Worth the Splurge: College Essentials

Essential college items worth the splurge.

My friends Gabby and Hannah over at The Swirl Blog published THIS amazing post the other week, and I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh I need to do one of these, too!” Hannah included some amazing essential college items definitely worth the splurge, so I thought I’d add on to her selections.

My most popular post to date, Buy This, Not That: College Dorm Edition, came out around this time last year, and if you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest you do. I cover everything that those college guides tell you you should buy, but in reality you either don’t need them, or there are much better, cheaper alternatives out there!

This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

This year will be my 3rd year living in a residence hall so I like to think of myself as a kind of dorm life expert. I’ve seen what my residents have purchased and never used, I’ve seen what I find comes in super handy, and I know that spending a little extra $$$ on certain items will make your college dorm experience so much better!

Comfy (large) Blankets

Whether it’s curling up in your bed watching Netflix, playing Wii with your hall mates, or just trying to get some studying done at your desk, blankets are a MUST HAVE.

Now you can go the whole twin-xl route, but think about it for a minute.

You’re only going to be spending 9 months in a twin-xl bed. Why would you buy a blanket that’s only going to fit a twin-xl bed?

The best thing I ever did last year was buy a Queen-sized blanket. You’ll have plenty of room to cocoon yourself, your feet will never be stuck out in the cold, and you can take it with you when you’re no longer living the dorm life and no longer living in a twin-xl bed.

Never in my life have I heard someone complain about having a blanket that is “too big.” Do yourself a favor and get a Full or Queen sized blanket.

Essential college items worth the splurge. Essential college items worth the splurge. Essential college items worth the splurge.
via Target via Amazon  via Target

Desk Chair

This is something that I only invested in this past year because I said to my parents, “I’m sorry but I’m not going to spend another year sitting in a chair that is uncomfortable and about gives me a heart attack every time it rocks backwards.”

So, I spend $25 and I’ve yet to have a heart attack from thinking I’m going to tip over.

You’re going to be spending a lot of time studying. I mean this is college after all, and you’re there to get a degree. A wooden chair with minimal padding will not be the most comfortable thing in which you’re going to spend your days and nights sitting so save your back, your butt, and your sanity by buying a desk chair.

 Essential college items worth the splurge. Essential college items worth the splurge.  Essential college items worth the splurge.
 via Amazon  via Target via Amazon

If you’re thinking, “But Abigail, I live really far away from my school and there’s no way I can take this desk chair back home with me.” don’t stress. I have the one from Target, and near the start of school it usually goes on sale for $20. At the end of the year, USC does this thing where they collect all the furniture that students can’t take home with them and they’ll donate it to a local charity. If your school offers the same, then I’d donate the chair. In the grand scheme of life, what’s $20? You’re going to get a year of use out of it and then at the end of the year it’ll go to a good home!

RELATED: Ultimate College Packing Guide

External Hard Drive

Okay this one may not be for everyone, and I may be a little biased towards it because I am a blogger with 123825984 files and I’m a comp sci major and I geek out over computer things. But hear me out on this one.

A lot of people don’t back up their files. Heaven forbid the day comes where your computer dies for some reason and all those files are gone forever. Hello stress, sadness, and frustration.

Investing in an external hard drive will keep your computer cleaner, it’ll most likely run faster, and just think of all that extra storage you’re going to have.

via Amazon via Amazon  via Amazon


This one that Hannah covered in her post, but I also wanted to feature it as well.

A high-quality backpack will SAVE YOU. Please do not be that person who carries around all their stuff in a tiny tote bag. First off, how do you do that?? How do you have so little stuff that that’s all you carry? Does your shoulder not hurt?

You’re going to want something that’ll save your back, survive your long treks to and from class, and be large enough to hold everything you could possibly need for a library study session.

I can’t really speak for other backpack brands because all I’ve ever had is a North Face backpack. I got this one my sophomore year of high school and it’s still in great shape. I’ve had no problems with it, it’s held up super well, and it was 100% worth the investment.

via Amazon via Amazon via Amazon

RELATED: College School Supplies

Pillows. So many pillows.

I never used to be a huge fan of pillows. Like why on earth do you want to have all these pillows on your bed when you’re just going to have to take them off every night and put them back every morning?

Should I say, that was my mentality BEFORE I went to college. Then I learned how pillows can make your tiny space that much more cozy.

I’m a huge proponent of making the most of your dorm room. That means making it cozy and investing in pieces that you can take with you after your dorm days are over.

Sure those pillows with cute sayings like “slay all day” or “I need coffee” or stuff like that are adorable. But they’re trendy, and you know what happens with trends? The end, they go out of style, and then you just end up with dated pieces.

Invest in a few solid body pillows (yes these are godsend in college), some solid colors, and a few cute patterns. Spend your money wisely and you’ll be thanking yourself for years to come!

via Target via Target via Target

RELATED: Upgrade Your Space


Whether or not you’re a music listener, podcast listener, Netflix watcher, YouTube video, or enjoy any kind of online content, this one’s for you. It’s not really a ‘splurge’ but it’ll save you. I promise.

In college you’re most likely going to have a roommate. Your roommate isn’t going to want to hear your music, Netflix shows, YouTube videos, etc. so headphones are a must. Also, dorm life can be pretty loud sometimes. I mean you’re living in a building with thin walls and people on either side of you, above you, and below you. Trust me, there are going to be noises that you just do not want to hear.

Get yourself a pair of headphones to block out all that noise and respect the privacy of others who probably don’t want to hear your stuff either.

via Amazon via Amazon via Amazon



~abigail gray

  • Having good headphones is SUCH a real necessity. I can’t always handle the constant conversations and noise when I’m walking through campus.

    – Danielle | dragongirlblog.com

  • I definitely think that having a good desk chair and huge comfy blankets are SO SO important. Thanks for sharing this post!
    Skye – http://www.everythingbeyondmyskye.com

  • I didn’t even know Twin XL blankets were a thing. And I mean who wants a blanket that barely covers their body!? Also, I’ve been looking for an external hard drive and was actually going to text you about it. Lol so thanks!

  • My Sprinkle of Prep

    I seriously can not stress enough how important a hard drive is and I am glad you pointed out, I shoot tons of photos and basically keep my entire computer on hard drives, it makes the computer run so much faster. I do now backup my hard drive with a different hard drive because I once lost my entire hard drive and had to purchase a program to recover 85% of it back

  • Carlee Hebert

    I am practically a hoarder of large comfy blankets and pillows, but they came in handy in college! My roommates liked to keep the house really cold so I was often sleeping with two or more blankets! Plus is makes movie night with friends even more cozy! http://carleehebert.com/

  • Sarah

    Love this post!! As a college girl starting her second year, this is all so so so true! Buying a good quality backpack (I also have a North Face one) was absolutely the best decision I made. They’re made to withstand the weather so they can handle a bit of rain if I get caught outside.

  • mikslayla

    I second this post!!! The best buying decisions I’ve made in college have been a giant blanket, the more the merrier, and TONS of throw pillows!! There’s nothing like coming home after class to jump on your pillow-filled bed and curl up in your giant blanket 🙂

    Xoxo, Mikayla Jai