What Should I Bring To College? Dorm Essentials Every Student Should Pack

Oh, the first day of freshman year — an incredible day, indeed. I arrived at my shiny new Pennsylvania college knowing what I needed to bring to college with every last thing on my list of dorm room essentials covered. My parents helped me unpack all of my necessary college items, and when they finally left to start the six-hour drive home, I crawled under my new floral comforter and cried like a pathetic wimpy baby. Did I say incredible? I meant psychologically stunting.

Kidding — it’s not that bad, but to everyone moving away this year to start college dorm life, fair warning: The whole process has the ability to leave you feeling totally uprooted. You’re starting over in a new place with no one you know, you’re expected to coexist with a total and complete stranger who sleeps a mere six feet away from you, and for many of you, it’s the first time you’re living without your parents.

That’s why it’s imperative to make sure you have all the college and dorm room essentials. If you’ve got all your bases covered, from organizational items to desk accessories, the whole transition will be a hell of a lot easier, and even if you sob your eyes out on the first day (almost everyone does), you’ll be rocking the college life in no time.

(Psst! Check out the Amazon Prime Student discount for free two-day shipping.)

Get A Mini Fridge That's Not An Eyesore

Cooluli Mini Fridge Cooler , $43 (Was $54), Amazon

If you want a way to keep sodas ice cold without taking up space in an already-crowded dorm, this super tiny mini fridge is an excellent solution. It also has a heating pad to keep meals warm if you choose, and it works as soon as you plug it in. Reviewers are saying it's a great pick because of how easy it makes traveling, as you can plug it right into a car's cigarette lighter.

Cover All Your Dorm-Cooking Bases

8 Piece Travel Meal Kit, $19 (Was $28), Amazon

I mostly ate at the dining hall, but my freshman dorm had a tiny kitchen that anyone on the floor could use; while I didn’t cook often, I did need plates every once in a while. This 8-piece travel meal kit was originally created for camping, but because the included utensils, cup, bowl, plate, and cutting board all fit inside a small waterproof SnapBox, you’ve got a convenient way to store your kitchenware. They’re also BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, and microwave-safe.

Save Counter Space In A Tiny Kitchen

Umbra Joey Kitchen Soap Pump, $14, Amazon

This clever little soap bottle contains space to store your scrubbing sponge — keeping the wet mess contained and off your counter. Users are saying it hold twice as much soap as their other decorative dispensers, and its sturdy weight keeps it from toppling over.

Get Your Twin XL Sheets

XL Twin Sheet Set , $33, Amazon

This microfiber sheet set will brighten up any dorm room, and the special breathable material won't ball up or get wrinkly after a good night's rest. Snap up the same set of sheets in pink, too. One reviewer even said, "I can't get over how soft and luxury like they feel. The quality is the best you can get. I would easily pay times ten the price for sheets like these."

Ensure Your Dorm Bed Won't Have You Tossing All Night

Sleep Innovations 2-Inch Memory Foam Twin XL Topper, $60, Amazon

Hate to be the one to break this to you, but dorm mattresses are uncomfortable. With a cushy topper that places two inches of plush memory foam between you and your college's old mattress, though, you can sleep comfortably on you back, side, or stomach all through the night.

Power Everything In Your Dorm Room

Safemore Smart Power Strip, $31 (Was $59), Amazon

If you’re lucky, you might have one outlet in your room that’s yours and yours alone. That’s why it’s a great idea to invest in an awesome power strip, like this Safemore smart power strip. It has eight outlets, four universal USB ports, a six-and-a-half foot cord, and a built-in circuit breaker to keep your dorm safe, well-powered, and organized.

Late Riser? This One Gadget Gets Your Mornings In Gear

Alarm Clark & Charging Station With Radio , $8, Amazon

If you're really not a morning person, that before-class morning routine can feel pretty tough. Make it easy on yourself with a gadget that plays your favorite tunes via aux cord until you fall asleep using its timed 'Sleep Function' setting, in addition to waking you up in the morning with the alarm. If you're more of a radio person, this dual speaker station has that, too.

Keep Your Netflix Sessions To Yourself

Amazon Basics Lightweight On-Ear Headphones , $15, Amazon

These best-selling on-ear headphones will be your new best friends come move-in day. Not only do they cancel outside noise so you can hear everything clearly, but your roommate will appreciate you keeping your noise to yourself.

Make Sure Your Valuables Are Always Secure

Lock and Roll Underbed Personal Safe , $60, Amazon

College is when you finally start to resume a little more responsibility — and that includes keeping track of important documents like your passport, birth certificate, and even valuable jewelry pieces. Don't assume your dorm room is as safe as your bedroom back home: Not only will this portable safe make sure you always know where these important items are (under your bed!), but its sturdy steel cable will keep curious hands out.

You'll Be Writing Papers, And Papers Need To Be Printed

HP Deskjet3633 Compact Wireless Printer, $70, Amazon

You'll be writing plenty of papers once school starts, and it's an incredible pain to trek to wherever your school's printing lab is to get the job done — especially if you tend to wait until the last minute. Set your room up with a color printer equipped with scanning capabilities to keep the stress levels as low as possible. Plus, this printer even has a 'quiet mode,' which your napping roomie will thank you for.

Stay Cool In September and May

Opolar USB Mini Table Fan, $14 (Was $40), Amazon

If air conditioning isn’t a thing in your building (and it usually isn’t), things are going to get hot at the beginning and end of the semester. This Opolar USB mini table fan works great for your desk or nightstand, because it’s small, quiet, has a 360-degree adjustment, and works with a USB plug, so staying cool (whether you’re sleeping or studying) becomes ultra-convenient.

You Spill Stuff, So Have This Hand Vac At The Ready

Black and Decker Dust Buster Hand Vac , $62, Amazon

This dust buster is a great one because it holds a charge for up to 18 months, and there are no messy cords to worry about tangling up. It'll take up less room in your dorm than a traditional vacuum, and the hand vac can definitely handle the wayward snack spill every so often.

Make Your Shower Trips As Efficient As Possible

J. Cotton Bath Wrap (Adjustable), $26, Amazon

If you're one of the many college students embarking on that communal shower life, you'll quickly realize the importance of getting in and getting out of there real quick. A speedy velcro shower dress means no wardrobe malfunctions en route, and you won't have to worry about carrying your towel in and out because you'll be wearing it.

Keep All Your Shower Essentials In One Place

Mayin Mesh Shower Caddie, $10 (Was $36), Amazon

For a quick and easy journey to the public showers, there’s this Mayin mesh shower caddie. It dries fast to prevent the growth of mold or mildew, and it has eight side pockets and one huge pocket to hold everything from your towel to your shampoo bottles. Reviewers say it’s durable, easy to hang, and allows for tons of space, so pair this one with some flip-flops and you’re ready to go.

Keep The Garbage Smell Inside The Garbage

Simplehuman Step Trash Can , $42 (Was $50), Amazon

You won't realize how important your trash can's design is until you're living on top of your roommate (and their stinky two-days-old leftovers). This one's foot pedal opening will keep you from getting gross stuff on your hands, and there's even a five-year warranty.

Get Your Self-Sufficiency On

Stanley 65-Piece Tool Kit , $37, Amazon

Hanging a picture? Putting together Ikea furniture? Fixing your bike? Whatever it is, this tool kit has you totally covered. Plus, this is the kind of thing you don't realize you need until right in the moment. Step into adulthood and self-sufficiency with this trusty sidekick.

Hide Your Clutter And Personalize Your Organization

StorageManiac Stackable Storage Cubes, $60, Amazon

To avoid any and all space issues, organize your dorm with these StorageManiac stackable storage cubes. You can stack them however you want or need to save room in closets, on shelves, or under a bed, and because they’re durable and opaque, you can store everything from shoes and clothes to books and toiletries, while hiding all the clutter.

Prepare For The Dreaded Laundry Day

Collapsible Pop-Up Laundry Hamper , $23 (Was $30), Amazon

Laundry is a biggie when you move away to college. Not only can dirty clothes clutter up your room real quick, but you’ll probably be lugging things to and from a shared laundry room. This collapsible hamper is strong, sturdy, and fits easily in any closet, has handles for easy carrying, and collapses when it’s not in use to save some extra room.

Don't Just Pile Shoes In The Closet

Pro-Mart Carousel Organizer , $15 (Was $20), Amazon

Piling shoes on top of each other is no way to treat those heels you spent weeks saving up for. This carousel respects the fact that you don't have a ton of closet space, while still making it possible to organize footwear and other accessories in a tidy way

Maximize Your Closet Space With Slim Hangers

AmazonBasics Velvet Suit Hangers, $22, Amazon

These might look like your average hangers, but given that space is never particularly plentiful in a dorm, AmazonBasics velvet suit hangers could just save your wardrobe. They’re coated in a velvet material, so your clothes absolutely will not slip into a heap on the floor, and because they’re durable, ultra-slim, and uniform, they give you twice the amount of space in your dorm room closet.

Write Your Plans On The Wall, And Never Miss A Deadline

RoomMates Days of the Week Chalkboard Planner, $11, Amazon; SuperChalks Color Liquid Chalk Marker Pens, $13, Amazon

Staying organized during college is key, and this RoomMates Days of the Week chalkboard planner makes it easy. They stick right onto any wall, so you can visibly plot out your week — homework, assignments, classes, appointments, whatever — and at the end of the year, they peel right off without a sticky residue. They go wonderfully with these SuperChalks chalk marker pens, which come in eight vivid colors that can be used on chalkboards, glass, mirrors, and metal.

A Floral Journal For Keeping Notes

Rifle Paper Botanical Journal , $14, Amazon

This pretty notebook has more than 200 blank pages just waiting to be organized with your notes.

Get Your Light On Anywhere

Lightahead USB LED Desk Lamp, $13, Amazon

This adorable Lightahead USB LED desk lamp is also ridiculously functional, as it’s small, powerful, portable, and lightweight. It’s got a swiveling neck, so you can point the light anywhere you need, and because it’s USB-rechargeable with three brightness settings and an included pen holder, it’s a great little lamp for your desk or bedside table.

Warm Up The Atmosphere In Your Dorm Room

Paper Lantern Lights, $12, Amazon

My sophomore-year roommate had these paper lantern lights strung all around our room, and let me tell you — they’re truly the easiest and quickest way to turn a dorm room from cold and uniform to warm and welcoming. This strand covers 11 feet, comes in your choice of seven different colors, has several replacement bulbs, and can be used indoors or outdoors.

Images: Fotolia (1); Amazon (25)

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