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Top Ten Essential Items for Your Dorm Room

Updated on April 15, 2013

Moving into a college dorm is a very exciting rite of passage for many young adults. It’s definitely the beginning of a new thrilling journey, but it comes with a few pitfalls as well. For me, the biggest one was leaving behind the comfort of my family home. I soon discovered that my clothes didn’t get miraculously organized in my closet and that there are a lot of additional errands I had to do myself - like grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry and time management. Many college students living in dorms find out soon enough that the “freedom” and the lack of supervision come at a price.

This is a list of my top ten must-have college dorm items that I hope will bring you some comfort and convenience during your college years. Of course, I am not going to include any obvious must-have items like a laptop, toiletries, sheets, towels or dishes. This list mostly contains items that you might not have thought about yourself, but you’ll definitely need.

Reading pillow by Cequal Products
Reading pillow by Cequal Products

1. Reading pillow

Even if you haven’t stepped into a dorm room in your entire life, you know that space is notoriously limited. That’s why getting a reading pillow for your bed is a must. It will allow you to read, do homework and work on your laptop in bed comfortably. The best thing about reading pillows is that they are portable, so you can take them with you anywhere. You can use it as an extra seat during study groups or parties and bring it with you to your friend’s room for a quick video game match.

2. Carpet

Make sure you coordinate this one with your roommates, but having a little carpet or a rug in your room makes a huge difference. Carpets help any room feel cozier and make sitting on the floor possible and enjoyable. If you want to make a statement, be bold with the color of your carpet. Red, for example, demonstrates power and energy, orange is joy and warmth, and yellow is happy and positive. So, think of which aspect you would like to influence your mood the most, and, of course, color coordination shouldn’t be ignored either.

3. Mini-fridge and microwave

A mini fridge is essential during long nights of studying. Most school cafeterias close around 6 p.m. and are definitely closed on Sundays. I can bet anything that you’ll be studying in the evenings and the weekends quite a lot, which ultimately means that you will need snacks (for some reason these two always go together). Running to the grocery store or ordering delivery is very inconvenient in the middle of a study session, but if you have a nice little fridge filled up with healthy foods and energizing snacks, this won’t be a problem. This is an investment that will definitely pay off (having food delivered could add up quickly).

Don’t forget to get a cheap microwave too. Most of the time you won’t have the time or the energy to cook, and microwaving a Lean Cuisine will be a lifesaver.

4. Something to decorate

It is inevitable that you will miss the coziness of home. But living in a dorm room doesn’t mean you can’t add a touch of personality and include a few things that brighten it up and make you happier. An electric photo frame with pictures of your loved-ones always adds a little feel of home, a few wall stickers show your individuality, and if you have a favorite painting or a poster, don’t leave it behind. You can ask your friends to make a collage with a few of the great moments you shared together — that way you have something to look forward to during the long nights of studying.

Dorm Safe
Dorm Safe | Source

5. Dorm safe

You ‘re going to be living with a bunch of roommates for the next four or more years, and chances are that the door to your dorm will be frequently left unlocked. People will be coming in and out all the time and you’ll definitely have to find a way to protect your valuables.

Dorm safes are great for this reason. At least one of your roomies will have a really hard time giving up the concept that “sharing is caring.” So, if after numerous conversations, she is still wearing your valuable earrings or favorite clothes, your dorm safe will become very nifty. Even if you don’t think you need a safe, get one. Remember “better safe than sorry.”

6. Sleeping mask and earplugs

If you want to keep the relationship with your roomie cordial then you better get a sleeping mask and earplugs! You might be lucky and have a roommate that doesn’t snore, goes to bed and wakes up at the exact time as you, doesn’t bring guests in your room and is super quiet when he/she sees you studying, but let’s face it – this scenario is pretty much impossible. A sleeping mask and earplugs are two items that many don’t even think they will need, and yet they are quite essential, as you will soon discover.

7. Storage Organizer

I already mentioned how sacred dorm room space is, so if you are an overpacker, have someone recheck your boxes and suitcases. For sure, invest in a closet organizer and under-the-bed storage. Anything that could save even a little bit of space would be helpful.

There are so many storage ideas available on the market these days. My personal favorites are the chairs storage pockets covers (you can store a bunch of your books for the semester on the back of your chair), jewelry closet organizers, over-the-door shoe racks and shower caddies. Try to use any possible space you can, like under the bed and under your desk, for example.

8. Laundry bag

If you have been living with your parents until now, chances are you don’t even know how to turn on the laundry machine or how much detergent you need for each load. Well, with the price of a few shrunk or dyed clothes, you will learn. If you don’t want to be leaving a trail of clothes to and from the laundry room, you better invest in a laundry bag or a compact hamper.

9. Portable, clip-on reading light

Having a portable reading light is necessary for a few reasons: first, the lighting in dorm rooms is never good. You will always need a few extra lights. Second, if you are a nocturnal person and you prefer to do most of you studying later in the evening, having a portable, clip-on light will not disturb your roommate too much. Third, you don’t have to be stuck studying at your desk. You can clip it onto your reading pillow and study in your bed or the floor, for example. And if you get the battery operated ones, guess what, you just bought a flashlight too. Now, trying to find that sock under the bed will be so much easier.

10. Slippers/ Flip flops

Dorm rooms are not particularly clean, especially the bathrooms. A pair of slip-on sandals or rubber flip flops for the shower is a must if you want to protect your feet from fungal foot infections and warts. Yuck! These infections are so resistant to treatment that sometimes they could stick with you years past your graduation.


Sure, living in a dorm room won’t be as comfortable as living at home, but if you follow these words of advice, I guarantee you will have a much better experience and a lot more awesome moments to share at the end of the school year.

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    • dingyskipper profile image

      Carolyn 4 years ago from Northamptonshire

      Fantastic, really useful, never even stayed on at school myself, but think your ideas are very good