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College and University Freshman Dorm Room Musthaves

Updated on September 8, 2019
Kimberly Martis profile image

Kimberly Martis is a Dutch Caribbean freelance writer. She writes about culture, beauty, tv-shows, music, movies, odd jobs, and fiction.

Going to college is a great experience that only happens once in your life. And it's a big step to freedom. Most of the time this freedom comes by leaving your parental home and living in a dorm. Of course, there are many different forms of staying in a dorm. You could stay in a dorm on campus, off-campus, share an apartment with friends or rent a bedroom with a family.
Of course, what you need will depend on the above-mentioned living arrangements. Besides that, it also depends on what is being provided. But in every dorm (small or big) you can create a great place for yourself.

College dorm room.
College dorm room. | Source



Some college and university dorm rooms come with a bed. Others don’t. So it really depends on what your dorm room offers if you need to bring a bed.


A good matras is the key to a great night of sleep. If there already is a bed including matras make sure that you test the matras upfront. If it's not okay bring change it to our own.


These speak for themselves.


Also speaks for itself.


Pillows are very important to rest your head after a long day of studying.

Full- body mirror

Usually, there’s a mirror in the bathroom. But a full-length mirror is even better as you can see your whole outfit at once. If you don’t have enough space for a full-body mirror that stands on its own you can put it up on your door. This way it will not take up any space and you can enjoy the benefits of it.

Tip: don't be ashamed to bring your favorite stuffed animal with you. It may help you sleep better at night and take away homesickness.

Small things not mentioned but make a huge impact: bonnet, throw pillows.



A mini-fridge will work just as well as a big fridge. Just make sure that the fridge has an ice department.

Stove or hot plate

Having take out every night is not what college or university will be like. And eating out every day probably also isn’t in your student budget. As you may refuse to eat the cafeteria food you can make your own. Yes, ramen noodles are quick and easy to make but you’ll grow tired of it. Therefore you will need a stove or hot plate if this isn't already provided. Especially when your dorm room is off-campus.

Pots and pans.

Fortunately, as a student, you don’t have to serve a 5 meal course every day. Therefore a few pots and pans are sufficient.


Obviously, the microwave is too heat up food. Which you can also do in a pan but a microwave is way faster and easier to use. So if you have the space for a microwave you should get one.


A toaster is optional. But if you can’t live without toast or Poptarts it turns into a musthave.

(Electric) kettle

And for the days that you don’t have time or aren’t excited to cook, you can use your (electric) kettle to boil the water for your ramen noodles. Yes, real student food. Besides that, you can also make your own tea and coffee which saves you a trip to Starbucks and some money.

Plates, cups, and cutlery

Don’t buy paper or plastic plates as they are bad for the environment. But you already knew that. Yes, it’s easy to use and throw away instead of doing the dishes but doing the dishes isn’t so bad. Besides that, it is cheaper to buy actual plates, cutlery, and cups.
Of course, you can use plastic or paper cups when you’re throwing a party for your fellow students. But for daily use, it’s definitely a no go.

Small things that make a huge impact: Paper towels, dishwashing soap, dishwasher sponge, dishwashing gloves.

Study corner


You will need a place to write your essays and make your assignments. Yes, it’s comfortable doing it on the couch or even in bed but nothing beats a desk. You don’t need an expensive, big and fancy desk. It would be nice but it’s not necessary. A simple folding table will actually do. At least if you want to get some serious work done and graduate on time! Yes, you should already prepare for graduating even in freshman year. As your freshman year will most likely set the tone for your college or university career.


Of course, you will need to have a good chair to go with your desk. You do need to spend some extra money on a good chair. In this case, a folding chair will not work.

Bulletin board / Whiteboard

As you’re in college or university your mom can’t help you remember everything that you need to do. Therefore you should put up a bulletin or whiteboard. Then you can write things done, stick post-its or flyers on it. And remember all the important stuff.



Make sure you have different size towels. Big ones, medium-sized ones and small ones. And one of all is not enough.

Tip: buy dark colored towels. It’s harder to see stains on them.


If you’re not a fan of fungus you should wear flipflops in the shared showers. You may think that this is not necessary as (almost) everyone in college or university is an adult. But being an adult does not equal having proper hygiene and being clean.


Walking around with just a towel around your waist is cool in movies. In real life, you should wear at least a robe.

Washcloth / Lufa

These speak for themselves. Make sure you have multiple.

Shower cady

Caring all of your stuff to the shared shower will be much easier with a shower caddy.

Shower curtain

If you have your own shower off-campus you may need a shower curtain depending on if it's being provided.

Small things that make a huge impact: toothbrush, toothpaste, toothbrush holder, shower gel, soap, (hand)sanitizer, toilet paper, shaving cream, razor, body lotion, deodorant, shower cap, and bathmat.

Laundry room


When you’re renting a bedroom or staying in an (on or off-campus) dorm room you may need to share a washer. If you don't like sharing you may want to look into a mini washer. It's small, fast and easy to use. As you can just hook it up to your sink. Besides that, it's also cheaper than going to the laundromat every day.

Laundry bag / Laundry basket

Depending on what you prefer you should get a laundry bag or laundry basket. Sure you’ll have a chair that will be buried under clothes. But a laundry bag or laundry basket is a musthave.

Drying rack

Buying a dryer is a big expense for a student. Besides that, it takes up a lot of space. That’s why you should use a drying rack. They come in different sizes and even ones that you can hang at doors or the heater. Which is also a good alternative for a regular drying rack if you don’t have a lot of space.

Small things that make a huge impact: laundry detergent, fabric softener, stain remover.

Living space

Whether you have a full living room or a living space you can make it a cute and comfortable place to hang out.


A couch speaks for itself. Mae sure to not get a couch that's too big as you will want to have space for other stuff. If you don't have space for a couch then you could also consider some beanbags.


This could be a small coffee table or a bigger table. Make sure that the table you choose fits with your lifestyle. For example, a glass table looks chic and sophisticated but requires you to be more careful.

Garbage can

Nobody likes a filthy living space. Buy small garbage can that you can hide in the corner.


First aid kit

College and university days and nights may get very wild. Think about all the parties, raves, protests and more. You never know what will happen. Therefore you should always have a first aid kit in case of an emergency. Even if it's just a small one.


If the lights go out in your dorm room you will need a flashlight. It's as easy as that.


No these candles are not for a romantic night. They basically have the same purpose as the flashlight. If you’re going to use candles for fun though make sure that they aren’t standing near or on something flammable. And don’t forget to blow out your candles when you’re going to sleep or leaving the room. Yes even if it's just for a second!

Tip: Scented candles will leave your dorm room smelling great.

Fire extinguisher

Make sure there is a fire extinguisher. There should be one in the hallway whether you’re living on or off-campus. If there isn’t a fire extinguisher available you should ask for one as it’s mandatory and a live saver.

Extra Tips and Tricks

Search for deals

If you're low on funds you can buy second-hand stuff. Search on eBay, Craigslist and your local newspaper for deals. Or ask your friends and family if they have stuff that they don’t use anymore. Outlets are also great places to find sweet deals.

Ask permission

Before you make holes in the walls ask if it's okay to do so. At times it’s not allowed and you’ll receive a fine for this when you leave. If you don't cover them. Especially, when you're renting a room or apartment off-campus.
The same goes for painting the walls. Ask if it's okay to paint the walls a different color. If you already know that you're staying there for just one year ride out the color on the wall. There's no need to paint it and cover it again. Unless you don't mind the extra work.

Don’t buy stuff that you don’t need

Your dorm room will not be big (even if it's off-campus) therefore it will make no sense to fill it with stuff that you’re not going to use. Besides, that as time goes by you will fill your dorm room with a bunch of stuff that you're not going to use anyway. So you might as well leave space for it now.

And most important of all have fun decorating your dorm room. Don’t go over your budget but buy stuff that you like. Seek inspiration online and in real life. Switch it up as many times as you want. Do whatever you need to do to be comfortable and feel at home.

© 2019 Kimberly Martis


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