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Dorm Room Must Haves

Advice from a freshman who’s already moved into college twice.

By Anna McClean

Photo by Amanda Hess

Starting college can be daunting; on top of adjusting to a new school with new people in a new city, you also have to decide what you will need for your dorm room. You can watch all the youtube videos that the internet has to offer, but the truth is, it’s hard to really know until you actually move in.

As a transfer student who couldn’t bring all my dorm items from California to Boston, I had a do-over opportunity. So, I’ll be sharing what I chose to repurchase, and what I didn’t bother buying the second time around.

First off — a handheld vacuum is essential. Your dorm room is every room in a house built into one, so messes are inevitable even if you’re a neat person.

Second — a mesh shower caddy. I had a hard plastic shower caddy my first semester, and because of the shape I couldn’t hang it up in the shower and it had to sit on the gross, wet floor (this is your reminder to bring shower shoes).

I also highly recommend a memory foam mattress topper. I know it seems like an unnecessary purchase, but trust me, it’s a game changer. I got mine on amazon.

You want your bed to be nice and cozy, but don’t overdo it with the pillows. Room decor crazies, I’m talking to you. There’s nowhere to put them when you sleep besides the floor which is likely unvacuumed, unless you already took my first piece of advice.

Since we’re talking about don’ts, be aware that you won’t have room for a microwave and a kettle and a rice cooker and whatever other appliances you saw at Bed Bath and Beyond. Not to mention, there aren’t even enough outlets for all of that.

That brings me to my next point: get a power strip, and an extension cord while you’re at it (depending on the layout of your room). However, please please don’t plug everything in at once and blow yourself up.

If you’re anything like me and want to put art and photos on your wall, adhesive putty is your new best friend. It’s better than tape because it holds well, but won’t rip the paper when you eventually take it off.

In terms of storage, be mindful of floorspace: dorm rooms don’t have a lot of it. You want shelves that are tall and drawers that stack, rather than ones that are shorter and wider. Quite literally, use vertical thinking.

Between you and your roommate, you really only need one long/tall mirror in the room — over-the-door hanging ones are great. If you’re into skincare and/or makeup, you’ll also want a small light-up one for your desk, because that dorm room lighting will do you no favors. I got one for pretty cheap that folds closed so I can put it away when I’m not using it.

Lastly, stock up on Nyquil, Dayquil, ibuprofen — all the goods. Getting sick at school sucks, so don’t torture your future self by making it worse with the need for an errand-run.

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