By now, you’ve probably checked out Northwestern’s recommended packing list. But just because Wildcat Welcome vaguely “recommends” something, should you pack it for freshman year? Alanis Morissette “recommends” walking around naked in your living room, and that’s rarely a good idea. We ran the non-obvious stuff by more than 400 NU students, and here’s what they had to say. And just because we love you, we suggested our favorite specific items that NU students gave the thumb’s up to. Bonus: What about the obvious recommended/banned items? Check out what one writer had to say about fish nets, toothbrushes and… explosives.
Editors’ Pick Target Insider’s Pick Hallie’s “Fresh Frosh” Pick
Shower sandals:Yes. Nobody likes athlete’s foot, which is why everyone loves shower shoes: with 92 percent of NU students saying shower sandals were a must-pack item, you’d better not leave home without them. Only 4 percent recommended waiting to buy them in Evanston, while another 4 percent said not to bother with shower shoes at all (beware this last 4 percent).
Old Navy Shower Sandals, $3.50 (Women’s and Men’s). If you care about cleanliness at all — and if you end up in Bobb-McCulloch, you might not — you’ll need to replace your shower shoes several times a year. But if you get them in a dark color (we suggest black), you won’t have to witness their evolution from stylish beachwear to radioactive health hazard. Make sure the strap is plastic, not nylon: this way, it’ll be easier to slip out of when wet and will be easier to wash.
Iron.No. Northwestern may recommend it, but 79 percent of students said you won’t need an iron. Just 11 percent said to pack one, while another 11 percent said to pick one up in town. On the few occasions when your clothes can’t be wrinkled (internship interviews, sorority rush), borrow one from the overpacked sucker down the hall.
Alarm clock.Yes. By October, you’ll be setting an alarm to wake up for even your 2 p.m. classes. That’s a guarantee: 83 percent of students pack an alarm clock, 8 percent buy one in Evanston, and 9 percent don’t bother with one at all — they either have a good alarm function on their phone, or a plethora of excuses for sleeping through class.
Sony ICF-C318 Automatic Time Set Clock Radio, $14.95. In retrospect, taking Arabic freshman year was a really silly thing to do, and not because there are upward of 27 ways to say “good evening.” The class was at 9 a.m. Every day. This little alarm clock lets you set two alarms: one for the morning, and one for your afternoon nap.
USB Flash Drive.Yes. Great for transferring music, photos and papers that you, uh, swear you’ll get around to writing, USB Flash Drives are a must-pack among NU students: 81 percent say to pack them for freshman year. Eleven percent said “don’t bother,” while 9 percent said “buy it in Evanston.”
SanDisk 8 GB Cruzer Micro USB 2.0 Drive, $27.10. If you buy a USB flash drive with a cap, you will soon have a USB flash drive without a cap. This one slides in and out, is easy to attach to a keychain and, at eight gigs, makes it easy to transport any document or music files. Also, the thumb-thing is really fun to fiddle with when you’re bored in class.
Desk lamp.Probably. Kristin Klingbeil, 24, is a manager at the Evanston Target. “If you’re sharing a room, and your roommate wants to go to bed at 10 p.m. and turns off the overhead lighting, but you have a major exam the next day, you’re going to need something,” she said. Good point, and perhaps why 52 percent of NU students said to pack a desk lamp. A respectable 30 percent said not to bother, while 18 percent said to buy one in Evanston.
+ Target Desk Organizer Lamp, $12.99. “It won’t wake up your roommate but still allows you to read,” Klingbeil said. Hallie was also a fan: “This has a considerably tricked out organizer at its base, which is bound to save desk space.”
Shower caddy.Yes. Who dropped the soap? Um, nobody, because 80 percent of NU students pack or ship a shower caddy to campus. Fifteen percent said to wait and buy one in Evanston, while the remaining 5 percent of NU students apparently know how to juggle.
Linens ‘n’ Things Basket Shower Tote, $9.99. In addition to drainage holes, these also have knobs on the bottom to keep it off of the shower floor. They’re also compartmentalized for all your individual stuff, and come in cool colors.
Laundry drying rack.No. Dry clothes are a lovely thing, but that’s what driers are for, according to NU students: 58 percent said you won’t need a laundry drying rack at school. The rest of students were split on towing one to school (22 percent) and buying one in Evanston (21 percent), but one thing’s for certain: when you get to school, you’ll notice water pipes hanging in your room. Never mind the stern directions to not hang anything from these pipes, as they’re exceptional for hanging your clothes to dry.
First-aid kit.Maybe. Six months of winter means a constant barrage of coughs, sniffles and other unpleasant sicknesses. Yet just 46 percent of NU students said to pack a first-aid kit (29 percent said you won’t need one, while 25 percent said to consider buying one in Evanston).
Rather than purchase an official, standard First-Aid Kit, make your own. Pack a small plastic container or a shoe box, then fill it with the over-the-counter medicines you use the most, and a few band-aids. You’ll be relieved to know exactly where to look when the dining hall’s meatloaf doesn’t quite agree with your stomach.
Dry-erase board.Yes. It’s like your Facebook wall, but in real life, kids. Eighty-eight percent of NU students said you’ll want one (60 percent said to pack it, and 28 percent said to buy one locally).
EXPO Magnetic Framed Dry-Erase Board, $9.99. Buying a non-magnetic dry erase board is a mistake: no magnet, no ability to pin class notes on your board, no way to display the cute “Great Writers” magnet you’ll get from your stepmom for Christmas. And with this model’s handy eraser, you won’t be hard-pressed to find a way to get that gross black marker smudge off your hands. Your jeans will thank you.
Fan.Definitely. Next to shower sandals, the fan is the most essential item for freshman year, according to NU students: just 5 percent said to do without one. Seventy percent said to stuff one in your suitcase, while 25 percent said to buy a fan in Evanston.
Sunpentown Tower Fan, $49.99. For cooling your entire room, Klingbeil recommended “bigger, stand-alone fans that are at least four or three feet tall. The desk fans aren’t going to do a lot for you.”
Lakewood 101 20-Inch 3-Speed Box Fan, $12.99. Fans are essential, but the floor space they can take up in your tiny room sucks. Be smarter and invest in this Lakewood box fan to stick in your window. Three speeds and five wings will keep you cool when you can’t adjust the heat in January, and keep you from passing out from heatstroke on Dillo Day.