This chorus of questions evokes a vision of the entire incoming class frantically dashing from store to store stocking up on enough supplies to provision an expedition through the Sahara, except I don't know how you'd carry a flat-screen television on a camel. I understand that starting college is a big step involving occasional brushes with chaos and that shopping is one way to impose order and quell the rising panic, but these shopping lists have some serious gaps. Here are some things I hope every new student will pack for the expedition:
Laundry detergent and the ability to use it. Febreze may do the trick for a day or two, but eventually you'll have to actually wash some clothes or no one will want to sit next to you in the cafeteria. Any student who can't sort clothes into hot, warm, and cold needs a crash course before the semester starts.
Writing implements--and the willingness to use them. Some students think it's really cute to show up for a writing class without a pen or pencil every single day, but trust me: it's not cute. It's annoying and disruptive and it suggests that you suffer from a deep and abiding lack of comprehension of how college works.
An alarm clock obnoxious enough to get you out of bed. Mom doesn't make house calls to the dorm, so find another reliable method to get to class on time without dribbling Cheerios all along the way.
An off button--for everything. Turn off the noise, the phone, the Youtube videos, untether yourself from the earbuds and the chargers and electronic hand-holders, and walk away into the silence and solitude for a few minutes a day until you can work up to an hour. Learn to possess your soul with patience (assuming that you have a soul, and if you've already sold your soul for a mess of pottage, now would be a good time to get it back).
An open mind. If you already know everything about everything, go out and apply your knowledge in the so-called Real World and see how that works. Students who know they don't know it all and who are eager to encounter new ideas are welcome in my classroom.
Perseverance. Finding the right size Ethernet cord is easy and mistakes are readily remedied, but finding reliable information and an effective way to express it can be difficult--so difficult that some students take the lazy way out and let others do their thinking for them, or they give up at the first bump in the road. A student who knows how to keep working through the obstacles will get an education, which is way more important than the right size Ethernet cord.
A smile. Seriously: we've all seen enough of that cynical, world-weary scowl, and we're tired of it. Give those facial muscles a workout and watch how smiles light up the world.
And after all that, go ahead and worry about bed risers and televisions--and textbooks. This expedition runs on textbooks, so stock up and stop complaining. If the camel balks at the weight, you can always jettison the television.