The Ultimate List of Dorm Room Essentials for Any College Student
So you’re probably wondering why I am writing a post about dorm room essentials. Since my baby boy (*sigh*) graduated from high school last month and is headed off to college soon, I’m sharing all of my research with you! While these past few months have certainly been unusual (to say the least), I am trying to remain positive that my son will start school on campus in August.
As such, I am compiling a list of freshman dorm essentials. Perhaps even as important, I am making a list of what should you not bring to a college dorm. Since I figure it might help some of you out, I’ve put together this Ultimate List of Dorm Room Essentials.
Although it won’t look or feel like college did in the past, that doesn’t mean his dorm room doesn’t have to look amazing and be organized and efficient!
Even though all dorm rooms look different and are different sizes, there are many items that all kids will benefit from regardless of how big (or small) their dorm room is! In doing lots (and I mean lots) of research - yes, he’s my oldest - I have discovered that there are certain things kids really need, certain they kinda need, and certain they really don’t need.
You may be asking, what do you really need in a dorm room? Or, what does every college student need for their dorm? However, what you think your kid needs is likely different from what he or she believes. Plus, if you are a newbie like me, I am guessing that you will also find some unexpected things to bring to college.
Thus, for the purposes of this post, I will note from time to time my recommendation as to whether something is truly needed. Also, since clothes, toiletries, etc. are personal, I’ll leave those up to you and your kiddos! 🙂
Amazon Prime - Student
To begin, make sure your student knows that he or she is entitled to 6 FREE MONTHS of Amazon Prime!! In addition to tons of awesome things like shows, movies, music, books, and more, Prime gets you FREE 2-day shipping.
This is a really convenient option because you can get your dorm room essentials delivered directly to your dorm. Since this will make move-in much easier, it is definitely worth signing up (and at only $6.49/month after the free 6 months, it’s an incredible deal)!
Dorm Room Essentials - What do college students need most?
To begin, let’s talk about bedding, which is a dorm room essential even if your boys don’t think so. 😉 First, items such as pillows, sheets, etc. are things that everyone has their own personal preference for, so I’d suggest looking for some of those in person if possible! Now I’m guessing that boys are easier than girls when it comes to picking out comforters. I won’t know for sure until it’s my daughter’s turn to go to college in 3 years. 🙂 However, choosing comes down to a few things: quality, price, comfort, and, of course, style! I love a good deal, and was thrilled to find this set that my son loved (again, boys are easy and I am lucky):
Aside from the fact that this set looks awesome, it’s also an amazing value! And since it is by Nautica, you know it is great quality. Also, it includes a Twin XL Comforter and Sham, a 3-Piece Twin XL Sheet Set, a 6-Piece Towel Set (2 Bath Towels, 2 Hand Towels, 2 Washcloths), and a Plush Blanket! So if you’re like me, a great deal plus less shopping equals a happy mom! And getting a bunch of dorm room essentials out of the way all at once is a huge bonus!
This set is only $179.95 and you also get free shipping. But wait! You can also get $25 Off Orders $90+ Sitewide with Code: FALL25 (Valid through 9/21)!! OCM also has a fabulous selection of Care Packages, Bedding, Bath, Décor & more. Click here to shop now!
In addition to a great comforter set, another dorm room essential for your college student is a comfortable bed. Undeniably, dorm beds aren’t the most luxurious. For this reason, a good mattress topper is key. I love this one, also from OCM: College Classic Twin XL Memory Foam Mattress Topper. There are some more expensive options, but this one is a really nice choice that won’t break the bank (and you can use the 20% off coupon too)!
Finally, good mattress covers are absolutely dorm room essentials. This one from SafeRest has premium protection against dust mites, fluids, urine, perspiration, and allergens.
Next, although they may not want to admit it, your kiddo is going to have to start doing laundry, especially if their college is super far from home. Here are a few of my recommended dorm room essentials to make doing laundry a bit easier:
The option below from WOWLIVE is great because it is collapsible and includes 2 removable laundry bags as well as a tall, foldable hamper with 2 handles. I like the option of laundry bags as they are easy to transport when going home or to the laundromat. I think it’s also great to have a basket for doing laundry in the dorm, as it is easier to put folded clothes in (I know, it’s a BIG “if” as to whether clothes will actually be folded, but let’s give them the option)! 😉
Another nice option is the 2.0 Bushel Home Logic Rolling Hamper with Pop-Up Handle as it has wheels and a long handle - since who knows how far away the laundry room will be? Some college students (particularly girls) also say they swear by a drying rack such as this one, but I can’t see my son ever using one, so I can’t say for sure whether it is a dorm room essential!
Another dorm room essential, especially for smaller rooms, is storage. Given that there are so many storage options to choose from it can be truly overwhelming to decide which ones to buy. First, I was so excited to find this fabulous deal on these Sterilite Footlockers! They are the perfect way to transport everything needed up to school, and since they are on wheels, make transporting from car to dorm a breeze.
Then they can be used to store extras in the dorm (they even stack); as a bonus, there is a slot for a padlock, so your child can lock away any valuables should he or she desire. And the best park? Walmart has these for only $39.99 for a Case of 2!! They come in titanium (shown) and other colors. Hurry - at this price these are sure to go quickly!! (The last I checked these were out of stock. I do not know if they will be getting more. Another great option from Amazon is this version).
Next, this HOMZ 3 Drawer Medium Storage Cart is perfect for storing all sorts of things, from clothes to snacks, to toiletries, and anything else you can think of! While this specific unit isn’t a necessity, I would certainly recommend some sort of storage drawer unit. I love this one because 1) it’s durable; 2) it’s on wheels, and 3) it comes in lots of fun colors!
Another great way to make the most out of space is to get some great college space savers. These are definitely dorm room essentials! For example, an over rod accessory organizer like the one shown at the right is a perfect way to maximize space. With places for clothes, shoes, and accessories, this will keep things neat and organized!
Speaking of closets, Magic Hangers can save up to 80% more space in your closet! So while not completely necessary dorm room essentials, if your child has a small closet they certainly can come in handy! In addition to utilizing closet space wisely, using space under the bed is also a great way to save space.
How do you organize a small dorm room? In addition to the great options above, boxes are a always a good way to organize and save space. While there are tons of different types, including plastic and fabric, definitely find out whether your child’s bed can be lofted before purchasing a bunch of boxes. If the bed will be lofted quite high, a rolling cart or 2 can be used under the bed! If the bed cannot be lofted, make the most out of the small space with something like these:
Finally, over-the-door racks are huge space savers and a college dorm essential! Whether for storing shoes, hanging towels, or having a place for hats, coats, etc., using the back of a door is a great way to maximize storage in a dorm room!
Dorm Room Essentials - What Electronics Should I Bring to College?
Next, let’s talk about electronics (which are pretty important dorm room essentials in light of remote learning). Let’s be honest, my son still can’t comprehend that I got through college without the internet! In contrast, our kids’ whole world revolves around electronics! Therefore, be sure that the big ones are protected and have all the proper accessories. First, the biggest thing your student will likely bring to college is a laptop. Whether it’s a Mac or a PC is a personal preference. In fact, I am a PC girl, while my son is Mac all the way.
Regardless of which type your child prefers, be sure to do your research before purchasing one (many schools have discount programs, and depending on your child’s course of study a specific type or model may be required). That said, if your child is looking for a Mac, Apple has a great deal right now! My son used his graduation gift money to purchase a new MacBook Pro and got FREE AirPods (I just checked and Apple is still running this offer - purchase through the education store link and get free Airpods plus 20% off AppleCare+!
If your child prefers a PC, definitely check out the Microsoft Surface line. They are super versatile and have a tremendous number of incredible features. My husband’s company just provided him with the Surface Pro and he LOVES it! Even better, students get 10% off - just click the image for more info!
First, since your student may still be engaging in a lot of remote learning, good headphones are high up on the dorm room essentials list this year. Even if they aren’t, headphones are pretty important for studying in the library or other quiet place since so many classes have video components. Headphones are another personal choice. Many kids love AirPods, and Amazon has a great deal right now if this is what your child prefers.
However, if your student would rather headphones that go over the head and are more cushioned, these are a great option from Sony. They are wireless, Bluetooth enabled, and are a great price right now!
Next, while an ethernet cable may seem like a thing of the past, many universities are now recommending that students bring them. Since many classes will be online this year due to COVID-19, wifi networks are going to be flooded and likely will run slowly, especially since many classes will feature virtual meetings and/or videos. Plugging directly into the internet network when possible is a great workaround (this is also true for televisions)! However, be careful: many newer computers do not have ethernet ports! Therefore, make sure to check your student’s computer! If there is not a port, you can purchase an adapter. This is a great option because it works for more than just the ethernet cable:
In addition, since your child is bound to have plenty of electronic devices, it’s important to have enough places to plug them in and charge them all! Therefore surge protectors with multiple outlets are definitely dorm room essentials! I love the ones that have both outlets and USB ports because they are functional and save space (both dorm room essentials)!
There are tons to choose from, but I thought this one was particularly cool since it can sit right on a desk or table. It has 9 AC Outlets and 4 USB Ports, and you can choose from either a 6.5′ or longer 10′ extension cord which makes it even more convenient! Even better, at the end of the school year my son told me it was one of his favorite things!
In addition to a good surge protector, a great desk lamp is a really important dorm room essential.
As I have said, there are so many different choices when it comes to electronics, and lamps are no exception. So while it’s a personal preference, I recommend this one since it is multifunctional (again, I love saving money and space)! This LED Desk Lamp has a wireless charger, USB charging port, desk lighting with 5 brightness levels, 5 lighting modes, is dimmable, has touch control, and auto timer!
Other electronic items to consider are a fan (if your child’s dorm does not have air conditioning), extra flash drives, a portable speaker, extra batteries, and a portable charger. None of these are absolutely necessary but may be helpful and/or convenient depending on your student’s circumstances. Finally, in the “probably not necessary but your kid will say it is a category” are t.v.’s, video game consoles, and the like. I’ll leave those decisions to you. 😛
However, since most (if not all) dorms do have high-speed wi-fi, some sort of streaming device such as an Amazon Fire Stick is definitely a dorm room essential in my opinion (and makes a perfect gift)! Finally, it might not be such a bad idea for your student to have an infrared thermometer on hand this year. This one is a really nice option as it is both affordable and has excellent reviews.
Dorm Room - COVID-19 Resources
I know it’s not something anyone really wants to discuss, but sadly, even with vaccinations, there is still the chance that an outbreak of a variant could occur. Since I am always in the “better safe than sorry” camp, I believe that the following information is indeed a college dorm essential. Since I’m the mom of a kid going away for the first time, I am of course struggling with sending him away during a pandemic. However, I know it is important that he go; therefore, I want to ensure that he has everything he needs to keep him safe. You may have been hearing of “go bags” or “COVID Go Bags” that students should have pre-packed in the event they must be isolated or quarantined. To make things easy, I have put the most commonly listed items here, some with links to purchase (many of them are things you probably already have). While I hope the bags never need to be used, the peace of mind is certainly worth it!
COVID Go Bag - What They Should Contain
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss.
- Shampoo, conditioner, and hairbrush.
- Soap and deodorant.
- Feminine hygiene products.
- Laundry detergent.
- Hand sanitizer (I also love these individually wrapped antibacterial hand sanitizing wipes).
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
- Cough medicine and cough drops.
- Pillow case.
- Undergarments and pajamas.
- Socks and flip flops or sandals.
- Portable Phone charger.
- Reading material (books, magazines) and/or journal.
- Refillable water bottle.
This is also a favorite in our house - we always hear someone asking for Bubba 🙂
- Plastic utensils.
- Printed contact list with phone numbers.
- Extra face masks.
- Non-perishable snacks and bottles of water.
- Optional: Lotion, robe, personal blanket and pillow, personal clothing items (pack lightly).
Additionally, be sure to remind your child to add these to their go-bag before leaving for isolation/quarantine spaces:
- ID, insurance card and credit card.
- Two-week supply of personal medications/prescriptions.
- All schoolwork, books and supplies.
- Computer and power cord.
Dorm Room Non-Essentials
After you have the important dorm room essentials purchased, there are definitely some items that will make life easier for your college student. Moreover, they deserve some fun stuff too! Since Covid-19 will require kids to spend more time than ever inside, it’s important for them to feel comfortable and at home. As such, I’ve compiled some things that aren’t truly essential but will make your child’s transition to college a bit easier.
My favorite actually happens to be one I have for myself and use pretty much all day (I’m using it now)! In fact, I have gone through a number of lap desks in my time, and none compare to this one! Since most of our kids will be engaging in some aspect of remote learning, this actually could be considered an essential item, but since it’s pretty luxurious in my opinion, I am putting it here. But trust me, your college student will thank you repeatedly for this one (plus right now there is a coupon)!!!
Keep checking back as I will be adding more awesome products as I find them (including deals)! Also, be sure to check out my dorm room recommendation list here for new products and updates! Do you have one to add? Please leave it in a comment below so everyone can see!
Finally, don’t forget to be sure you have a way to bring all these dorm room essentials to college! Whether you are driving or flying, these bags from Ikea are amazing! They are huge, strong, and you can’t beat the price! Between these and the storage lockers described above, your student will be set for all 4 years and beyond!
I hope this helps make getting ready for college a little easier. While I wish I could ease the heartache of having to let your kids go off on their own, unfortunately, I’m trying not to think about that yet myself. 🙁 However old they get, they will always be our babies! If you have another child and would like some great info about the application process, please check out this post!
Until next time….
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