For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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May 31 2015
by Alicia Sforza

21 Must-Haves for Your Dorm

By Alicia Sforza - May 31 2015

With fall fast approaching it seems as if every big department store is trying to sell you the “must-haves” for your dorm room. Going into my freshman year and having never lived without my mom always having the necessities at home, I know how confusing the process of dorm room shopping can be.

Yes, that $500 futon from Bed, Bath & Beyond would be nice, but let’s be real, you don’t need it. With different dorm checklists popping up every day, I decided it would be simpler to compile a list of the 21 most common items found on these seven different dorm checklist websites:,,,,, and

1. Bedding

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are a lot of different items we’ll need to bring to ensure the piece of cardboard, I mean dorm mattress, we will be sleeping on is as comfortable as possible. You’ll want to make sure to pick up: a mattress pad, comforter, two sets of sheets, at least two standard pillows and a body pillow.

You can find cute bedding like this Teen Vogue sheet and comforter set at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Bed, Bath & Beyond

2. Mini fridge

Having a mini-fridge in your room is necessary in order to keep snacks fresh longer and drinks at an ideal temperature.

You can even get creative when looking for a mini fridge by purchasing one like this dry-erase mini fridge from The Home Depot.


3. Bed risers

Bed risers are like a saving grace for storage issues. It’s amazing how much more stuff you can fit under your bed given three or four more inches. The bed risers shown, available at Bed, Bath & Beyond, serve a dual purpose by allowing you to have extra outlets closer to you.

Bed, Bath & Beyond

4. Eating utensils

I was somewhat surprised that this came up on so many lists, but when I thought more about it, what would be more frustrating than wanting that last pack of Greek yogurt and not having a spoon to eat it with?

5. Window panels

Whether the sun will shine right into your dorm at 5 a.m., or not, window panels are great for blocking out unappreciated sun or adding a little decorative touch to dingy dorm rooms.

6. Bulletin board or whiteboard

In all completely realistic college-based movies, it’s almost certain you’ll spot an overly decorated bulletin board in a dorm room. Bulletin boards and white boards are great for making sure no important due dates are events are missed. The bulletin board shown, available at Target, proves that bulletin boards can also add decoration to your dorm room.


7. Laundry bags or baskets

Clearly laundry bags and baskets are used to transport your clothes to and from wherever the laundry machines are located, but they are also great at keeping your clothes off the floor; therefore, making your dorm cleaner.

8. Ironing board

College is going to be filled with a ton of new experiences and opportunities, many of which will be in a professional setting. So the last thing you want is to look unprofessional by wearing wrinkled clothing. This compact ironing board is great for small spaces and is available at

9. Cleaning supplies

Being around so many people on campus and being in so many different public places, germs and viruses can spread like wildfire. Having disinfectants and cleaners on hand for your dorm can help keep you from getting sick.

10. Chip clips

Surprisingly, these can be used for more than just preserving an unfinished bag of chips. It’ll be nice to have a few of these around for whatever you may need them for.

11. Can and/or bottle organizer

It’s college — a can or bottle organizer will probably be a useful tool.

12. Storage cubes

Bed, Bath & Beyond

Storage cubes can be used to store anything from shoes to electronics and can also be used as extra seating. This storage cube, available at Bed, Bath & Beyond, shows just how versatile they can be.

13. Under-the-bed storage

Since storage seems to be a main concern for next year, it’s going to be great to be able to utilize the space beneath our beds. Not surprisingly, under the bed storage accessories have become increasingly popular. This shoe organizer, available at The Container Store, is large enough to hold multiple pairs of shoes while still being small enough to slide under your bed and keep them out of your way.

14. Coffee maker

It’s college. I don’t think I need to explain this one any further.

15. Closet organization

Extra drawers and shelves will definitely be needed next year when we attempt to take our home closets and minimize them to fit into the equivalent of a box. A hanging organizer, like this one available from The Container Store, utilizes the vertical space closets have.

16. Fan

Dorm rooms have a reputation for being either too hot or too cold with no real in between. Though some colleges provide fans for the dorms, many of them don’t and that could potentially get very uncomfortable. So pick one up before you leave.

17. Extension Cord

No matter where you are it always seems like outlets are too far away. Having extension cords on hand will help make sure all of your appliances aren’t huddled around one outlet. Some schools, however, don’t allow them so be sure you can have them in your room before you buy.

18. Surge Protector

Another problem with outlets is that there never seems to be enough. Surge protectors allow you to plug in more appliances than outlets. These are another commonly banned item in dorm rooms so check with your school beforehand.

19. Area Lamp

No matter how well lit your dorm is, being able to have a lamp that’s able to move from one side of the dorm to the other when need be is a nice amenity to have.

Unfortunately, things in your dorm are bound to break. Having a small tool kit with a few items, like a screwdriver and a hammer, can really come in handy when your desk chair starts to fall apart in the middle of finals week. This tool kit, available at Wal-Mart, is the perfect size for quick fix-ups.

21. First aid kit

The worst thing about being a person is we get hurt. Though I’m praying neither my roommate nor I will ever really have to rely on a first-aid kit, having one is always a great idea. Fill it with some essentials, such as Band-Aids, gauze pads, antiseptic ointment and Tylenol and you’re good to go. This vintage-looking first aid kit, available at, has all of the essentials we may need for our first year away.

Lead Image Credit: The CW

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Alicia Sforza - University of Minnesota Twin Cities

A freshman at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Alicia Sforza plans on double majoring in technical writing and communication with an emphasis in biology and health science, and ethics. Petting dogs, reading books, and drinking coffee occupies the majority of her time.

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