Graduation cap sitting on a book, mohu logo, Back to School Technology Essentials

Back to School Technology Essentials

No, you really don’t need to bring everything in your closet, living room, bathroom and kitchen when you go to college – it just seems like it. For first-time college students bound for campus here’s a simple guide to back to school technology essentials which will be helpful to you when making the transition from home to the university.

Sleep, Study and Socialize

A dorm room is your home away from home. It’s where you’ll sleep, study and socialize for at least nine months of the year. So when considering what you consider must-have college items, focus on items that will be helpful to you when doing those three things.

Also think about cutting costs by going in together with your roommate on big items like a futon or TV to save money and build a cohesive, communal living space together.

Be aware that universities publish a list of items that are provided in their dorm rooms. These things will generally include large items such as a bed, desk, dresser and sometimes include smaller items like bulletin boards and trash baskets. Some universities also provide options to rent items like in-room refrigerators and loft bed kits.

Check your college’s website for  Housing or Residential Life information. Lists of prohibited items will be found there in addition to other useful information. Remember, there’s no sense packing and toting anything that you can’t use.

If you’re moving across country to go to college, consider purchasing large and or heavy items at a store near your campus after you arrive.

Creative Comfort and Storage

For relaxation and zen-like concentration, focus on decorating your space with colors, patterns, themes and textures that you find make you happy. You’ll definitely want to get some earplugs, blackout shades and noise canceling earphones for sleep in addition to cozy bedding. Stand alone shelving, wall art, throw pillows, storage furniture, blankets and lighting will be important to add a homey ambiance to an otherwise sterile space.

Some items I recommend…

Himalayan Salt Lamp –  Quite possibly the best natural air cleaner and lighting source on the planet. Gives off a warm, amber light that is soothing to frayed psyches. You can also use battery operated candles and mini string lights to make your space more inviting.

Latex Wall Art – It can be a saying you find empowering or your favorite full-sized superhero. Easy to apply and remove, this is an inexpensive, yet highly personal decorative item that  really makes your room your own without sticky goo!

Folding Storage Ottoman –  Adds seating for friends and much needed storage. These inexpensive cubes are sturdy and very useful! Also consider fabric or wicker storage bins of various sizes which can go under your bed, in your closet or on shelving.

Reversible Bedding –  Switch up the room’s  look or hide pizza dribbles from your friends with bedding that gives you options.

Budget-Friendly Entertainment

Definitely consider the amount of time you’ll be in your room and what you really expect to be doing there when gathering up entertainment related stuff for your space. Since wireless internet is widely available to students in the dorms and elsewhere on campus, streaming media and free over air TV can give you cheap, yet feature-rich entertainment on multiple devices. Non-electronic items like cards and board games are also great things to bring with you.

Inexpensive, yet functional favorites…

Mohu Leaf 50 HDTV Antenna – It’s easy to setup and use to dial in free broadcast TV in your area, often in full HD! Mohu HDTV antennas are perfect for students who still want to view their favorite network shows in HD, as well as keeping up with local and national news, and major sporting events like the Super Bowl.

Mohu Channels – A simple device that provides an on screen programming guide that integrates over air TV, websites and apps like Hulu and Netflix. Has a TV tuner inside it so you can connect your Mohu antenna to it, and then connect Channels to a PC monitor via HDMI to view both TV and streaming media entertainment.

HDTV – Prices continue to plummet on HDTVs with the best deals being found in the 32”-42” size range. Look for HDTVs which have at least one USB port and two HDMI ports to enable you to add things like a gaming system or Blu-ray player.

Amazon Fire TV Stick – Probably the best portable streaming device on the market in terms of content and ease of use. You can get Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, Sling TV, Crackle and lots of other free and subscription apps, as well as games via the Fire TV Stick. An optional wireless game controller makes this a cheap gaming system too!

Or… you can take it up a notch like this guy did.

Productivity and Organization

The reason you are going to college is not to hang out in your room and play Xbox. (Really, it’s not.) The goal is to study hard, get good grades and land a job to pay off those loans. To eventually graduate and accomplish that job-thing, you’ll need the ability to prioritize your time, good study habits and the right tools to be productive.

To that end a solid start includes a …

Battery Backup – So much of our lives are digital now, it’s a good idea to backup your important files to three sources; on the cloud (19 Free Cloud Storage Options…), on a USB flash drive and on an external hard drive – just in case. Connecting your main PC and an external drive to a battery backup should be your first line of defense against data loss.  It’s an inexpensive way to preserve your peace of mind and your data.

Chromebook –  If you haven’t a need for a wired internet connection and don’t need to install special software for your classes, a Chromebook is an inexpensive way to maximize use of apps available in the Google-sphere. Available in several screen sizes, you can get one to take notes in class and leave your more expensive PC or Mac in your dorm room.

Wireless Printer – Easily print from your PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone with a wireless printer and free apps for iOS and Android.  While there are printing services on campus, you’ll definitely save money having your own printer and buying remanufactured inkjet cartridges as replacements.

No-Contract Smartphone – Choose one that provides solid service at home and at school, and consider WiFi only data plans to save money. You can use your smartphone as an alarm clock, and sync the calendar with Google calendar which can be accessed by multiple devices. I’ve been really happy with Virgin Mobile service, but Boost and Straight Talk are other quality no-contract options with top brand phones from Samsung, LG and Apple.

Andrea Polk hails from Oregon and is a wife, mother, writer, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, and more. She’s also the author of the Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV and the Simple Guide to Sling TV as well as the avid deal-seeker behind, where she scours the web for the best online deals.