Dorm Room Survival Essentials

[ 4 ] August 5, 2010 |

Moving into a dorm is a big change. It’s probably going to be the first time you live away from home, and it’s now 100% up to you how to juggle studying, social activities and sleep. There are a number of things you’ll learn along the way, but having lived in a dorm myself for a year, I’ll let you in on a few dorm room essentials that will keep you from sinking your first week away.

Decor & Personal Property

So, what do you need in a college dorm room? Bedding. Most rooms don’t have bedding included, so you have to bring your own. Two bottom sheets, two top sheets, a comforter and a few blankets will do, but I recommend a mattress pad, too, because the mattresses provided are rock hard. If you absolutely must bring more, put them in clear containers and store them under your bed to save space.

Bringing a good lamp is also smart. Dorms have this awful track lighting that feels like it’s burning your retinas if you keep it on too long. A nice desk lamp gives you enough light to study, while creating a cozy space rather than a jail cell.

I strongly recommend picking up a small rug, too. Dorm floors are often cold and uncomfortable (not what you want to step on first thing in the morning), and an accent rug will help make your room feel more cozy.

As much as you’d love to bring your good watch and diamond graduation necklace with you, keep it at home. Unfortunately, you don’t know the people you’ll be living with yet, and you never know what shady things people may do. If you have to bring these items, use a box with combination lock.

Sad, but True

I really don’t want to focus on the negative (dorm life is awesome, really!), but there are a few things you’ll need to bring to save your sanity. Here is a list of what you need for your dorm room (unfortunately):

  • Mouse Traps. Our little friend somehow got up to the 6th floor and started playing with my shoelaces. *shiver*
  • A Fan. If you can’t control the temperature in your room, be prepared when they turn the heat on early. Like, in September.
  • A Computer Lock. You never know if you or your roommate will accidentally leave the door unlocked, so play it safe and get a laptop or tower lock.
  • Ear Plugs & Blackout Mask. Oddly enough not everyone in the dorm has a test tomorrow morning and a game of hallway hockey sounds much more intriguing to them. Night-night, hooligans!
  • Shower Shoes. Don’t even THINK about putting even your baby toe in that shower without protection. A cheap pair of flip flops is all you need to keep your feet safe from…well…whatever is in THERE.
  • A Shower Curtain. ‘Cause who knows the last time the one they left you was cleaned.
Social Fun Stuff

It may not be living in luxury, but dorm life is an amazing experience for your first year in college. Use Week 1 for making friends. Try to get out to a few frosh events for your dorm, and make the rounds on your floor. The common area is also a great place to meet people, so bring a deck of cards and find a partner. Buy a dry erase board and put it on your door so visitors can leave messages when you’re not around. Buy a small coffee machine so you can not only save yourself $5 every day but invite others over for some java. Whatever you do, don’t be shy and just say hi. Remember: everyone is in the same boat as you and probably just as nervous. Have fun!

What to Buy

All items are from Target and can be purchased with our coupon for $5 off orders over $50.


Clockwise starting at the top left: Room Essentials Double Shade Desk Organizer Lamp (Green), $12.99; Holmes Tower Fan (White/Black), $39.99; French Vocabulary Shower Curtain, $20; pB Eye Mask Set, $19.99; Sunbeam 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, $18; The Board Dudes Magnetic Dry Erase Board, $4.29

Category: school shopping tips

About Lindy: Lindy started writing at age 8, when she completed her first story entitled Clio the Talking Cat. Fast-forward a few years into the future, and she’s happily moved on to writing celebrity shopping and frugal posts. Lindy lives with her cat (who doesn’t talk), enjoys lazy weekends at the cottage and old episodes of The Golden Girls. View author profile.

Comments (4)

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  2. Shannon says:

    Love these tips! Shower shoes are key! Even the thought of stepping into a dorm shower without some sort of protection gives me the willies!

    And good call on the blackout mask. Not just to block out the hooligans, but also for when your roommate decides to wake up at 6:00am every morning and turn on every light in the room to get ready!!! ….ahhh memories.

  3. Shayna says:

    Good list! I noticed some people suggest bringing white noise CDs to help drown out hallway noise, too.

    I went to UNLV (zero rain), and my roommate and I were both from rainy places, so we bought a rain and thunder CD (slightly embarrassing, but whatever). We fell asleep to it often.

    Target usually has all of those nature type CDs for cheap.

  4. Cristina says:

    Awesome tips! And although your mouse friend gave you the shivers, at least he was innocently playing with your shoe laces rather than eating a hole through your box of Lucky Charms cereal! THAT would have been devastating!

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