8 must-have items students need to take to university


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The Independent Online

Whether you’re starting university this September or returning for your second or final year, there are some things you won’t be able to get by without as a student, no matter what stage you’re at. Get your suitcase ready and put on your sweetest voice for a quick and hefty withdrawal from the bank of mum and dad if you have to for these eight essential items.

A laptop

It goes without saying really. Almost all disciplines require research and essay writing so at an absolute minimum, you could get by with a laptop with simple word processing and presentation-creating capabilities, but a decent processor for swift internet access would help. For subjects such as architecture or journalism, however, you may need specialist programmes such as SketchUp or InDesign, and so a big hard drive and decent RAM are also a must. Make sure you invest in good anti-virus and spyware protection and regularly back up your work for those nasty moments. Blaming a dead computer for your late essay submission doesn’t work anymore what with today’s seemingly abundant supply of online storage. Check out the Apple store for student-specific offers and discounts.

A versatile wardrobe

As we return to university in the middle of autumn when the air is fresh and the temperature is still relatively warm, we often forget to pack a range of clothing, more specifically a winter coat and, god forbid, a pair of thermals. Make sure you don’t get caught out and end up having to spend a bulk of your student loan on clothing that you may already have back home. Also remember to bring your old school uniform, a tutu and some face paints for Fresher’s Week. You’ll find out why soon enough.


You’re most likely ready – and probably dying – to fly the nest and accept the fact that you’ll no longer see your parents on a daily basis but there will undeniably come a time when you need to see those familiar faces for some comfort. You don’t have to make a shrine devoted to your friends and family but a few photos dotted around your room will remind you of those good times and special people when you’re at a loose end with assignments.

A planner

This could simply be the calendar app on your smartphone, the freebie diary that you usually get during Fresher’s Week or a good old traditional organiser from Paperchase. Either way, you need one. Lectures, society meetings, socials and interviews will soon fall on top of each other and you’ll find yourself lost unless you make a note of when and where they take place. Organisers help to avoid double-booking, encourage you into a routine, and provide a means to literally see when to fit in vital revision time.

mp3 player

Student or not, everyone needs an mp3 player. Music always makes things that much better be it the cold and wet bus journey to campus or the eerily quiet library that somehow distracts you more than it helps you to focus. It even somehow manages to make walking feel quicker. Just make sure your headphones are always plugged in. You don’t want to be the person that everyone hates for blasting their music at 2am in the morning or the one that thinks it looks cool to play their music out loud while walking to campus. It doesn’t.

Tablewear and a meal for (at least) one

Whether you’re moving into student halls or off-campus accommodation, you cannot guarantee what will be ready and waiting for you upon arrival. Some people prefer to risk it and see what is already provided so as to avoid a shared kitchen with five kettles but there’s no harm in bringing your own plate, bowl and singular set of cutlery for your first few days and then buy whatever else you need at a later date.

A cook book

You’ll soon get bored of jacket potatoes everyday so spice it up a bit (literally, if you like) and learn some new skills while you’re at it by investing in a cook book. It doesn’t have to be by a celebrity chef, it just has to give you enough inspiration to not make your taste buds dry up. There is a huge selection of student cook books on offer these days with detailed instructions for basic tasks from making a boiled egg to telling the difference between pasta cooked al dente and slop.

A 16-25 railcard

Some student bank accounts offer a free 16-25 student railcard when you sign up but if you don’t get one with yours, it is still wise to purchase one. The cost of a railcard (£30 for a year or £70 for three years) can be redeemed in just a few train journeys and then you can keep on saving after that. You can also use it get 1/3 off Plusbus tickets and a reduction on your daily oyster card fare. What’s more, the railcard also offers other benefits such as free subscriptions to apps such as the Gourmet Restaurant Society or discounted tickets to London attractions and even a whopping 20 per cent off Virgin Experience Days.