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Verily, the College Kid’s Survival Checklist has become increasingly more gadget-laden today than the “funky ice cube trays” and “XL-Twin Sheet Sets” from days past. Wiring yourself to the gills used to be reserved for a particular type of undergrad—the type who hung out in robotics labs, mostly, the “dual-desktop-monitor” type—but now every student is expected to be technologically equipped.
The catch is not blowing your entire financial aid package at the campus computer store (so you have some left over to blow on pizza) and picking up just the essentials—and no, no matter what other Gadget Listicles on Blogs try to tell you, a mini espresso machine is not among the essentials. In fact, it’s not even legal to have in your dorm, probably! Try these no-nonsense gadgets instead.
1. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
In the real world, these items are reserved specifically for Frequent Business Travelers, but in campusland, where you’ll find there is just so much noise that you don’t need or want to hear, they’re acceptable—even vital. You will spend a lot of time curating your daily playlists on your iPod (“Tuesday Biolab Bluegrass/Blues”). You will spend a lot of time recording lectures so you don’t miss a thing. You will spend a LOT of time listening to the Harry Potter soundtrack when you’re having silent pre-midterm freakouts in the library. Probably you should be able to do all that without being distracted. And remember: You have to share a room with another human, and that human sometimes might have visitors while you’re trying to sleep. OK!
2. Cloud-based storage
It’s time you got a piece of the cloud, kid, because professors are JUST JADED ENOUGH in the advent of The Tablet Being Used In Class All The Time and They Cannot Stop It to no longer accept the excuse that, like, your “computer crashed.” In fact, they WANT your computer to crash so you learn a lesson about technological over-dependency! With cloud-based storage, you pay a monthly fee and save all your papers, slideshows and research up there (the sky is actually made of Internet), and you’ll never lose anything again. I mean the cloud might get lost or something, but that would be totally not your fault. And they could never blame you for that, Card Carrying Cloud Member.
3. A tablet
I know! They’re kinda expensive and you wanted to keep that cool “I still don’t have a tablet!” thing going for you, but you need a tablet sort of. Tablets are great because they do the jobs of smart phones, laptops and e-readers all in one, meaning you’ve got less stuff to keep track of, less to pay for and less to take up precious space in your dorm room/backpack/cute tote. You’ll also save money on textbooks by being able to download them rather than buying them, which, GREEN! Not to mention, the 17 million other things a tablet can do.
4. A Cool New Powerstrip or Seven
Did you know the #1 cause of homesickness in college freshmen occurs when they suddenly need an extension cord VERY BADLY and they realize that for the first time in their lives, their dad isn’t hanging out downstairs in the garage at that very moment next to a box of 6500 extension cords? Don’t let this happen to you—bring a bunch of power strips to college, so you can keep all your gadgets actually running. There are really cool new options, too, like ones that look like squids and ones that look like UFOs, so you’ll never be bored again! When it comes to power strips, that is!
5. A Zip Drive
A Jump Drive. A Stick Drive. A little information-holding guy!! This may be TOTALLY DUH to some of you but do you know I did not own one of these LITERALLY ALMOST $0 gadgets till my senior year of college, during which I had to buy one on the fly during a major design project, and then when I brought it to a printer so he could print my project he KEPT IT? Yeah! Which really hurt! If you buy one or two of these early on in your college career, you’ll be sharing documents, music and presentations in a flash, and it won’t be so life-altering when someone at a printshop accidentally forgets to give it back to you four years later. See also: The cloud.
6. A Webcam
Think you won’t miss your mom and dad? YOU WILL! Think you won’t feel moved to film at least one installment of a first-person web-series about your totally unique college career? YOU WILL! Think you won’t engage in at least one long-distance relationship with someone from your hometown who decided to go to a different college than you did? YOU WILL! Webcams make all of these Classic Freshman Frustrations much more bearable, plus you can use them to Skype-meet with classmates for projects, and see what your outfit looks like IN MOTION before you leave your room (mirrors are over).
7. A Smart Pen
Haha, just kidding! You do not now, nor will you ever, actually need a Smart Pen! In no way! Will a Smart Pen! Ever be considered a necessity! Do not buy a Smart Pen!
Lauren Rodrigue lives in New York City, New York.
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