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The College Freshman’s Guide to Dorm Room Shopping

My college dorm room a few years ago

I remember the summer before my freshman year at college; I was obsessed with shopping for my dorm room. My favorite color is green, so naturally my room exploded with every shade of the color. Shopping for a college dorm room can be fun if you love to shop…like me. But it can also be a huge hassle because there is so much to get. The important thing to making your shopping trips as smooth and efficient as possible is organization. Here’s a quick college checklist of the things you need, want and probably could live without.

Sleep Stuff

Although you might not get much sleep in college, it’s important to be prepared for the nights that you do.  The beds in dorm rooms are typically extra long twins, so make certain you get the right sheets. Most stores will have a “Back to College” section where you can easily find this size. You’re also going to want a mattress pad with a little cushion so that your bed doesn’t feel like a rock. Some extra blankets are good for those nights that are chilly, or if you want to cuddle up while you study. A Snuggie is cool—but someone who isn’t me might tell you they aren’t necessary. Get a few pillows—if you ever sit in your bed with your laptop or reading, pillows will keep you comfortable.  It’s all about comfort when it comes to endurance for late night cramming. Something you probably don’t need is a bed bug protection sheet. Although it’s slightly anti-sleep, an alarm clock is necessary. I had a pretty good set up—I was in a lofted bed, but my iHome was down on my desk, so I used a remote to hit snooze all morning. But it was a bummer for both my roommate and myself when the remote fell off!

Study Time

Studying is what college is all about right? Nothing makes me want to study more than a legal pad and fresh pack of my favorite pens.  Your biggest expense will probably be a laptop, but it should last you all four years (just don’t spill tomato soup on yours like I did).  Get some folders and notebooks so you can keep your work organized. Desk organizers are helpful too—you wouldn’t want your spectrum of highlighters to be out of place. Getting to class involves a lot of walking, so a good backpack is crucial. Get one that has good shoulder support and maybe some back padding. You won’t ever get home and say, “Wow, I wish I had a less comfortable backpack.” A printer is useful, but sometimes it’s easier just to use the computer labs on campus—that way you don’t have to worry about paper and ink. Get two or three USB drives because they are really easy to lose.


Whether you have one in your own dorm room or share a community bathroom, you are going to need some bathroom stuff. If you will be traveling to the shower, get a handy carrying case for all of your shower supplies. Get lots of towels too, this will help minimize the amount of time you do laundry. Think about getting a robe too—this will limit the times you have to streak back to your room.

Clean Up

It may take a few weeks to realize nobody is picking up after you anymore. But then, come time for final exams, you will all of a sudden be motivated to clean everything (anything to put off studying). You should check to see if the dorm you will be staying in has an accessible vacuum. Even if they do, it wouldn’t hurt to get a small sweeper for your room. My grandma got me a Swivel Sweeper my freshman year—it made me lots of friends. Depending on your style of dorm, you might need more cleaning supplies. Get some all-purpose cleaner and some Clorox wipes to start off; you can always get more supplies later. Also, unless you plan on taking your clothes home to mom, get some laundry detergent (and some coins).

 Other stuff like a fan, a power strip, and Chap Stick are also good to have, but remember, you can buy stuff as you need it. If you know your future roommate, coordinate with them to split up costs of big items like TVs or futons.

I think shopping should always be fun and being organized will definitely help. Make a list of things you think you will need and go from there. Try to get stuff that will last you throughout your college career so that you don’t have to buy new stuff every year. Have fun and add your own style to the items you buy. Last—don’t procrastinate! There are thousands of other college students shopping for the same things. The sooner you get organized, the more you will have to choose from.



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