazon costing a mere $30.

For the college student hoping to impress their friends with a whole roasted turkey for the annual Friendsgiving at little to no cost or effort, the slow cooker is the way to go.

2. Essential Oils + Diffuser

The popularity of essential oils in the last year or so may be alarming for some, but really the mainstream public has finally accepted what grandma and the hippies have been preaching all along. Scientists are figuring out that essential oils are a safer and often more effective alternative to modern medicine with the effects they have on the mind and body.

While drugs toxify the body with artificial ingredients, suppressing the nervous system and killing both good and bad bacteria in the process, essential oils work to do the complete opposite. These oils detoxify the body, strengthen the nervous system and promote the friendly flora in the body by strictly targeting bad bacteria.

I suggest that every college student invest in a diffuser and collection of essential oils for their sanity’s sake. Not only do essential oils elevate one’s mood and encourage a sense of relaxation, but they also work to ward off illness and improve cognitive function. All benefits ideal for the typically stressed-out and sleep-deprived college student.

3. Bicycle

When my mom dropped me off in Tennessee for college four years ago, she didn’t leave me with a car, but with a bicycle. Of course, I was bummed about it, but I discovered this pedal-powered vehicle to be just as useful. While my other friends were forced to decide between take-out or gas, I didn’t have to make that choice; the answer would always be food.

Bikes allow the freedom to travel around campus without the burden of fluctuating gas prices, and reduce the amount of time needed to spend at the gym exercising daily because getting to class becomes an exercise activity. On the way to a test or quiz, bike-having college students are ahead of the game, as their muscles loosen and their minds relax on the ride to class. Bikes are also good for the environment, lacking the noxious gases inevitably emitted by cars.

Riding a bike is a two-for-one deal: You can commute while exercising as you pedal to class (Image via Inhabitat)

Most campuses require that students purchase a parking pass, but with a bike, students can dodge that added expense and park almost anywhere on campus without the hassle of finding a parking space. Just make sure to get a good bike lock to keep your bike secure.

Riding a bike around campus may not look as cool as driving a new Honda Civic, but it does the job of getting students to where they need to be and saves them lots of moolah in the process.

4. Water Filter

The college student’s water intake levels are essential for optimal body functioning, affecting the brain, skin, weight, everything. More than half of the students on a college campus are mildly dehydrated. Even slight dehydration can have serious effects on how one thinks and how their body looks. Water is essential for proper blood flow, carrying nutrients and oxygen to the cells. Additionally, water regulates body temperature, and maintains an effective metabolism while also aiding in the digestive process.

We joke about the wonders water intake has on acne flare ups and scars, but these clear-faced social media adolescents aren’t kidding. Hydration helps the face self-moisturize and regulates cell reproduction so that dead skin causing dark marks will eventually dissipate and make room for a soft and clear baby face.

Many colleges have recently invested in water filtration systems that connect to drinking fountains that are already distributed around campus, encouraging students to purchase reusable water bottles so that, eventually, the popularity of drinking from plastic water bottles (these guys are toxic AF) will dwindle.

Kudos to college administrators for taking this initiative. I still encourage any college student to invest in a water filter because stores are expecting an elevated interest in these filters during August and September; therefore, the likelihood of this essential kitchenware being sold at discounted prices is probable. This is the sort of purchase that will pay you back for years following, as it’ll save money on disposable water bottles and save college students (and the environment) from the toxicity of their plastic.

Hopefully this list will be of use to some college student that has otherwise fooled themselves into thinking they’ve got it altogether. Truth is, none of us do. With all of these purchases, college students are not only preparing themselves for non-academic success while undergrads, but also after graduation, since these are all eternally useful products. Among the thoughts regarding what you’ll wear on the first day and setting reminders to actually eat throughout the day, don’t forget about the small stuff like your transportation to class and ways to regulate stress levels. Oh, and perhaps a can opener.

Sierra Emilaire, Southern Adventist University

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Sierra Emilaire

Southern Adventist University
English Professional Writing

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