Heading off to college for the first time is arguably one of the scariest and most exciting times in a person’s life – the world is your oyster and all that jazz. Before you go out and conquer it, you have to have the essentials! After all, there’s no need to be nervous if you’re prepared.
This isn’t like all the other shopping lists you’ll find with every basic necessity under the sun (we don’t need to tell you that you’ll need a towel). That being said, we did find an AWESOME list of 50 questions to ask BEFORE dorm room shopping. You can find that here. I know – it’s overwhelming, but it will ensure no unnecessary money is spent (you’re welcome, mom and dad!)
Now that you’ve got all the basics out of the way, let’s move on to the really important stuff. Without further ado…the Ultimate College Dorm Absolute Essentials List:
You’ll want something reliable and lightweight since you’ll be using it every day and carrying it on your back to and from classes. I prefer Apple computers over everything else, but that’s just me.
The brand new MacBook Pro comes in either 13-inch or 15-inch. They’ve added more space and increased the battery life – so it’ll last you a long day on campus!
Apple has also upgraded the iPad – shocker! It can multitask easily, is compatible with the Apple Pencil, AND it’s super light. Add a small keyboard for increased functionality and you’re getting a steal of a deal.
*Sometimes your college bookstore will have new computers and laptops at a discounted rate for students, so make sure to check there first!
Noise Canceling Headphones
Because studying is difficult enough without overhearing everyone else’s conversations.
These things are the coolest because they come with a built-in USB that you can to charge your phone or other devices if you find yourself without an outlet nearby. Here are a couple of Amazon's best-rated!
Power Outlet Extender
The latest and greatest from the Fitbit family does everything an activity tracker should do and more. This health & fitness smartwatch lasts over 4 days! Use the on-screen workout feature to coach you through your workout, download 300+ songs AND connect your debit/credit card for easy check out anywhere that accepts contactless payments. Check out all the other features here!
Kindles aren't just for novels, you can purchase textbooks on them, too! Goodbye, sore back muscles. Digital versions are usually a little cheaper, so it's a win-win! Additionally, if you're an Amazon Prime member, you automatically have access to over 600,000 books that you can borrow for FREE. There's also a nightlight function, so you won't keep your roommate up during late-night study sessions!
Anyone who has been in college knows that getting sick can ruin your whole agenda. The assignments will continue and your professor won’t push back your test day. It’s best to take all the precautions, and that includes sanitizing your dirty phone each day in case it picked up any harmful bacteria from that kid sneezing next to you in Sociology. *Bonus* it comes in 7 different colors! Check it out!
The college dorm storage situation is notorious for being a little frustrating, so this is a big one. With so little space to work with, you’ll want to make sure you maximize what you have available. Your spacing options will vary by dorm, so make sure to either check out the dorm before going shopping or make sure to keep your receipts!
This one is neat because you can put it over your bed, or a small desk! It has two spacious shelves AND you can clip a lamp to the sides (hello, more desk space!)
Store and protect items you aren't currently using, like extra sheets or that puffy winter coat! Every inch of space counts! The sky's the limit here with these roomy storage bags.
Nightstand 2.0! With 4 wheels and 3 shelves, not only is it easy to maneuver but it holds a lot. Store towels, your electronics, an alarm clock, your favorite treats, a small bedside lamp...you get the idea. Target is full of awesome college essentials like this!
I think I mentioned that space is limited, didn't I? ;) That's why a collapsible hamper is crucial! When you aren't using it, you fold it up and you barely see it. It's also lightweight, so it'll be easy to carry to the laundry room. You also won't have to worry about the durability, because this one, in particular, was designed for heavier general objects as well - like a basketball!
“I never would have thought of that!” (My favorite category)
The big kind! This will really come in handy, whether it's keeping track of tests and big assignments or big social events! You won't want to miss that football or game or movie in the park (buy the 3-pack if you REALLY want to plan ahead!)
You NEED these! A non-negotiable item, in my opinion. Since you'll be sharing showers with everyone else in your hall, you'll want to wear shower shoes. If you don't, you'll be exposing yourself to any number of bacteria or fungi. These ones are the best because they're made specifically for the shower, so they're breathable and antimicrobial.
While we're on the shower topic, here's another non-negotiable! You'll need this to carry all your toiletries. This essential also comes from Target and has plenty of mesh pockets for every tube and bottle you've got, plus it's spacious enough on the inside for a towel!
Self-explanatory. Accidents happen, you just need to be prepared. Here is Amazon's best selling first aid kit. It comes with all the important basics AND it's pretty small, so you don't need to worry about it taking up too much space.
If you want to add items or prefer to put your own together, here's a helpful list!
Like I mentioned above, accidents happen! If something breaks, you'll be able to fix it with this 39-piece tool set. Not to mention all the furniture you'll be putting together your first couple weeks of school as you get settled in. This one will have everything you need, comes in two different colors, AND it's a great price.
This isn’t just for drinking water throughout the day, you’ll also want it when you go to bed as well just in case you wake up needing a drink in the middle of the night. Most dorm rooms don't have a sink where you can grab a quick drink at 3 AM. The Kleen Kanteen is environmentally friendly as an alternative to plastic and keeps cold for up to 50 hours. Yes...50 hours.
That brings us to the end of our shopping list, but I couldn’t help but throw in a couple of my own tips for making sure your college experience is both beneficial and FUN!:
- Keep the peace with your roomies. I can’t stress this enough. Your home is not a home if you don’t feel comfortable in it. Learning to share a space with someone other than family is hard, so be willing to compromise and stay patient!
- Participate in clubs and campus activities. This is the best way to make friends with people you have commonalities with.
- Explore the ‘fun’ classes. It wasn’t until I graduated that I found my university offered a cooking class AND a snorkeling class, amongst others. This is a great way to break up the heavy academic courses!
- Get to know your professors. Don’t roll your eyes! Your professors are excellent resources, and your classes will be more manageable if you feel comfortable asking questions and seeking help.
- Check out the on-campus jobs! On-campus jobs are nice because most of the time they are willing to work with your schedule. You may even have some downtime in which you’ll get paid to do your homework!
Hopefully, this article left you more excited than overwhelmed about your new adventure. At least now you can rest easy knowing you’ve got all the essentials for a smooth-as-possible transition into independence. Remember us when you make it big!