University of Oklahoma resident assistant Beth Anne Underwood holds up some of her essential items in her room at Couch Tower. (Photo by Steve Sisney/The Oklahoman)
As many of you know, I’m occasionally called upon to step away briefly from the entertainment brief and contribute stories from other areas to The Oklahoman’s special sections and projects. This story is from today’s Collegebound special section for next year’s college freshmen. I’m posting it here in the hopes some of you might find it useful or interesting.
Will it stay or will it go?
College freshmen graduate from high school belongings
Once they’ve picked the right school, selected their class schedules and agonized over a major, college freshman have another decision-making process to navigate: what to take along and what to leave behind when moving into their new home-away-from-home.
“I brought way too much stuff to the dorms. … I ended up taking like two big tubs back home,” recalled Stephanie Bidelspach, now a junior physical geography major at the University of Oklahoma. “Dorms are rather small, especially when there are two people living in them.”
Incoming freshmen often worry so much about taking essential items that they overpack. When Bidelspach first moved from Chickasha to OU’s Couch Tower, she toted along too many clothes, sheets and towels. And she wasn’t alone.
“Some of the people that I roomed with were from at least 200 miles away, and they too brought a lot of stuff that they really didn’t need and ended up having to leave it in their car until they went home next,” she said.
New students should remember that they will have to haul everything they bring to their room, and on moving day, elevators may be hard to catch. They also will accumulate more stuff during the course of the school year.
In the excitement of moving away from home, students shouldn’t forget to stock up on necessary school supplies, along with an umbrella for the inevitable cross-campus walk in the rain.
“I went through a lot of notebooks … and pencils and pens do disappear,” Bidelspach said.
The most useful item Bidelspach said she brought along her freshman year was her laptop.
“There’s a lot of stuff on the Internet that you have to do for school,” she said. “It gets really inconvenient when you go down to a (computer) lab and there’s not a computer available.”
She also suggested that freshmen invest in a mini-refrigerator, coffee pot, microwave and storage shelves or boxes for snacks. Stocking drinks and munchies from the supermarket is much cheaper than constantly hitting the vending machines, campus store or coffee shop.
“I did a lot of cooking in my dorm with a microwave. There’s a lot of recipes out there that you can use a microwave for instead of an oven, and that saved a whole bunch of money,” said Bidelspach, who now lives in a house off campus.
While microwaves and coffeepots are permitted, Beth Anne Underwood, a resident assistant at OU’s Couch Tower, cautioned students against turning their rooms into a restaurant. Indoor grills and mini-stovetops aren’t allowed, and neither are alcoholic beverages.
“You can’t bring candles or anything with an open flame,” added Underwood, a junior majoring in social sciences and organizational students.
The Alex High School graduate advised incoming students to buy storage devices that will help them maximize their small residence hall space. A shoe rack that hangs on the back of a door, squat plastic tubs that can fit under a bed and shelves or cubbies to stow toiletries in a shared bathroom can keep roommates and suitemates organized.
Another essential item no college student should leave home without: their health insurance card. Underwood, who also works in the campus health clinic’s pharmacy, said parents should request an extra card from their insurance company before school starts.
“Students will come in and they’ll just be like, ‘Yeah, I have insurance, it’s through my parents.’ And then we’re like, ‘Well, do you have your card?’ ‘No, you should be able to look it up, can’t you?’ No, we can’t,” Underwood said. “Even a copy would be better than nothing … as long as they have both sides of the card copied.”
But OU freshmen can leave at home the often-recommended rolls of quarters for laundry. The campus washers and dryers don’t take coins; students swipe their ID card and use their debit account to operate the machines.
“All the kids that come with quarters get really angry. … It’s like, ‘Sorry, go spend them at McDonald’s because they’re not going to do anything for you here,” Underwood said with a laugh.