Back-to-School Shopping 101

By previous contributor Minnie

It’s that time of the year again: back-to-school shopping time!

Below is my what-to-take-to-university list. This list is obviously not a comprehensive list. If you’re a commuter, you most likely don’t need to look beyond the first and second categories. Tips for staying on budget can be found below the following list.


  • Desk lamp
  • Nice, comfortable office chair (TIP: the ones offered in residence aren’t the very best)
  • Planner (TIP: buy your own or get one from UTSU on Clubs Day during Frosh week!)
  • Dictionary and thesaurus
  • LOTS of lined paper (TIP: Walmart is selling 150-packs for $0.10)
  • Printing paper
  • Pens, pencils, paper, file folders, binders, highlighters
  • Scissors, tape
  • Stapler, staples, paper clips, hole punch
  • Post-it notes
  • White Tac (TIP: so it doesn’t mark the walls)
  • Stamps and envelopes


  • Passport or driving license
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Resume/CV and references
  • Bank account details
  • Old textbooks and notes
  • Doctor and dentist details
  • Other university documents


  • Mugs
  • Kettle
  • Knives, forks and spoons
  • Bowls (TIP: for cereal, soup, ice cream, etc.)
  • Small frying or omelette pan
  • 1 small, 1 large saucepan with lids
  • Can opener
  • Coffee, tea, milk, sugar
  • Sandwich bags


  • Sports gear (if necessary)
  • Raincoat
  • Umbrella


  • Multivitamins
  • Painkillers
  • Basic first aid kit – plasters, antiseptic wipes, bandages
  • Some cold/flu remedy in case you are struck down by freshers’ flu


  • Bath and hand towels (+ possibly a flannel)
  • Basket for shower supplies
  • Box of tissues
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Showergel
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Nail clippers
  • Deodorant
  • Cologne/perfume
  • Hair spray
  • Hairbrush


  • Febreeze
  • Laundry basket
  • Coat hangers


  • Alarm clock
  • Calculator
  • Computer and/or laptop
  • Printer (TIP: B/W printing in libraries costs $0.15 per sheet, $0.50 for coloured per side)
  • Intranet cable for your room
  • Mini fridge (TIP: Lower Burwash has a communal refrigerator on every floor except the first)
  • Phone, iPod, headphones and charger
  • Camera
  • Batteries
  • Multi plug adaptor/extension lead


  • Slippers/flip flops
  • T-shirts
  • Jumpers
  • Trousers
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Evening wear (TIP: for High Ball!)


  • Sheets
  • Duvet and duvet covers
  • Pillows & pillow cases
  • Mattress cover
  • Sleeping bag (TIP: for when friends come to stay/when you go to stay)

Now, if you would like to stick to a budget, here are some important tips.

  • Check to see if you have these items at home first
    • It’s time to be financially responsible for yourself, learn to save money and set yourself a budget to which you will stick to every time you go shopping
  • You don’t always need to buy completely brand-new textbooks.
    • Before going to buy books full-price, check out the Used-Books section on Amazon, buy it second-hand via the U of T “Textbook Exchange” group on Facebook, and ask alumni if they’re selling their used materials, and go to BMV Books!
  • Look online and in the local flyers for Back-to-School sales (!)
  • If you’re staying on res, be sure to know your roommates and the people around you. For things like toilet paper, shampoo, soap, etc., you guys can share the cost!
  • You don’t always need to buy brand name items

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