Dorm Essentials: Everything You Need for College
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For many students, one of the first big steps in the college experience is moving into a dorm. While packing for school, you should make sure to bring all the essentials you'll need to feel ready and excited for university life.
Preparing for college can be a whirlwind experience, especially if you're moving out on your own for the first time. We created this list to help you feel more prepared for the move. Having some familiar, functional, and comforting things around can ease the transition from home to dorm.
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Bedding and Sleep
Most colleges only provide students with a mattress, and incoming students must purchase sheets for their beds. Many dorm beds require XL sheets, but be sure to confirm the mattress size before buying anything. You should also consider buying more than one set of sheets so you always have a clean set handy.
New college students should buy a comforter for their bed, as not all dorms offer thermostat control for each room. Students should also consider purchasing a hypoallergenic comforter to minimize allergens in their dorm room.
Finding a comfortable pillow is a must. Good pillows can improve sleep quality and reduce the chances of neck and back strain. Standard-sized pillows offer the most options in terms of pillow cases.
A comforter may not offer enough warmth, especially during the winter. Consider supplementing your bedding with a fleece blanket for additional comfort and warmth. You can order a blanket that matches your mattress size or order a larger size if you want to feel extra cozy.
Colleges typically reuse the same mattresses year after year. Students should strongly consider buying a mattress cover to fully wrap their mattress before putting on any bedding. Who knows where that mattress has been! Mattress covers keep all bedding clean and separate from the mattress itself.
Not all college mattresses provide the same level of comfort as an at-home mattress. A mattress pad adds an extra layer of cushion and comfort to any bed. Students can customize the size of their mattress pad to fit their mattress and choose the level of thickness for the pad itself.
College dorms bustle with activity, even late into the night. Most students go to bed at different times, including future roommates. You may want to purchase earplugs for sleeping to block out ambient noise, particularly if you're a light sleeper with a roommate.
Dorm room curtains might not block out all ambient light, and roommates might not share the same bedtime. An eye mask can help block out both exterior and interior light while you sleep. These masks can also come in handy for midday naps.
College students must take sole responsibility for getting themselves to class on time. Students can purchase an alarm clock to help them wake up in the morning. For heavy sleepers, consider putting the alarm clock somewhere unreachable from the bed.
Bedside caddies hang off the side of the bed and feature useful pockets for storing phones, glasses, eye masks, and chargers. These caddies eliminate the need for a bedside table and help students in lofted beds keep the items they need for sleeping within convenient reach.
Shower and Bath
Most dorms provide communal showers, and students cannot leave personal items like shampoo, conditioner, and soap in the bathroom. To keep everything organized and easily transportable, consider buying a shower caddy. You can store your shower caddy in your room without sacrificing much space.
Shower Flip Flops
Students should never walk barefoot in a communal shower. For an easy solution, buy flip flops specifically for showering. These special shoes keep your feet clean and don't get waterlogged when worn inside the shower.
Students should purchase more than one bath towel before heading to college. Universities don't provide towels in the bathrooms, so you'll need to bring your own when you shower.
Students should consider buying a bathrobe. In most dorms, reaching the communal shower requires walking through a public hallway. Use a bathrobe to stay covered and make yourself more comfortable while walking through a public space. Most college showers provide hooks on which you can hang towels and bathrobes.
Students with long hair or hair that takes a long time to dry should buy a blow dryer. A blow dryer allows you to style your hair and ensure it's dry before attending class. Many colleges provide outlets near the bathroom mirrors for blow dryers.
While many colleges provide a wardrobe or closet, they don't usually give students hangers for their clothes. To maximize space, hang as many clothes as you can. You can even purchase thin hangers in bulk to make the most of your closet space.
Dorms don't provide in-unit washers and dryers, so students will need a laundry basket to carry their dirty laundry to and from their dorm room and the laundry room.
Laundry Drying Rack
With a communal laundry room, students can't always find available washing and drying machines when they want them. A collapsible drying rack can be used on days you can't find an open dryer and for delicate items that may get ruined in a dryer.
Under-Bed Storage Bags
College dorm rooms are generally small, making maximizing space a necessity. Students who don't loft their beds (or don't have the option to loft) can get under-bed storage bags to make the most of their limited space options. You should also consider buying multiple under-bed storage bags for clothes, shoes, extra school supplies, and winter gear.
Space management plays an important role in a small dorm room. A storage ottoman provides a comfortable footrest or seat while offering additional storage space. Students can select a color that matches their decor and keep useful items such as blankets and remotes stored away until needed.
Hanging Closet Organizer
Hanging closet organizers offer alternative means of using closet space. You can put shoes, hats, and other clothing that can't be hung from a hanger in this shelving unit. When not using it, you can easily collapse the entire organizer and pack it away until you need it again.
These convenient storage drawers offer plenty of space for school supplies, bedding, and clothes. The wheels on the bottom of the unit allow students to easily rearrange the placement of these drawers. You can also use the flat surface on top of the drawers as a bedside stand.
Students who don't loft their beds can use bed risers. Bed risers lift bed frames a few inches off the floor so that more space becomes available underneath. You can then use this extra space for additional storage.
Many dorms lack air conditioning. Students may need a fan for their room, especially for the beginning and end of the school year. A fan with adjustable heights and speeds can help you stay cool, even during the hottest days of the year.
Students should consider buying a trash can for their dorm room, as some dorms don't provide in-room trash cans or recycling bins. Without an in-room trash can, the closest trash receptacle may be down the hall. Having a nearby trash can also cuts down on messes and clutter.
While colleges provide plenty of eating options on campus, students may want something a little more conveniently located. A minifridge allows you to keep snacks and specialty food items that dining halls might not offer.
Even students without carpets on the floor should invest in a handheld vacuum to clean up dust, food crumbs, and dirt. Handheld vacuums are easy to use and don't take up much space.
Long Charging Cord
Students need charging cords for their devices, including phones and laptops. Investing in long charging cords can make dorm life easier, particularly if you've got a lofted bed or a limited number of outlets. With long charging cords, you can use and enjoy your devices anywhere in the room.
Many dorm rooms don't have carpeted floors. Consider buying an area rug to cover a portion of the floor. Rugs make the room cozier, keep feet warmer, and add a little style. Be sure to measure your room before ordering a rug to ensure you buy the right size.
While most colleges offer coffee in the dining hall or on-campus coffee shops, students don't always have the time to wait in line for a cup. A personal coffee maker lets you make coffee whenever you want and helps you save money in the long run.
Microwaveable Dish Set
While some dorms don't allow in-room microwaves, almost every dorm provides a communal microwave in a common area. Students should buy a microwaveable dish set so they can heat up meals and snacks whenever they want without making a mess.
Hot Water Kettle
Students can use hot water kettles to make beverages like tea, cider, and hot chocolate whenever the mood strikes. These electric kettles don't require access to a stove and can heat up more than one mug of hot water in a relatively short amount of time.
Students should consider buying a few sets of utensils to have on hand in their dorm room in case they ever want to eat meals or snacks without visiting the dining hall. This set features chopsticks and metal straws, in addition to a fork, knife, and spoon.
Coffee or tea can make all the difference for those early morning or late night classes. Students with a personal coffee maker or hot water kettle should buy a tumbler to carry their drinks. You may also be able to bring your tumbler to the dining hall and fill it up there.
Staying hydrated is key to a healthy lifestyle. Students can purchase a reusable water bottle to fill at public water fountains or in the dining hall. These bottles also reduce plastic waste and help save money by eliminating the need to buy plastic water bottles.
Students may want to illuminate their dorm room with a floor lamp. Overhead lights may not provide adequate light for late-night studying or just hanging out. Floor lamps don't take up much space and can brighten up any room.
Students can decorate their dorm room to give it a homey, more personalized touch. Command strips let you hang posters, lights, and other decorations on the wall without damaging the room or the decorations. Using and removing these adhesive strips is simple and doesn't leave a mess.
Scrapes, bumps, and bruises can happen at any time. Students should keep a first-aid kit with basic supplies like bandages and ice packs in their rooms at all times. While dorms should have a communal first aid kit, a personal kit provides quicker and easier access.
Toolkits seem unimportant until something needs fixing. A small toolkit with basic supplies will help keep students' furniture and other items in top shape. Toolkits can also come in handy for putting up or taking down room decorations, like lights and pictures.
Pepper Spray Keychain
All colleges do their best to keep students safe on campus, but it never hurts to prepare for the worst. Consider buying a pepper spray keychain to keep on your person at all times, especially when walking across campus late at night. Keep the pepper spray in an easily accessible place, such as your pocket.
Desk and School Supplies
Most dorm rooms come with a desk, but students must purchase all other supplies. Consider buying a desk lamp to combat dim room lighting and facilitate nighttime studying. These desk lamps help ease eye strain and offer a USB port for charging a smartphone.
Desktop organizers help students keep their work spaces neat and tidy. Different baskets and compartments allow you to store all the supplies you need to complete homework, including pencils and pens, sticky notes, highlighters, and paperclips.
While noise-canceling headphones don't completely silence the outside world, they can drastically reduce ambient noise. Students can use noise-canceling headphones to complete homework in crowded spaces, tune out noisy roommates when they need to concentrate, and listen to music without distraction.
Whiteboard stickers can turn any surface into a functional whiteboard. Students can jot down messages for their roommates or use whiteboard stickers for homework notes.
While all students need a laptop or tablet for classes, they should recognize that exclusively using track pads isn't good for their wrists. A wireless mouse transports easily and improves the user experience.
Desk pads protect a desk's surface from scratches, heat damage, and stray ink marks. Students can also use a wireless mouse on a desk pad. Desk pads clean easily and offer waterproofing protection for the desk underneath.
Power strips turn one electrical outlet into several, allowing students to plug in multiple items at once. Students should buy a power strip to increase the number of options for plugging in lamps and charging devices.
Students need to stay organized and on top of homework to do well in their classes. A planner can take away a lot of stress by helping you record assignments and track deadlines. Planners can easily fit into a backpack or bag, too.
Students need a backpack to transport books, devices, notebooks, and other school supplies to and from class. These bags offer comfort and durability, with plenty of pockets for storage.
Portable chargers keep phones charged, even without an available outlet. Students should consider purchasing a portable charger to make sure their phone stays charged throughout the school day.
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