Essentials for college dorms

Preparing for college can be daunting, especially knowing what to pack for your dorm room. This guide provides essential information on what to pack and some of the necessities for a first-year dorm room.


***New school, new stationary…**Searching for pens, senior Erin Gavin shops for supplies for her college dorm life next year. Staples offers a variety of school supplies for students including pen and agenda sets. Arrowhead Photo by Esha Bhardwaj*

There are many items to consider when packing for college, from toiletries to organization. This guide provides our recommendations on what to pack for college and where to find them.

Shower Caddy
An important item for anyone living in the dorms is a shower caddy. This will allow for easy transportation of bathroom necessities to and from communal bathrooms, and can be used to store personal items in a shared bathroom. We recommend a mesh shower caddy over a plastic one because it is flexible and dries quicker. The mesh shower caddy can be folded up and stored when not in use. Amazon carries the Attumu Mesh Shower Caddy for $10.99 and offers a variety of other options as well.

Desk organizer
It is optimal to add a desk organizer to any dorm desk for increased storage. There is also the added benefit of easy access to study materials. The compartments can be utilized for managing a variety of pens and pencils, as well as other items like Post-It notes and paper clips. We recommend the Mindspace Office Desk Organizer for $21.99 on Amazon, because it offers a way to store most stationary, including notebooks.

Bike lock
For any student bringing a bike to campus, it is critical to have a bike lock. This reduces the chances of theft, as long as the proper lock is used. We recommend a flexible bike lock that can be wrapped around the body of the bike as well as the wheel, to prevent parts of bikes from being stolen. Walmart carries the Kryptonite Resettable Combination Cable lock for $14.96 and there are also options available on Amazon, including the NDakter Bike Lock Cable for $12.98.

Sheets and bedding, mattress topper
One easy way to make your dorm room feel more comfortable is through proper bedding. A mattress topper will provide extra support and layers to a dorm room mattress. It is also important to find sheets that are the proper size for your mattress, so consult the housing information for your school to determine if you need to buy sheets in twin or twin XL. Many colleges recommend bringing no more than two sheet sets to campus. You can find sheet sets at Walmart, including the Mainstays Sheet Sets for $16.84. Bedding can also make a dorm room feel more like home, so we recommend finding a comforter or quilt for your bed. You can find options for comforters at Target, including Room Essentials Comforter for $30.

Reusable utensils
Reusable utensils are a must-have for any dorm room. A single set of utensils prevents extra plastic waste, and can be transported or packed with a lunch. We recommend the OSAMU Travel Utensils Set on Amazon for $9.99. This set comes with two straws and a set of chopsticks as well as a set of utensils, and a case to carry them in.

Plastic storage containers
Storage containers are essential for college life. They provide compact storage along with organization, fitting in closets and other areas. They allow for students to conserve space and store all different odds and ends. Stacking tier organizers are even more helpful, utilizing vertical space instead of the small and precious amount of ground space available. We believe that the Iris Large Stackable Drawers from Staples priced at $38.99 are a good option.

With the several classes that one takes as a freshman comes the overload of assignments and projects to keep track of. Agendas and calendars offer the ability to record any and all important appointments or deadlines. Students are already adapting to a technologically defined world and may be tempted to just use a reminder or calendar app on their phones. However, writing in an agenda provides a place to check engagements that are not as blue light heavy and can decrease eye strain. Also, while a professor is discussing deadlines, pulling out a phone risks looking disrespectful. We recommend smaller planners from Staples, ranging from around $7-15. Staples’ Blue Sky academic planners are perfect for both aesthetic and practical purposes.

Mini steamer
Have a job interview? A date? In order to look and feel their best, a student must have clothing options that are non-wrinkly and presentable. By using mini steamers, people do not have to worry about looking like their clothes were taken directly out of some musty corner in their closet. These tiny, on-the-go steamers are also able to take the place of an iron and ironing board which often take up precious space in a room. We recommend the OGHom Handheld Garment Steamer from Amazon that costs $16.99.

Bed risers
What can’t they do? Bed risers allow for yet more storage space which is the most coveted possession within dorms. They can even provide relief from acid reflux if a student elevates just one side using the risers. However, extra space is the main advantage here because bed legs are often short and frames are quite close to the ground. We recommend the Utopia Bedding Adjustable Furniture Risers from Amazon priced at $18. If a student has bed risers, large storage containers are helpful to use in conjunction for maximum under-the-bed storage.

Over-the-door organizers
Dorm rooms are often small. Sharing space with a roommate is difficult when both have many essentials to bring with them to college. Storing a wide variety of items, this type of organizer is most helpful in terms of freeing up floor space. It hangs on the back of a door to capitalize on space provided to store your essentials. Walmart offers a six shelf hanging closet organizer for $15.

We recommend consulting your roommate before bringing these items along with checking what items are allowed at your college. However, with at least some of these items in tow, college will be that much easier.