Classes start soon for so many college freshmen across the country. I remember in the last week of summer before I packed my bags and headed off to my dorm at Mizzou, a million things were rushing through my head. I double and triple-checked a list I made, compiling every product that articles on the Internet told me I would need to survive, and stay organized, in my new home: a dorm room that I shared with one other person, and a community bathroom that I shared with a floor-full. I took numerous trips to Target, Walmart, and Bed, Bath and Beyond trying to prevent myself from winding up in a new city, in a new state without an essential. Navigating campus was enough of a struggle for me at the time, and I didn't want to have to try to search for a Walmart on top of searching for my American History class.
I soon discovered, along with my roommate and my other friends in the dorms, that half of the "dorm essentials" that you're convinced to invest in are completely useless after you pack up your things and (finally) move into your first house or apartment. From shower caddies to those trusty flip flops that protected your toes from the disgusting unknown on public shower floors, these items will serve you well for about one year — but one year only.
1. Bed risers
Risers are great for clearing room under your XL twin-sized bed to store your bins of winter clothes, not to mention the high school T-shirts that you insisted on bringing with you but ditched after you realized that high school is over, for real. And that's probably a good thing. Let it go. These $20 bed risers from Bed, Bath and Beyond are hilariously shaped like Red Solo cups, but don't expect your investment to be useful after freshman year.
2. Shower curtains for your makeshift closet
If you're lucky, you'll have an actual closet in your dorm. I traded a fancy new dorm for the option of an older dorm with real closets, more room, and proximity to campus. Trust me: the fancy common spaces in the newer dorm buildings don't compare to the extra personal space and more time spent sleeping in that come with older buildings. My friends in the newer dorms all hung sheets or shower curtains over the cubby holes they called their closets. Sure, you could reuse this $90 shower curtain from Urban Outfitters, but trust me, you won't want to after seeing it all year long.
3. Flip flops for the shower
When you leave the dorm, you'll have a shower more closely monitored by you. Until then stock up on some plastic flip flops from affordable places like Old Navy — this pair is only $2.50). Don't bother with overly impressive designer flip flops. It's not worth it. When you move out, you won't have to slip and slide in flip flops anytime you want to wash your hair. Only downside? Now you are responsible for cleaning those shower floors. It's worth it.
4. Shower caddy
These are a lifesaver so that you can hold up your towel while running from your room to the showers without having to juggle bottles of shampoo, shaving cream and body wash. Definitely make it a point to get one with a good handle that you can drape over your arm, like this $10 one from Target. But once you get a normal bathroom outside of the dorms, you can comfortably keep your favorite products in the shower where they never have to drip water across your tile floors.
5. Personal fridge
These things are actually so annoying. To be honest, I didn't even really need one when I lived in the dorms, much less once I got out of them. They're small, cramped, and don't even keep your things very cold. They're good for storing leftovers on the rare occasion that you have them during your freshman year. More often than not though, you'll be eating at the campus dining hall and not wanting to bring anything back. Once you get a real apartment, you'll find ways to separate your own fridge if your roommates are sneaky. This $100 one from Wal-mart does, however, have a white board, which is probably the most useful thing you could turn a mini-fridge into.