Must-Haves for College Life

(Family Features) Far from home for the first time, many college-bound students face new challenges and responsibilities not always covered on the SAT - from term papers and study groups, to unforgiving professors, part-time jobs and all the other nuances of newfound independence.

And while organic chemistry, French literature and paying rent are struggles in their own right, unsuspecting undergrads often face another education from life's syllabus: surviving without mom or dad and the comforts of home.

And these days, with many students on a tight budget and sharing cramped rooms and counter space, finding ways to bring a bit of domesticity to the dorms - or a first apartment - isn't always a top priority. But maintaining a balance between school and life, while learning the skill sets to take care of oneself in the real world, are arguably just as important as acing any exam.

That's why it's a prerequisite for students to come prepped with at-home necessities to keep them on their A-game. This includes a few culinary essentials and household items designed to keep co-eds well-fed (toasters and countertop ovens) and well-pressed (an iron), even in the wilds of the real world.

So students - and parents - take note. The following checklist features dorm room and apartment essentials that no student should be without. From extra-long sheets and flip-flops, to inexpensive yet stylish appliances touting an array of honor roll-worthy features, each item will help teach grads one of life's greatest lessons: Home need never be that far away. (You should always check with on-campus housing authorities regarding any restrictions on appliances.)

College Essentials Checklist

Ear plugs
Roommates, dorm rooms and apartment complexes are noisy. Keep ear plugs on hand to help shut out distractions and ensure quiet study time and a good night's sleep.

From all-nighters to early classes, keeping a coffeemaker on hand helps keep co-eds awake and cuts down on expensive coffeehouse brews. Snag multi-cup machines, like those from Black & Decker, with auto shutoff features (it powers down as you power up for the day), plus Sneak-a-Cup capabilities, allowing you to snag a quick cup, even as the full batch is still brewing.

DVD case
Budding cinephiles should leave DVD boxes at home and transfer their collection to a sturdy carrying case, making their new, semi-nomadic lifestyle that much easier to manage and to keep all their favorite films in one, easy-to-find place.

For undergrads, bagels and toast are pretty much a major food group. Luckily these days, even affordable toasters come in cool, stainless steel designs thanks to brands like Black & Decker, which have preset toasting features, extra-wide slots for easy loading and unloading, plus retractable cords - perfect for tight spaces and easy storage.

Community showers are an unfortunate rite of passage for many dorm dwellers. So always remember to keep a dedicated pair of flip-flops to spare bare feet from touching questionable tile.

Extra-long sheets
When it comes to bedding, just remember: Double-X. Translation? Extra sets of extra-long twin sheets for oddly-sized dorm-room mattresses. Students don't always have time to do laundry, which is why it's smart to keep an extra pair on hand, too.

For budget living, any mix master knows that a good blender is perfect for preparing smoothies, salsas, shakes and more. Chic and inexpensive models from Black & Decker contain convenient features, too, like built-in cord storage, dishwasher-safe removable parts for easy clean-up, and even a handy 1-ounce measuring cup inside the lid.

Surge protector
Between phone chargers, computers, desk lamps and all sorts of other gadgets, it's always a bright idea to bring a power strip with surge protector to help manage today's many electronic needs.

Countertop oven
Essential for starter apartments and studios, cooking couldn't be easier with a countertop oven. Value-friendly Black & Decker models lend versatility with bake, broil, toast and warming functions, while convection airflow from quartz heaters offers quick and consistently cooked brain food - from hot sandwiches to small pizzas - for even the smallest taste of home.

Sure, home is great for free laundry. But between visits, be sure to have a stash of quarters ready for the laundry room. And a timer isn't bad either. Nothing worse than finding one's wet unmentionables piled high atop a public machine by an impatient neighbor.

Internships, office hours and hot dates have one thing in common: the need to make a good first impression. This is why students should always have a good iron on hand. The latest and greatest from Black & Decker even offer vertical steaming for trouble-free touch-ups right on the hanger, while space-friendly one-touch cord reel features are perfect for fast and easy storage, too.

For more information on small home appliances, visit


Black & Decker Appliances