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You did it!

You got through four years of high school and managed to escape those annoying childhood friends that you didn't even like that much. The days of independence are finally approaching!

But, sadly, independence means life in a cramped dorm room.

As you know from scanning through hundreds of college blogs and advice articles, preparing for the big move—and making your dorm room feel like a home away from home—isn't easy.

Fret not, frosh: We'll have a full packing list for you on the blog next week. But in the meantime, Spectrum is here to tell you what those guys at Bed Bath & Beyond can't.

Embrace the Freshman 15

Food, hands down, the most important element of your new home. Say goodbye to the days of having a full-sized fridge or countless snacks in a pantry—in college it's on you to supply the snacks, so plan accordingly.

Obviously there are a ton of Pinterest recommendations for perfect and healthy dorm snacks, but what you really need is tupperware to steal an ample amount of Ferris cookies and JJ's gummy bears (would recommend using for vodka gummies). On top of that, you should definitely get crazy at Trader Joe's on 72nd because the food in the vending machines in your dorm's basement is overpriced af (looking at you, $3 unpopped popcorn kernels). Here's a helpful guide from Spectrum on the best grocery stores in the neighborhood, in case your family members are looking to buy you "going away to college giftcards."

And there's a Keurig, which you'll absolutely need when it's 2 a.m. and you're riding the struggle bus of having to write your last progression in UWriting while simultaneously trying to finish up your Global Core reading. Bonus points if you buy one in Columbia Blue. (Pantone 292, remember that forever.)

Get comfy

Don't play games and think that you can get through the entire year without purchasing a mattress topper. The school provides you with a hard blue mattress that has been, ahem, tossed about by countless Columbia students before you. (For some dorm decor inspiration, do check out this feature in Spectator's magazine The Eye).

It's important to make your bed as comfortable as possible because it's really the only place to sit in your room (besides your desk chair, which will only be worth it if it's a rocking one).

Whether you plan on having plenty of "Netflix and Chill" sessions or just want a cozy wonderland to procrastinate reading the "Iliad" on, a nice bed is key.

Get ready to party

If you're coming to Columbia and expecting to go to insane tailgate parties and huge, luau-themed ragers, you might want to reconsider where you're spending the next four years.

BUT if you're down to go to sweaty-awkward fraternity parties in brownstone basements and imbibe $5 margs in plastic cups, then welcome to New York. The biggest advice for Cannon's (well it's technically called Tara Hill now, but that's a story for another time…) at 108th and Broadway: Bring a jacket that you don't care about. Why? Because you don't want to be one of the tons of people who post on the class page asking if anyone found the coat they misplaced at one of the bars between 110th and 115th. Don't be that guy.

It's also advised that you bring shoes that look even better with a splash of Natty Light.


This one seems self-explanatory, but hey, it's a debit card's world, and we're just living in it.

We're just looking out for you when we say that you don't want to end up starving without any cash while your friends down giant pizza slices at Koronet's or Broadway Milkshakes at Tom's at 2 in the morning. In addition, no need to worry about closing your tab at the end of the night when you go MoHi bar hopping.

Get down to business

Above all, you're here to learn. And you're going to need a few essentials.

Consider bringing a tent and taking the term "Butler Camper" to a whole new level. Once exams come around, finding a seat in a library is going to be difficult so setting up camp at a table in 209 will ensure that you'll always have a seat (but will not ensure an A, so fingers crossed the curve is in your favor).

But here's the big one: Wait until you finalize your class schedule before you buy the bulk of your school supplies. You might go crazy at Staples for a class you might drop on the first day of registration. And you don't need to purchase textbooks until your class schedule is 100 percent confirmed.

And here's another tip: You're going to need an iClicker for Frontiers of Science (we'll call it FroSci from here on out, and so should you), but I would also recommend getting literally anything that will keep you entertained while having to listen to 15 minutes of frogs having sex, which happened to me once in everyone's favorite Core science class. I'm not joking.

Upperclassmen, do you have dorm essentials you'd like to share with the first-years? Tell us in the comments!

Photo credits: Dorm room photos, file photos from Spectator's The Shaft. Koronet's slice: Ben Combee/Flickr/Creative Commons.

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