So you’re heading to college. Congratulations! This is a huge step and not an easy one to take. It’s likely your first time being more or less independent. You’re going to have a lot more responsibility than you used to. Mom and Dad aren’t there to take care of you anymore. The first thing you’ll want to do is prepare all the stuff you’ll need in your dorm, which is why I’ve got a list of dorm essentials you need to get.

Mattress Pad

The first thing you want to get when shopping for your college dorm is a mattress pad.

Mattress pads can get a little expensive, but I swear it will be worth it. Treat it well, and you will get years of use out of one. Not to mention avoiding countless nights spent tossing and turning on janky springs.

Sleep is incredibly important for maximum cognitive function, so you want to do what you can to protect a good night’s sleep. Whether you’re ending up in bed at 9pm on the dot or crawling in at 3am for a few hours of shut-eye before that 8am morning class, you won’t want to spend hours tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable.

Some dorms may already have incredibly comfortable beds, just not any of the ones I’ve slept in.

Extra Bed Sheets

Most (if not all) college dorms make you provide your own bedding. They will provide the mattress and bedframe, and that’s about it. Which means you’ll need at least one set of bed sheets. However, your life will be surprisingly easier if you have an extra set.

According to the BBC, you should change your bed sheets at least once every other week. Ideally, you should be doing it once every week. School life can get hectic and it’s hard to keep on top of a load of laundry every single week. Putting off doing laundry every once in a while shouldn’t keep you from having clean sheets, though.

Having an extra set takes some pressure off getting laundry done and can also help you change sheets more frequently, which is why it is absolutely a dorm essential.

Power Strip/ Extension Cord

You probably won’t know the exact layout of your dorm until the day you move in, which can make planning your layout pretty tough.

To make the most of your space, it’s best to come prepared. An extension cord and a power strip will give you much more freedom than you might realize, especially when you only have a few outlets in the room and have to share with someone else.

In my college dorm, I had one outlet to use for everything. The three other outlets in the room were either taken up by my roommate or things that needed a constant power supply. Let me tell you, one outlet would not cut it for me. That’s where my power strip became my new best friend.


The light source situation in a dorm can be sketchy at best. Newer dorm buildings (quite literally built this century) tend to have more natural lighting and bigger windows.

If you’re going to a school with older dorms, you will probably want to bring at least one lamp. Older dorms tend to have a different architecture that doesn’t put a lot of importance on giving windows to every room. At least, they did in my neck of the woods.

Lamps can usually be found cheaply, and they will save you some eye strain if your dorm’s lighting is dim. String lights are also a very popular light source for college students, though not usually very bright.

Shower Shoes/ Caddy

Most dorms have communal showers. Which means you’ll probably be sharing with at least a dozen people.

No matter how clean the janitor manages to keep the place, you’re definitely going to want some shower shoes. With that many people, there will inevitably be a lot of hair and even more bacteria. It’s stuff you won’t want to be walking around on. This is why shower shoes are a dorm essential.

Shower shoes are cheap and don’t have to be the best quality to get the job done. A pair of slides is probably going to work the best. You can slip them on and off easily and won’t need to worry about moisture getting trapped anywhere.

Another bathroom must-have is a shower caddy. With a communal shower situation, you won’t be able to leave your shampoo/ conditioner/ body wash in the bathroom. Having a shower caddy is an easy place to store your shower supplies. You can also use it to carry everything between your room and the bathroom easily.

Dry-Erase Calendar

Having a calendar is surprisingly helpful for keeping track of assignments and due dates, especially when it’s a physical thing you have to write out and update manually.

There are plenty of cheap dry-erase calendars that you can use to organize and manage your classwork. Having another reminder of when that big paper worth 30% of your grade is due will hopefully help you not procrastinate until the last possible moment. Hopefully.

Calendars like this are also nice when you’re still trying to memorize your class schedule. You can write each out and add the building/ room number until you adjust to the new schedule.


Microwaves can sometimes be available through your university’s housing services. They’re also something you want to have in your dorm. Along with a repertoire of microwaveable meal recipes so you don’t have to eat out for every meal. (That gets very expensive very quickly).

You’ll want to keep an eye out for second-hand appliances in the months leading up to your new school year or buy one outright. Your college may offer a rental program where you just add an extra fee, and they’ll provide you with one for the year. Which can be nice, but the cost to rent may be about the same as buying a microwave anyway.

Whatever route you go, you want a microwave in your room. And you want to research where to find the most cost-effective model.

Mini Fridge

A mini fridge is another appliance you want in your dorm room.

It’s honestly not realistic to not have some way to keep food fresh. Even if you are eating out for every meal, you’ll have leftovers at some point. Or maybe you just want to grab some ice cream for later. You need something to keep it from spoiling, right?

Like microwaves, some colleges allow you to rent a fridge from them for the school year. The upsides are that you know their fridges comply with dorm requirements (many dorms set limitations on the size of fridge you can have), and you won’t need to cart it around between school years. The downside is that, again, the fee can be about the cost of just buying your own.

Full-Length Mirror

Having an extra mirror around doesn’t hurt when you’re getting ready for the day. Even if you’re usually pretty casually dressed, an extra mirror is very nice to have. It’s also not something you usually think about.

Admittedly, many dorms may have full-length mirrors, so you may want to hold off on getting one until you know whether or not your room has one.

Even if your room does have one, they’re usually mounted in place and cannot be moved. Having an extra that you can place wherever is kind of a luxury most people wouldn’t think about.

Comfortable Desk Chair

Gaming chairs are aesthetically great but not always the most comfortable. That’s why I recommend finding a cushy office chair with good support. You’ll probably spend a lot of time at your desk working on assignments, so you may as well be comfortable!

Even if you do most of your homework in the library, it’s still nice to have something comfortable to return to at night. After a long day of lectures and essays, you will want somewhere to unwind. 

There you have it

Those are the best dorm essentials you want to prepare for your new college life. They will make things much easier and remove some stressors nobody wants to deal with.

While you’re still doing your college dorm shopping, you’ll also want to think about what sort of decor you’re getting. A college dorm is basically a home away from home while you’re in school, which is why we’ve got some decorating tips to help it feel more like a real home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...