Getting ready for college may be just as stressful as the college search itself. Living on your own for the first time is overwhelming anyway—add in paperwork for financial aid, packing everything into a couple of suitcases, finding a roommate, and buying everything necessary for your dorm room can add a whole new meaning to stress. But don’t worry. Here’s a list of everything you may need (or want) when you first run off to college.
Dorm room essentials
It may seem like you just need sheets and pillows to make your dorm room comfortable, but there are plenty of things you may not think about until you start unpacking.
- Sheets, pillows, blankets, etc.
- Mattress pad
- Clothing (multiple seasons if you don’t plan on going home until winter break)
- Storage items (baskets, cubbies)
- Alarm clock
- Decorations (posters, lights, pictures)
- Clamp lamp and/or desk lamp
- Command hooks or Sticky Tack/adhesive putty
- Trash can
- Small vacuum (Talk to someone in residence life to see if your dorm will have one before you lug a vacuum to campus only to not need it.)
- Bulletin board or dry-erase board
Bathrooms in college can always feel iffy, whether you have a suite-style dorm or share a communal bathroom with the whole floor.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash
- Flip-flops or shower shoes
- Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.
- Razors and shaving cream
- Shower caddy
The laundry room is famous for being one of the least populated rooms on any campus at all times (except that one day everyone runs out of socks). While it's unlikely any college student will be adamant about washing their clothes, you still need whatever laundry items necessary for the rare occasion you actually do laundry. You also won’t have the hassle of lugging home bags of clothes for mom to wash every few months (and she’ll love that).
- Laundry basket
- Quarters (if necessary—you may be able to pay with your student ID, or laundry might be included in your fees)
- Fabric softener
- Dryer sheets
- Lint brush
- Tide To Go pen (for quick fixes!)
Cafeteria food isn’t always the best, so sometimes you may want to just eat in your dorm. Not every college allows appliances like microwaves or toaster ovens, and other colleges have dorms with a shared kitchen. Make sure to check your college’s website, talk to residence life staff, and see what your roommate is bringing before investing in any kitchenware, especially something large and/or expensive like a minifridge or coffee maker.
- Toaster oven with small pan
- Water filter pitcher (like a Brita)
- Coffee maker
- Reusable water bottle
It's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of decorating your dorm, but it's also important to remember certain items like legal documents or your social security card.
- Important documents (birth certificate, financial aid documents, insurance cards, etc.)
- Prescription medications (and prescriptions for them)
- Lock box to put it all in
The relaxing feeling of summer always seems to dwindle after seeing the back-to-school Target commercials. Shopping for supplies can either be the worst or best feeling. Regardless of what emotions you have, it's important that you get everything you need for a successful school year!
- Pencils, highlighters, pens, etc.
- Stapler and staples
- Hole punch
- Laptop case
- Printer, printer ink, and paper (if you don’t want to print at the library)
Here are a few extra things you might need that won’t take up too much room in your dorm.
- First aid kit
- Board games
- Bug spray
- Trash bags
- Surge protectors
- Bike and bike lock
There’s a lot of stuff to remember, but luckily places like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Dorm Co have bundles with (almost) everything you need to decorate your room for a discounted price. You may need more or less stuff when you settle into your second home, but this is just to get you started, If you want more information for a specific college, most have a list of recommended items to bring on their website. And definitely check your school’s residence life page to see what items are banned from the dorms!
Learn more about what to expect from living on campus and in a dorm in our Student Life section.