Packing and shopping for college dorm room “stuff” is probably the first and possibly the most exciting thing you’ll get to do until you actually arrive on campus in the fall. My dorm room was my first home away from home. It’s been nearly four years since I packed up my car and left for college, and I still look back on the excitement of that time, and the decoration of my room, fondly. Here are a few tips that I learned during my time in college that I think will help you create a comfortable, convenient, and well-stocked space for your first dorm. Happy packing!
Your Dorm Room Essentials
Buy a mattress topper, college mattresses are usually very hard and impossible to sleep on comfortably without a topper. If you want extra back support, a reading pillow is great to put on your bed. Along with your new quilt/comforter and matching pillow cases, an extra blanket is always great, especially if your building has central heating and cooling systems (or if your roommate is a polar bear). Bring different sized sheets, you’ll need light sheets if your building doesn’t have air conditioning like mine did. If you don’t have air conditioning, a fan is absolutely necessary. Take at least one extra set of sheets because no matter how careful you are, you’re going to spill something, likely right after you’ve finished doing all of your laundry.
Obviously you’ll need shampoo, conditioner, a toothbrush, and everything else that you use on a daily basis at home. But there’s a few extra things that you need too. Shower shoes are an absolute must, but regular rubber flip flops (or even Crocs!) will work just as well as the fancy shower shoes with the holes cut out of them. Towels, take backup for when you’re doing laundry. Buy a shower caddy: I would recommend buying a plastic one. I had a mesh one and sometimes my soap or other communal shower items (ew) would get caught in it.
You’ll definitely have a dining plan, but sometimes you’ll just want to eat a meal in your room. You’ll also want a place to keep snacks. If your school doesn’t provide one, it’s worth it to invest in a mini fridge. My sophomore year, I bought a Keurig coffee maker, and it changed my whole college experience. If I had an early class and didn’t have time to run to the dining hall, I could have some cereal for breakfast and a cup of coffee.
Bring a little something from home too.
It’s the most exciting part about shopping for college and the most unique to you. Buy a tapestry! Hang a poster of your favorite band! This will make your room feel a little bit more familiar, not just a block room among the same other block rooms.
Take pictures of your friends from home to put on your walls or your bulletin board. Add pictures of your friends that you make at school too. Last but certainly not least, string lights are your best friend. Dorm room lights are typically pretty harsh, and string lights can make your room feel way more comfortable. Speaking from experience, these string lights are the best ones. They will last you literally years.
Aside from bedding and decorations there’s a few other things you’ll probably need. Take at least one extra phone charger, even if you don’t lose yours at some point someone will use it. Extension cords are great. A desk lamp or a reading lamp for your bed is also a must have. Umbrellas are crucial, not something you think about until you need it.
Last but not least, use a planner: whether it’s on your tablet or your phone or a real paper planner, use one. Start off the semester the right way and write in all of your major deadlines and stick to it. It will save your life.
Best of luck with packing and your first experiences at college!
Leaving for college was one of the most exciting moments of my life. Embrace every emotion that comes with it: the fear, exhilaration and readiness for a new chapter of your life. Not every freshman year experience is the same, and yours will be completely your own, starting with decorating your new home.
Also published on Medium.