The thought of a new year at college can be both exciting and stressful. Fortunately, you can help reduce some of that stress by putting together a checklist of college apartment or dorm essentials before you start packing.
While it’s tempting to bring everything you think might be necessary, limiting your college dorm checklist to the essentials will make move-in day (and move-out day) much easier. Keep in mind:
- The size of your dorm room
- The number of roommates
- What your roommates will be bringing (coordinate in advance if possible)
- Campus policy about what items are/aren’t permitted
Once you have those things confirmed, reference this guide on what to bring to college.
Bedding & Bath
Most dorms are furnished with extra-long twin beds, but it’s a good idea to check in with the housing department to make sure you bring bedding in the right size. Here’s what you’ll need:
Dorm room mattresses are notoriously uncomfortable since they prioritize durability. Look for a plush mattress pad to bring in a layer of cushioning.
Outfit the bed with machine-washable sheets in low-maintenance materials, such as cotton and microfiber, that are budget-friendly and easily laundered. Pro tip: Buy two sets to always have clean bed sheets handy.
A twin XL bed only requires one standard sleeping pillow, but add your own sense of style by placing an accent pillow in front of it. You can also use the pillow on your desk chair for extra comfort during extended studying sessions.
Comforters and/or Quilts or Bedding Set
Simplify dorm styling and choose a comforter— an inexpensive option that’s usually sold as part of a matching set (includes shams). On chillier nights when you can’t control the heat, opt for a quilt to stay warm.
Blankets & Throws
Give your space some added texture, a fun pattern, or a pop of color using a blanket or throw. They’re perfect for cozying up while reading or catching up on your favorite shows.
Make sure to have a few sets of hand towels, bath towels and washcloths. Additionally, a bathrobe and pair of shower shoes to protect your feet in the communal shower are college dorm must-haves.
Cute dorm rooms all have one thing in common: décor. Curate pieces that make it feel more like home and help you wind down from the day or to set the tone when friends come by to hang out. Consider bringing the following items:
Art, Wall Décor & Mirrors
Perk up your college room wall décor with framed prints and textiles. Think creatively: A decorative tapestry can double as a room divider or curtain, while a mirror instantly makes the space look larger.
Candles & Diffusers
Lavender and chamomile essential oils in a diffuser can help you relax into sleep and inspire a calming ambiance. Traditional candles that have an open flame are typically forbidden in dorms, so using a candle warmer is a safer bet.
Respect your roommate’s sleeping hours when you find yourself studying or reading late by using a personal lamp. A simple, compact light that moves around with ease fits in with any college dorm décor.
Size up the space with measuring tape to ensure you buy a rug in an appropriate length and width. Be sure to check in with your roommate to decide whether or not they’ll be bringing their own, as well.
Maximize under-bed and closet space with organizational heroes such as drawer towers and stackable bins. Smart options like storage ottomans and baskets do double-duty by livening up the room and keeping stuff contained.
Tech & Appliances
Noise-Canceling Headphones & Portable Bluetooth Speaker
A pair of noise-canceling headphones help improve focus while studying when distractions are high. Conversely, a portable Bluetooth speaker is essential for watching movies or listening to music in the dorm room or common areas.
An electric kettle is an ideal convenience for preparing quick meals and drinks, like instant coffee, ramen, and oatmeal. Be sure to check in with the resident advisor first to confirm that the dorm rules allow it before including it on your college packing list.
Keep the air moist by using a small humidifier for alleviating allergy symptoms and dry skin. Dorm rooms are typically sweltering in the winter since the heat can’t be adjusted, so a cool-mist humidifier can make breathing easier.
Other College Dorm Essentials
Desk Accessories & Stationery
Now that you’ve got your living space sorted, these college essentials will make all the difference in school.
- Planner, to divide your time and jot down reminders
- Notebook or laptop, for taking notes during lectures
- Folders to stay organized
- Wall calendar
- Sticky notes
- Pens, pencils and highlighters
- Desk organizers
Water Bottle & Travel Mug
Stay well-hydrated and focused during class by filling up a personal water bottle. Switch to a travel mug for sipping hot tea and soup on chilly days.
Books, Games & Puzzles
Bring your favorite books, games and puzzles from home, or team up with your roommate to build a collection that you both can borrow from. This is a great way to combat cabin fever during the colder months or when you’re looking for entertainment on a tight budget.
Include one on your list of college apartment essentials to help you fall asleep faster. The sleep mask shouldn’t fit too tightly yet still be snug enough so that it doesn’t come off easily with movement.
You now know everything you need to plan for a smooth transition to college. Adapt this list to housing rules and personal needs to make living on campus the exciting experience it should be.