Going off to college is really exciting, and a little overwhelming – to help prepare you for the transition, here are the Top 10 Things you Need for College Dorm Life.
Of course, there are oodles more you could bring along that would help you get comfortable, or be nice to have around (like bean bag chairs and dusting spray) – but in my experience, really long lists make for really great panic attacks. Plus – we think college is expensive enough without getting too crazy on dorm decor.
Start with this list for the basics, and build as you settle in. And remember – you may hit the jackpot with a crazy-prepared room mate who’ll come bearing all sorts of room furnishings, so hold off on any big purchases until you meet 🙂
1. Cute (& Comfortable) Bedding
Dorm rooms are small, and the bed is one of the few pieces of furniture in there. It’ll serve double duty as a place to crash AND a couch, so make sure to maximize it as a design statement, a hiding places for your mess, and a retreat from the world. You’ll want to bring:
- Mattress topper – Either Eggcrate or a memory foam topper for those used and abused mattresses
- Comforter & Sheet Sets – Remember to get the Twin XL size (Kohl’s has some on sale right now that are super cute and only $42 after codes!)
- Bed Pillows – Besides the regular pillow, snag a Bedrest Pillow or throw pillows to prop you up
- Bed Risers – if you plan to store things under your bed these bed risers give you extra room
- Dust Ruffle – to hide all the stuff that’s stashed underneath
Some dorms have carpet, but if they do, do you really want to walk on it in bare feet? Ew, no.
An area rug gives you a cleaner, more comfortable place to lounge and watch tv or hang out. You may want to wait and see if your roommate has brought a rug before you spend much money on one. Of course, where there’s a rug there’s a vacuum – so borrow your mom’s dust buster or urge the parents to upgrade so you can have the full-size vacuum from home.
3. Desk Lamp
Sure there’s overhead lighting – but it’s pretty harsh. You’re going to spend a lot of time hitting the books and a desk lamp that’s more soothing on the eyes is a must. Plus, that way you and your roommate can study at different times without keeping each other awake.
Choose a table lamp style for a more cozy vibe.
4. Mini Fridge
A mini fridge is a great way to save money on food while you’re in college. Not having to go out for every meal means big savings over time – but Ramen can’t sustain you forever. Keep inexpensive meal supplies in your fridge like milk (for cereal), fruit, lunchmeat and cheese, eggs, leftovers, etc…
Wait til you move in, to see if your roomate bought one to share – and also check to see if you’re allowed to have one.
5. Power Strip
You MUST have a surge protector or power strip for your dorm room. This is one of those things you don’t think about until move-in day and then you have to send your dad out to Walgreens to spend $30 on one. You’re definitely going to need a power strip to make room for all those chargers, computer cords, desk lamps, refrigerator, etc….
Most dorms have a community kitchen where students can experimentally cook pasta to their hearts’ content…. so don’t forget the dishes! My husband tells me how he started college without any dishes and found himself one night contemplating reheating his Chinese leftovers on the rotating microwave dish. (ugh!) So make sure to grab an inexpensive, but microwaveable set of dishes that includes:
- Plate, Bowl, Cup and Coffee Mug for in-room dining (Cereal, sandwiches, etc..)
- Pot & Small Skillet for those home cooked meals down in the community kitchen (Think Spaghetti, eggs, grilled cheese, etc…)
- Manual Can Opener
- Spatula, Serving Spoon, & utensils
- Dishwashing supplies (Scrubber, towel, soap)
7. Coffee Maker
A coffee maker is a must for college students. In my opinion, it’s better to skip the Keurig and go for the traditional pot variety so that it can do double duty as a hot water maker (for Ramen Noodles), hot tea, hot cocoa, etc… (This is another one you’ll need to check to see if it’s allowed) Plus – a normal coffee pot will only run you $10 – $20.
8. Shower Set
- Bath Towels & Loofah
- Flip Flops
- Kee it all in a handy shower caddy that you can carry back and forth down the hall.
If you’re lucky enough to score a suite, you’ll also need a shower curtain and bathmat, as well as a couple sink top accessories.
9. Wall Decor
Decorate the depressing walls with some pieces of flair, just remember, you need to be able to take it off easily when you move out. Here are some ideas beyond just posters:
- A Peel & Stick Dry Erase Board is the easiest choice – it can go right over your headboard and peel right off when it’s time to move rooms
- Command Hooks are also great for things like hanging up your headphones, purse, hat, necklaces, etc…
- Plants make things feel more homey – a couple that won’t die on you are the Jade plant, the Aloe plant and the Spider Plant
- Mirrors to bring in more light and check your dark, under eye circles 😉
10. Laundry Supplies
Pick a laundry basket that won’t take up much room and is lightweight enough to haul up and down the stairs. These pop-up hampers are great, and inexpensive. If you’ve put risers under your bed, you may be able to slide a shallow laundry basket under there and hide it completely! Other than that, you’ll want:
- Detergent and Dryer Sheets
- Tons of quarters (FYI – a stack of quarters fits great into a Mini M&M’s container!)
- Febreze – for the times you go awhile between laundry days, or your roommate does…
NOTE: You may be noticing that I’ve left off television and alarm clock. Well – these days it seems like laptops serve pretty well as TV’s and Cell Phones have taken the place of alarm clocks – so why add to the expense if you don’t have to? But if you DO decide to get a tv – that’s another one you’ll definitely want to wait on until you see if your roommate saved you the hassle.