Extra-long twin sheets? Check. Shower shoes? Check. So you're headed to college in the fall and you've already bought just about everything on the official list for incoming students. But the university doesn't think of everything:
• Garment steamer: Your mother or grandmother may want you to take an iron and a table-top ironing board to college. A hand-held steamer to get rid of wrinkles in minutes might be better. Good Housekeeping notes steamers work best for getting wrinkles out of soft fabrics or difficult-to-iron items like jackets; if you really need sharp creases, like for a dress shirt, you're better off with an iron. (Another disadvantage: You can't make a grilled cheese sandwich like you can with an iron and a sheet of tin foil.) Find garment steamers for $30 and up on sites like Amazon and at retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond.
• Digital thermometer: Let's face it: None of your roommates is going to be able to do the "hand on the forehead" thing like Mom and tell you if you have a fever. Digital thermometer will tell you whether you need to go to Student Health Services. They're less than $10 at drug and grocery stores; while you're there, pick up some basic first-aid items like adhesive bandages and pain relievers to have on hand.
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Into each life some rain must fall. Usually, it's on days when you have to walk at least 100 yards from Point A to Point B. Outdoors. Take our advice and head over to eddiebauer.com for a Rippac Rain Jacket. Even though it's the priciest item on this list ($80 for men's styles; $80-$100 for women), it will last beyond graduation and will be one of the best travel items you'll ever own. The hooded jacket folds down into one of its own pockets, resulting in a small square that weighs only a few ounces. Then, just toss it in a purse, backpack or even a large pocket.
•Logitech keyboard for iPad:
Dragging a laptop around campus is, well, a drag. Turn your iPad into a super-light computing device with a Logitech wireless keyboard. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $69.99, but they've been advertised for $38 in the Amazon marketplace. Another bonus: You can leave your iPad plus keyboard in your carry-on for airline travel; no more putting a laptop in its own plastic bin for security scanning.
•A basic tool kit:
That Ikea bookcase might come with an Allen wrench, but you're going to need more than that one day. Everyone should have a hammer, flat-head screwdrivers and Phillips-head screwdrivers. For $7.99, you can get them all in one with the Great Neck 21002 Essentials All-In-One Nail Hammer and Screwdriver. Plus, it's GOLD — or at least, gold-colored. One Amazon reviewer even began his review by saying "By the golden hammer of Thor!" (Zero of three people found that helpful.)
•A heavy-duty bike basket:
Sure, you can toss stuff in a backpack and hop on your bike, but a basket is nice if you have a lot of books to cart around, or if you don't want your PB&J to turn into a pressed sandwich. The Pack 'N' Pedal Handlebar Basket by Thule mounts to front or rear and is big enough for two grocery bags. $59.95 at thule.com and other online retailers.
•The Everyday Writer by Andrea Lunsford:
Several high-school English teachers told us this book helped get them through college writing classes. Tabbed sections include research; language;, sentence style; grammar, punctuation and mechanics; documentation in MLA, APA, Chicago and CSE formats; and a guide to writing in various academic disciplines. Many colleges require this as a textbook, but if yours doesn't, consider buying it at a college or online bookstore. Listed retail price is $75, but you can always buy it used; Amazon currently lists pre-owned versions at $35.