A Guide to the Essentials for Dormitory Living

What should I bring to my dorm or residence? You'll need a checklist.

If you are planning to live in a dorm, also known as "in residence" or "on campus" at a college or university it cCollege Dorm(98341)an be a challenge to figure out exactly what to bring. Buying the perfect dorm gift for someone leaving home for the first time can be equally challenging.

It's time to make a list . What to pack? What to leave?

The first thing to do is take a look at what is allowed in the dorm. Some allow appliances like small fridges or microwaves. Others don't. Often it is simply a case of case of how old the residence is. Many were built decades ago, are smaller than todays dorms, and not wired for the demands of the 21st century.

Most colleges and universities will post a list on their website. It's a good starting point.

There are some dormitory basics that should be on every freshman's checklist.


Storage Solutions

A college trunk (or two) is a dorm must-have. They are also known as footlockers but they're a far cry from anything you'll see in an old army movie.College Trunk

College trunks are very versatile. They come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, perfect to slip under the bed for easy storage or displayed as a room accessory. Many come with detachable wheels so they can double as luggage for a weekend trip. They also are lockable so they're a great place to store valuables like a laptop, tablet or smart phone.

Plastic tubs are also a great storage option. They are lightweight, durable and stackable and provide lots of flexibility in small living areas.

Plastic caddies are a handy way to store bath and laundry products and easy to carry to the shower or washing machine.

Clothes hangers are basic, but are often forgotten by first time dorm residents. Invest in a couple of dozen lightweight and colorful plastic hangers.

Hanging shoe bags keep footwear organized, easy to grab and off the floor.


Dorm Decorating 101

Start with the mattress. Who knows how many years it's been since it was replaced or how many other students have slept on it? Pick up a plastic-lined mattress cover for a more comfortable and hygienic rest. It the mattress is lumpy, top it with a foamy for added support and comfort.

Pick up two sets of sheets and pillow cases in your favorite colors, along with a matching duvet or comforter.  Don't forget a pair of good quality pillows. Pack an extra blanket or throw for cold winter nights.

Include towels including at least one large, cozy beach towel, three hand towels and at least three face cloths.

Don't forget photos of friends, family and pets. A digital photo frame is a good investment as images can be constantly added.

Many dormitories have poor lighting. Bring a small lamp. It will be helpful for late night study sessions when eyes get tired. You may want to also bring a small bed or night reading light.

Artwork, posters, mementos, favorite books and stuffed animals give dorm rooms a personal feel.

A dry erase or cork bulletin board is a great way to keep track of a busy schedule. Add extra markers or push pins depending on which style is being used.

Dorm rooms may be small but with a little imagination it's easy to create a personal space even in shared accommodations.

Food and Drink

Chances are, most students will take their meals in the residence cafeteria, but it's nice to have the option of preparing a light meal or a snack in the dorm room, especially on the weekends or during exam time. How much food preparation can be done may be influenced by how easy it is to get access to an area where dishes can be washed.

If small refrigerators or microwaves are permitted in the room, consider a combination model to save money and space. They're a big help for people on a special diet.Black and Decker Personal Coffee Maker

A personal coffee maker is a valuable, but inexpensive investment. Single serving machines are convenient and quickly pay for themselves by avoiding pricey coffee shops.

Other suggested appliances include a Crock Pot, George Foreman Grill and a Magic Bullet blender.

Basic cutlery, dishes, coffee mugs, a travel mug, zip-lock bags, a can opener, dish cloths and a water bottle should be included.

Personal Care Items

Students living at home may take some of the basics for granted. There's always soap in the soap dish and shampoo in the shower.

Suddenly students are forced to buy everything and it can be costly. A gift basket with some of his or her favorites will definitely be appreciated.


  • Soap

  • Deodorant

  • Blow Dryer

  • Toothpaste

  • Toothbrush

  • Mouthwash

  • Band aids

  • Pain Reliever

  • Cold Medicine

  • Vitamins

  • Cough Drops

  • Conditioner

  • Hair Styling Products

  • Soap

  • Manicure Set

  • Razors

  • Shaving Cream

  • Moisturizer

  • Tampons

  • Sunscreen

  • Acne Control Products

  • Personal Medications

  • Makeup

  • Shower Gel

  • Deodorant

  • Blow Dryer

  • Toothpaste

  • Toothbrush

  • Mouthwash

  • Band aids

  • Pain Reliever

  • Cold Medicine

  • Vitamins

  • Cough Drops

  • Shampoo

Other Odds and Ends to Make Dorm Living Easier

People leaving for college or university aren't likely to forget their electronics. Laptops, tablets, iPhones, eReaders and cell phones are an integral part of daily life.

Make sure all the accessories are included along with extra chargers, cords and cool carrying cases. Include a power surge protector and extension cord.

Laundry supplies should include a laundry basket or bag, dryer sheets and detergent. New detergent in small individual use capsules are lightweight and convenient. Laundry bags can be customized with the student's name and college. Bring a simple sewing kit to make basic repairs like sewing on a button or hemming pants.

If the residence is in a southern college or university and/or lacks air conditioning bring along an electric fan.

Be prepared for a power outage with a flashlight and spare batteries. A wind-up alarm clock is a good backup for an electric alarm clock.

Most of the things on these lists are necessities for living in a dorm. If you are planning a present for a student who is leaving for residence make up a nice gift basket with many of the basics and include an Amazon gift card.

That is the basic list of everything you need for dorm life. Enjoy!