A dorm room checklist for the intrepid college student

The excitement is building as you head off to college. You can expect your college or university to provide furniture basics such as a bed, desk, chair, and dresser. However, the rest of the stuff you choose for enjoyable college living is up to you. You want a space that will not only help you survive, but one that is comfortable enough so that you can thrive! Want to add a little style? No problem! Here's a checklist for everything a new college student might need for a comfortable dorm life.

First Do a Little Homework

Before you buy or pack anything, check with your college or resident advisor to see what is and is not allowed.  Many dorms have restrictions on what you can have in your dorm room.  Understand what is already provided so that you don't over buy or under pack.  Obtain specifics about your bed, your room and the bathroom.  You'll encounter space restrictions as well as general rules to help everyone get along in close quarters. This type of intel will help you make smart decisions when outfitting your new digs.

Next, if you are traveling from out-of-state, avoid the expense and hassle of bringing stuff with you. If you are traveling by air, you won't have to pay the baggage fees. Instead, just have the bulky stuff shipped from Amazon directly to your dorm. Set it up and you're done!  Amazon offers free super saver shipping on most purchases over $25, but as a student you'll also qualify for Amazon Student membership which will give you six months of free 2-day shipping.  After the free trial period, you pay $39 for a year's membership.  

What You'll Need

Your focus will be on studying and the other fun activities of college life, so it helps to get your room in order. Here are things to bring or buy to have on hand.

Toiletries and Personal Items

  • Hair and body care items- soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, razors
  • Shower caddy that hangs
  • Dental items - toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Medical items - Bring your prescription medication (and prescriptions) and eye glasses and contacts if you wear them.  It's also nice to have a first aid kit that includes bandages, pain-relievers, and cold medicine. 
  • Feminine items - cosmetics, tampons, etc. for the female college student
  • Flip flops for the shower - it's very important to have "shower shoes" to avoid germs that lurk in shared bath areas.
  • Towel wrap or robe - with space at a premium in most shared bathrooms, you might find it most convenient to use a simple towel wrap instead of bringing all of your clothes into the bathroom.

Appliances and Gadgets

  • For your study area - desk lamp, extra light bulbs, fan, and an alarm clock.  Floor lamps are convenient as they can be moved about the room.
  • For your charging station - chargers, extension cords, power strips, and surge protectors will help to keep your electronics charged and ready to go.
  • For your cooking station - Convenient if not healthy food is an important part of college survival.  Consider bringing an electric tea kettle, coffee pot or press, toaster, microwave, small refrigerator, and hot plate. But check with your dorm for any regulations or restrictions first. If you know your roommate, you might also coordinate so that you don't bring duplicate items. 
  • Wet/Dry handheld vacuum cleaner - this small appliance can help you clean little messes. Its size will allow it to be stowed out of sight.
  • Personal electronics - cell phone, iPad, e-book reader, and laptop. A wireless multi-purpose computer printer that can also scan and copy can also make life easier. Also consider bringing a long ethernet cable just in case wi-fi is weak or non-existent.
  • A fan - not all dorms have air-conditioning
  • Music/entertainment items - a TV, stereo system, or a good pair of ear phones can help you take a relaxing break from classes and studying.
  • Security items - Notebook lock and security cable, and security vault. College dorms rooms are frequented by a lot of people, and many keep their rooms unlocked.
  • Ear plugs and an eye mask if you have the share the dorm room with someone else.

School Supplies

In addition to purchasing your textbooks, be sure you have necessary school supplies.

  • A reliable school bag that's sturdy and spacious enough to fit the things you will need for a busy day on campus. As your bag will likely be heavy, it should also be comfortable to wear.
  • Writing materials - Pencils, pens, erasers, and a perhaps a stylus. Consider a pen that records lectures.
  • Stationery - printer paper, notebooks, or a notebook app for your iPad. 
  • Miscellaneous items depending on specialized courses - A scientific calculator, art supplies, computer software or other equipment as noted on your course syllabi.

Laundry, Bedding and Decor

When it comes to bedding and decor, expect to be provided with only the basics. Your dorm room is a sanctuary from the stress of class work, especially around examinations. Ensure that your dorm room provides you with respite.  Enjoy college dorm life by putting together these items to help you personalize your space:

  • Bedsheets, blankets, and pillowcases. Tips: Know the size of the mattress BEFORE you buy. Twin size mattress sizes vary in size. Mattresses in dorm rooms often require the XL twin size. Select your bedsheet fabric according to the university's climate -- cotton for warm weather areas; flannel for cold areas. Also, look for easy-care fabrics that are durable.  
  • Towels - Bring a bunch -- hand towels, bath towels, or just something to wipe up a mess
  • Clothes that are comfortable, well-fitting, and easy to care for.  Plan for the weather. Pack cold-weather clothes in space-saving bags. Seal the bags and vacuum or press the air out to save space.
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener.
  • Collapsible laundry hamper or a laundry bag to collect and transport your laundry to the laundry room or a laundromat.
  • Thin hangers since closet space will likely be minimal.
  • Milk crates - these versatile boxes are inexpensive and can be easily stacked and used for bookshelves, 
  • A memory foam mattress pad to place over an uncomfortable mattress.
  • Hang posters, message board with magnets. Display photos and inspirational quotes. Use blu-tak adhesive to mount.  It'll be easy to remove wall decor when the time comes.
  • Dress windows appropriately to either help to block the light when you are trying to rest. Use sheer fabrics to let the sun in
  • Air freshener - try Febreze or decorative bamboo charcoal.

Insights and InformationStarving Students' CookbookCredit: Amazon.com

Bring along a couple of cookbooks that will help you whip up simple meals and books that help you keep your sense of humor during challenging situations.

Check out the Starving Students' Cookbook for great recipes and meal you can make in a pinch and on a tight budget.Healthy College CookbookCredit: Amazon.com

When you are pressed for time, it's easy to eat fast-foods.  The Healthy College Cookbook can help to stay on the path to nutritious meals.

You'll be living in close quarters, so arm yourself with survival information for living a comfortable dorm life. Then things get stressful, you'll need strategies for handling dorm life annoyances.  Check out books like WTF? College: How to Survive 101 of Campus's Worst F*#!-ing Situations.WTF? College: How to Survive 101 of Campus's Worst F*#!-ing SituationsCredit: Amazon.com  You'll at least have a laugh.

Select What Works for You

Equip yourself with these items for a comfortable dorm life, and enjoy a successful school year!