Lessons Learned Freshman Year: The Ultimate Packing List

I’m going back to college in a couple of weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited! Looking back on my freshman year, I have been making lists of what I used in my dorm last year and what I will need to take or leave behind this time around. Therefore, I thought, why not share this information with the incoming freshies? If you’re attending school in the Northeast, are an education major or musician, or just a girl on a budget, this is the list for you.

the ultimate college packing list

Everything you will need with you can be broken down into these categories: Supplies & Books, Clothing, Decor & Bedding, Hobbies, Toiletries, and Adulting.

The inner part of something; the inside. -the interior has been much restored-. Synonyms- inside, inner part, inner area, depths, recesses, bowels, belly; More antonyms- exterior, outsid

1. Supplies & Books

  • Highlighters
  • Thin-tip multi-colored marker set (Education majors; these are expensive)
  • Post-it notes and bookmark tabs
  • Construction paper (Education majors)
  • Black pens
  • Folders
    • One folder for each class.
  • Composition notebooks
    • I recommend one composition notebook for each class. Not every course you take will require you to take notes, but you can still use it to write essay outlines and make study guides.
    • These type notebooks are best for lectures.
  • Spiral notebooks
    • I recommend these for mathematics, music theory, solfege, and other lab-based courses where you might have to turn in your written work.
  • Crayons (Education majors)
  • Agenda/planner
    • The Day Designer is king.
  • Dry erase board/marker
    • I used this to write cute little messages for my roommate (e.g. “Going to Kent State for the weekend- see you Sunday!”) or to sit on top of the washer in the laundry room (“Waiting for a dryer- please do not remove my clothes!”).
  • Textbooks
    • There isn’t really a way to forget this. I added this to the list just so I could have an excuse to say that you should shop at Half Price Books. My tonal harmony textbook (which will last me two years) would normally cost over a hundred dollars. I got it for $12.
  • Calculator
    • I originally packed a TI-84 and didn’t need it. My college algebra class (that I tested out of in a week and a half) didn’t allow it, and my elementary school class didn’t need it. A normal calculator will likely suffice, unless you are a math major.
  • Tape
    • Masking tape
    • Clear tape
  • Laptop
    • ASUS is the devil! Cheap, but the devil!
  • Books
    • I tried to pack non-fiction and classics, with a few exceptions. And yes, I did actually have time to read. I believe I read five or six books last year.
      • Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 24-26
      • Pride and Prejudice
      • The Secret Garden
      • The Life and Works of Paul Laurence Dunbar
      • Morality and Contemporary Warfare
      • Anthem (Ayn Rand)
      • The Last Days of the Romanovs (Helen Rappaport)
      • The Romanov Sisters (Helen Rappaport)
      • Julius Caesar
      • Iris Has Free Time (Iris Smyles)
      • Of Mice and MenĀ 
        • The only classic book that had me in my feels at the end. Like why did Steinbeck think that was… okay?
      • The Case for Christ (Lee Strobel)
      • I Am Malala
        • I read this book whenever I don’t feel like studying, and it motivates me again.
      • My Bibles
        • English Standard Version
        • New International Version
  • Devotionals
  • Journal
  • Headphones
  • Choir folder (Vocal musicians)
  • Pencils
    • Even if you hate pencils, you will inevitably have to take a scantron test.


2. Clothes (what I personally packed)

  • Pajamas
    • 2 onesies
    • A few T-shirts
    • 2 pairs of soft pajama pants
  • Pants
    • 3 pairs blue jeans
    • 1 pair colored jeans (pink)
    • 3 pairs athletic shorts
    • 2 pairs black Spandex shorts
  • Undergarments
    • 7 push-up bras (I’m a B; don’t judge)
    • 2 T-shirt bras
    • 2 strapless bras
    • 1 backless bra
      • Didn’t need it.
    • 2 thongs (is this TMI? Probably)
    • Seamless underwear
    • Yoga panties
    • Period panties
    • Black tights
    • Brown tights
  • Shirts
    • Tank tops
    • Blazer (for presentations and field experiences)
    • Sheer shirts
    • Sweaters
    • Blouses
    • Graphic tees
  • Skirts
    • 2 maxi skirts
    • 1 pencil skirt (for presentations and field experiences)
    • 4 church-y skirts
  • Dresses
    • At least 10 sundresses… I own more dresses than all of my other clothes combined
    • 3 maxi dresses
    • Black dress
      • Floor-length for vocalists and cellists
      • Any length for instrumentalists
    • A few homecoming-style dresses, in case of attending any parties
  • Socks
    • Athletic
    • Fuzzy
  • Shoes
    • Black heels (Vocalists)
    • 2 pairs flats
    • 1 pair tennis shoes
    • 1 pair rain boots
    • 1 pair fashion boots
    • 2 pairs fake Uggs (hear me out: at 8 a.m. on a January Cleveland morning, these are like heaven)
  • Scarves
  • Belts
  • 2 coats
  • 2 hoodies
  • Jewelry


3. Decor and Bedding, a.k.a. the fun part.

  • Pictures, paintings, and/or drawings
  • Command Strips
    • These take more elbow grease to remove than you would think, so use them with caution.
  • Victoria’s Secret bags
    • Everything looks cute in a Victoria’s Secret bag. Cotton balls, nail polish, tampons…
  • Christmas lights (I’m basic, I know)
  • Magazines
    • I made a collage on my desk.
  • Washi tape
  • Shoe organizer
  • Footlocker
  • Rug
  • Long mirror
  • 2 sets of sheets
  • Comforter
  • Sleeping pillows
  • 1 sham pillow
  • Decorative pillows
    • Sleeping on a loft bed, I would highly suggest not bringing these. They made my bed less comfortable, if anything.
  • Stuffed animals
    • I had a stuffed Appa, Naga (Korra’s polar bear dog), and Minnie Mouse, and I was not made fun of for it. I lived.
  • Tiny table (to hold up a small fridge)
  • Blankets/Snuggie


4. Hobbies

  • Your musical instrument of choice
    • I brought my acoustic guitar because once again, I’m basic
  • Sketch book
  • Art supplies
  • Sheet music and anthologies
    • Even if you’re not a music major, at my school, anyone is allowed to use the practice rooms. Sometimes I’ll spend the night in the Con playing the piano.
  • DVDs
    • I brought:
      • Avatar: The Last Airbender boxed sets of all three seasons
        • These were the DVDs I watched the most. Otherwise, I mostly watched Netflix.
      • The Legend of Korra: Book One
      • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
      • Big Hero 6
      • Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo
  • Crafting supplies
  • Fitness
    • Leotard (Gymnasts and Dancers)
    • Swimsuit
      • Even if you’re not on the swim team, check the pool hours for open swim.
    • Water bottle
    • Muscle braces
    • Earphones
    • Sweatpants
    • Wipes
    • Towel
    • Gym bag


5. Toiletries & Medications

  • Makeup (in order of how I put it on)
    • Concealer (a few shades lighter than my actual skin tone. I use white people concealer and I’m not afraid to admit it)
    • Brow liner
    • Foundation
    • Eye liner
    • Eye shadow
    • Highlighter
    • Powder
    • Blush
    • Setting spray
    • Mascara
    • Lip balm (you really should be using this at night but okay)
    • Lip liner
    • Lipstick
    • Lip gloss
  • Face wash/scrub
  • Toner
  • Moisturizer/lotions
  • Nail polish
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Curl cream, oils, whatever you put in your hair…
  • Hair ties
  • Shower caps
  • Bows, headbands, bandanas
  • Razor
  • Nair
    • You may think I’m crazy for this, but I use it on my eyebrows.
  • Nail clippers
  • Hair cutting scissors
    • Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use normal scissors to trim your hair. Hello, split ends.
  • Cotton balls/Q-tips
    • You’re really not supposed to use Q-tips to clean your ears. I have temporarily lost hearing so many times because of this… and yet… I keep using them…
  • Shower gel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Flat/curling iron
    • I didn’t even bother packing this because I don’t use heat on my hair.
  • Blow dryer
    • Another thing I didn’t actually pack, but I figure some people might want to.
  • Sponge/loofah
  • Robe
    • Honestly, it was easier to walk back to my dorm wrapped in a towel. I was never there when fire drills happened, so I might have just gotten lucky. But yeah, if you’re not self-conscious about your body, you really don’t need a robe. Especially if you actually have your own bathroom.
  • Towel
  • Combs, picks, brushes…
  • Tweezers, whatever you use for hair removal…
  • Spray bottles
  • Deodorant
  • Pantie liners
  • Pads
  • Tampons
  • Medications
    • Nasal decongestant
    • Vitamins
    • Tums/Pepto
    • Acne cream
    • Naproxen/Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen
    • Excedrin
    • Insulin/meds that can save your life
  • Tissues
  • Perfume
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Shower caddy


6. Adulting (a.k.a. the not as fun part)

  • Driver license
    • Even if you don’t bring your car, you still kinda need it…
  • Military ID (if applicable)
    • Where student discounts fail, military discounts save the day.
  • Vehicle registration
    • Remember to have this renewed by the birthday of whoever legally owns your car.
  • Social security card
    • An FYE classmate of mine had their parents mail their card to them because they weren’t planning on getting a job on campus. However, being a music major, they were required to provide their financial information so they could play for paid gigs. Luckily, I got my work-study job details handled at orientation, but this student wasn’t so lucky. Their identity wasn’t stolen, though, so it ended up okay, I guess. But yeah. Don’t mail your SS card.
  • Health insurance card
    • I ended up in the ER with chest pain, and this came in handy.
  • Laundry detergent
  • Hamper
  • Laundry basket
  • Car maintenance
    • Get your oil changed
    • Get your battery checked
    • Get your tires pumped
  • Parking pass
  • Fan and/or air conditioning unit
    • In my dorm last year, we had no A/C. I have allergies, so I applied to have a unit installed. Naturally, the university said my allergies weren’t “real” allergies and denied my request. How did that go for me? Well, I did actually get sick during week of welcome. And I was miserable. And hot.
  • Proof of military benefits (GI Bill, Chapter 35, etc.)
  • Food and cooking supplies
    • Apples (they like, never go bad or attract fruit flies)
    • Plastic forks/spoons/knives
    • Napkins
    • Straws
    • Juice/soda
      • Drinks in the dining hall are unnecessarily expensive, so bring a few cold ones to crack open with the boys. And I’m talking about soda.
    • Paper plates
      • My dorm last year didn’t have a kitchen (Baldwin Wallace students, just don’t live in Constitution, okay?), and I was not about to wash my dishes in the communal bathroom sink.
    • Peanut butter
      • Make sure your roommate isn’t allergic.
    • Chocolate
    • Candy
    • Pickles
    • Garlic butter, Chick-Fil-A sauce, ketchup, BBQ, etc.
    • Salt and pepper
    • Soul food seasoning, Lawry’s, Creole, etc.
    • Mug/thermos
  • Alarm clock
    • There were multiple times that my phone’s alarm didn’t go off and I paid the price for it.
  • Tax stuff…
    • I would say more if I knew anything about taxes, but I don’t, so…
  • Retail membership cards
  • Cash
    • Digital money can’t buy everything. I try to keep at least $30 cash on me at all times, especially since parking in Cleveland is expensive, and sometimes, you can only pay in cash.

…And that concludes this (very long) list! Do you think I missed anything? Tell me what YOU packed for college in the comments!


Lessons Learned Freshman Year: The Power of Friendship

We’ve all said it about our closest high school friends at some point: “we’re going to be friends forever.”

However, forever is a very long time, and upon graduation, you have to decide which friendships are worth keeping for that long.

So, how do you determine which friendships are worth it? And how do you make sure they last?

skills you should know

1. Make a list prior to graduation or before freshman year of who is on the chopping block.

During the February of my senior year, I had just about had enough with some of the people in my high school. Not that I’m proud of this personality trait, but I keep receipts. On everything. Like, there are some people who I am still mildly mad at over things that happened in elementary school. So, by the end of high school, you can imagine that after five years of knowing these people, I was done with at least half of them.

Luckily, I am still friends with the vast majority of my friend group. However, I will admit that some people who were technically in my group began to get on my nerves for various reasons, and I, being extremely bitter and petty, actually made a list of people I planned on cutting off after graduation. I ended up changing my mind about some of the people on the list, but it still ended up helping me in the long run.

It helped me find out what I value most in a friendship, and how much I am willing to put up with. And if I didn’t notice changes in behavior soon, then I would know that it was time for the relationship to meet its end.

Also, when making the list, be sure to include your reasons for placing the individual on the list. And store it in a safe place, like a journal (for the love of all things good, do NOT use any sort of digital technology).

2. Make a list of acquaintances you don’t want to break contact with.

I can name a lot of people in my graduating class who I wasn’t extremely close with, and perhaps only talked to them because I was always in near proximity to them, but I still genuinely enjoyed their company. I had a friend (if she’s reading this, she knows who she is) who I sat with in my senior year psychology/sociology period. Even though we didn’t hang in the same circles and rarely saw each other outside of school, we often messaged each other Pinterest ideas that we thought the other person would enjoy, tagged each other in Facebook articles, and both loved cake decorating and baking.

I genuinely liked her, but we don’t talk anymore. I haven’t seen her since her graduation party. However, I plan on writing her a letter just to say that I haven’t forgotten her. Same with quite a few of my acquaintances whom I haven’t really been able to see, and quite possibly might not see again. They may not have been my best friend, but they still played a great role in my life, and I want them to know they’re being thought of.

3. Make an effort to meet your closer friends whenever you’re/they’re in town.

Best friends don’t just break apart without a bad falling out or lack of effort. It is possible that your friendship might not be as tight as it once was, but you should still try to maintain it at the very least. And what do you know? You might pick up right where you left off. I have a few friends whom I can go months, or even full calendar years, without seeing or talking to them, and we go right back to the way things were.

Just make an effort to show them that you’re still willing to put in the effort to maintain the relationship. More likely than not, they’ll be thrilled to see you again!

4. Break things off with old friends gently.

Honestly, if some “friends” are placed on the chopping block, you don’t even need to tell them. Unless they’ve really crossed some lines. Then by all means, my petty self is rooting for you.

But I mean, if they really aren’t that bad of a person, but you just don’t vibe with them anymore, then just let it fizzle out. I had some friends that gradually began to get on my nerves over time (not really listening to me, bossing me around, speaking to me like a child, giving backhanded compliments, etc.), but like, I still kinda care about them. I wouldn’t jump in front of a train for them, but I’d say hi to them on the street.

Honestly, I’d just say to ghost them. If they don’t try to reach out to you, then they probably don’t want to continue the friendship, either.

5. Try to make new friends at your job or at your college.

Work is that much more fun when you have a work bestie. At my work study job, I absolutely loved my co-workers and my supervisor. Like, I would invite them to my wedding. Assuming I ever get married. I could just talk about life with them, ya feel?

I have a few close friends at BW as well. I have exactly one friend at Cleveland State (and ding ding ding, he’s a guy from work, so he doesn’t technically count), but I’ll work on that… once I get there. But at BW, my closest friends are Early Childhood Education majors. Honestly, education majors are the best and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. In terms of personality, at least. Yes, even better than music.

Anyway. Try to make new friends, and don’t just stick to those in your major. Make friends who are STEM majors. Make friends who are *groans and rolls eyes* theatre majors. Make friends who are art majors. When you have a diverse potpourri of friends, you will learn so much more.

Furthermore, it is important to make new friends as an adult, while maintaining your childhood ones as well. Maintain your childhood friendships, because those are the people who really shaped you into who you are today. It is much harder to make new friends once you enter the adult world, as schedules get crazier and you’re no longer forced to be around people 24/7. Unless you work in a desk job. Then um. You might be forced to see people 40 hours a week.

But my point is, it will never be as easy to make friends as an adult as it was as a kid. So treasure the friendships you have, and try not to let them fade.

On that same note, know that you will not always have your friends from high school, and not everyone is meant to be in your life forever. So always be open to new individuals.

Lessons Learned Freshman Year: School Choice

Since writing the first post in the Conservatory Rejection Letters series approximately two weeks ago, something good has happened to me! I was accepted into Cleveland State University to study Pre-Music. From there, I will work closely with the University faculty in order to begin my major, whichever I may choose. I am actually thinking about triple majoring (of course, my mom thinks that is a bad idea) in Education, Performance, and Therapy. If my BW music credits don’t transfer correctly (the Pacific Ocean will freeze over before I re-take Intro to Music Therapy), then I’ll just do Music Education/Performance and go back to BW for Post-Bac.

I’m really excited, and not even in an I-guess-I’ll-learn-to-be-happy-here-because-I-have-no-choice kind of way. I actually think I’ll be more happy at CSU than at BW, if I’m being honest.

06.When I first started applying to college (almost two years ago!), I had very specific criteria: big school, in or near the city, DI athletics (preferably with a gymnastics club or easy-to-make cheer team, but I’ve accepted that my athletic days are over and instead will look for an adult gym class), top-notch journalism and music departments (because I originally wanted to double major in Journalism and Voice), and not necessarily a party school (but, you know, a couple places to get a little turnt… or lit… whatever the kids are saying these days).

At that time, my dream school was Northwestern University. It was actually my dream school all throughout high school, tbh, but that’s not important because long story short, I wasted over a hundred dollars on that school. $75 just to apply. And then an additional whatever-amount-of-money on retaking the ACT. And then still got rejected. Shockingly, I wasn’t even upset about being rejected by my dream school; I was just bitter that I slaved at my job just to get rejected.

Anyway. So, you already know that I ended up picking Baldwin Wallace. The funny thing is, BW didn’t actually meet most of my criteria. It is a very small school (about 4,000 students), it is definitely not in the city (but it is in close proximity to Cleveland), we’re a DIII school (which didn’t really affect me, so I didn’t care), no Journalism major (but obviously a very top-notch music program… which I also wasted $75 trying to get into. I need to stop spending $75 on things), but thankfully not a party school (with a couple places to get turnt).

I liked Baldwin; I really did. I should actually stop using past tense because I gotta go back in the fall. But looking back, I don’t think I was very happy there. I’m lucky that I had a car to go to Parma, North Royalton, Strongsville, and Cleveland every once in a while, because I would have felt so isolated if I had no means of leaving campus. It was just too small for me; if it was warm out, I could visit the parks or go hiking, and that was always quite refreshing. However, there weren’t a lot of places to eat besides the dining hall (well, that a college student could afford). And mostly, I didn’t really have anything to do.

Now, I’ll be honest– I brought some of this on myself. I didn’t join any clubs. But then again, I wasn’t really interested in any of them. I mean, I was interested in gospel choir, but for some reason I didn’t do it. I was interested in diving team, but I can’t really swim all that well, so… I’m a little under-qualified. So at the end of the day, the only thing I got involved in was choir, which is a class. I attended a Cleveland Student Music Therapists club meeting second semester, but I wasn’t really an MT major, so there wasn’t much I could contribute.

Basically, due to my lack of involvement on campus, I had a very limited pool of friends. I didn’t really belong in the music department (there is a certain breed of Con kid. First, you have to actually be one; second, most are extroverts). At the same time, I didn’t feel like I belonged in the liberal arts college. I eventually made a few friends who had similar interests, but it took almost the entire year before that.

The second semester was definitely the best. I finally found something to do on the weekends (due to being required to attend 12 concerts and recitals). I actually started to really like my college. However, after my lackluster audition, it became apparent that I could settle for a degree I didn’t want, or try again somewhere new. Because while I am sad that I will have to leave BW, I settled for more than just a non-music major. I settled for something safe.

I settled for a school my parents wanted me to go to (even though they made it clear they would support any decision I made, they really wanted me to pick BW). In fact, I didn’t really even visit any other schools, save for Wittenberg. When I visited BW, I wrote in my journal:

I really liked the faculty and the Conservatory, but it wasn’t a love-at-first-sight type deal. Will I ever experience that? Either way, it’s likely that I’ll commit to BW. We’ll see what happens, though.

I actually ran out of time deciding where to go for college. I literally committed on April 30th. Now, I was pretty sure I’d pick the school pretty much right after I visited. But I wonder how I would have felt if I’d been to Cleveland State.

I didn’t even bother applying because CSU didn’t have a Journalism major (and I had no idea they had a Music Therapy program). But I’m so glad I’ll be there in the Spring.

I’m not settling– I get to study what I love there, and they actually want me for it! It’s located in downtown Cleveland, all of the dormitories are air-conditioned and apartment-style (BW has some dorms like that– incoming freshmen, request Davidson Commons… can’t stress that enough), and it’s literally right next to Playhouse Square. I can keep my job in Parma. Plus, on a more sentimental note, I can always visit Baldwin Wallace if I want to.

Baldwin Wallace was not the right school for me, but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss it. Though few, I do have friends there. I’ll miss seeing them in class. I’ll miss attending jazztet concerts. I won’t miss all-nighters in MACS, but I will miss the vending machines in there. I’ll miss the nice ladies working at Lang. I’ll miss the proximity to Coe Lake. Luckily, I won’t have to miss Cru (they have it at CSU). I’ll miss studying in Ritter. I’ll miss studying in the BMAC student lounge.

However, I know that I will be happier at Cleveland State. Not only will my personal college experience be greater, but I will graduate with the credentials to succeed in a field I truly enjoy. Besides, like I said, I’m going to end up doing Post-Bac or grad school at BW anyway, so it’s not a goodbye forever.

So, what is the moral of the story?

Apply to a college you love. Don’t worry if it doesn’t have a specific major. Don’t worry about what your family will think. Don’t settle for a school that doesn’t meet your personal criteria, because you likely won’t be happy there.

Know what you want out of a college, and don’t settle for anything less.


DISCLAIMER: It should be noted that I have no beef with Baldwin Wallace University or its faculty. It is a wonderful college that I do not regret attending. Now that I’m mid-yeet, it’s easier to remember the less-than-ideal details about the school. However, there are plenty of good things about it. In fact, if you ever find yourself in Berea, Ohio, give it a visit.