There are countless articles about college "necessities" that make incoming freshmen believe they need many different items for their dorms, but oftentimes these "necessities" aren't used more than once and then simply become clutter in the already-cramped dorm. Here are 10 things that you'll actually find useful in the dorms, based on my own experiences.
The mini-fridge is by far the most used item in my dorm room. Some schools require their students to rent a mini-fridge for an added fee, but most colleges allow students to bring their own. In this case, I highly suggest getting one in which the freezer is separate from the fridge, to make it easier to store ice cream and other icy treats.
A microwave and a mini-fridge actually go hand-in-hand, because you'll need a way to reheat all those cold leftovers you stored in the fridge. You can make all different kinds of dorm food with just a microwave, from instant ramen to mac and cheese to canned soup. It'll especially come in handy if you don't have 24/7 access to a kitchen and you want a midnight snack.
3. Reusable Water Bottle
Walking to class, especially when it's hot out, can get extremely tiring. There are water fountains all over campus, so invest in a large reusable water bottle that you can carry around with you all day to stay hydrated.
4. Clothes Organizer
Dorm closets are very small — if you're lucky, you might get full-sized wardrobes like my dorm did, but many of my friends in other dorms are stuck with small dressers or even just one pole in the closet to store all of their clothes. Getting a clothes organizer (either a fabric one you can hang in your closet or a plastic storage bin) for extra storage will save a lot of space.
5. Hand Vacuum
If your dorm is anything like mine, with three people living in it and friends coming in and out constantly, it will get dirty very quickly. If living in a pigsty doesn't sound very appealing to you, invest in a hand vacuum so that you can clean your room often. Plus, the small size of the hand vacuum will make it easier to reach those small nooks and crannies where dust tends to gather.
6. Power Strips
With two to three people living in a single dorm, everyone will have many electronics that need to be plugged in. There are only so many outlets in a single room, so getting a power strip (or multiple) will save you a lot of hassle from having to crawl under your desk to plug and unplug your laptop charger all the time.
7. Shower Caddy/Shower Shoes
If your dorm bathroom doesn't have shelves or cubbies where you can store your shower stuff, get a shower caddy (usually plastic, fabric or mesh) to prevent yourself from having to carry multiple containers and clothes to the bathroom every time you shower. Shower shoes will also be a lifesaver — imagine how many people have showered in that bathroom before you.
8. Shoe Rack
Most people don't think of bringing a shoe rack to college, but it has personally cleared up so much space in my dorm. With two to three people per dorm and several pairs of shoes per person, you'll find yourself constantly tripping over misplaced shoes if you don't have a convenient place to put all of them.
9. Extension Cord
Phone chargers, for some reason, are made to be very short. If you're like me and enjoy lying in bed on your phone while it's charging, get an extension cord so that you don't have to sacrifice comfort for phone usage. I suggest one that's at least six feet long so that you can bring it to lecture halls or the library and use it when the outlet is just a bit too far away. Make sure to check your dorm's fire safety guidelines, though, as some campuses don't allow them.
10. Foam Mattress Pad
It's no secret that dorm mattresses are some of the most uncomfortable places to sleep on. Invest in a soft foam mattress pad to make your sleeping experience so much more enjoyable. After I got mine, I found that I was less homesick for my own bed and that I got a much better night's rest.
Whatever items you decide to bring to your dorm, don't panic too much and think that you're forgetting something, because college is a learning experience. You'll learn throughout your freshman year what you really need and what you don't, especially since every person's wants and needs are different. Also, Amazon Student is always available if you find that you're missing a very essential item for your dorm halfway through the year. Happy dorm shopping!
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