10 Items No College Dorm Should Be Without

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Shopping for your dorm room accessories can be one of the most exciting aspects of moving away for college. The thrill of a fresh start in a new place, paired with the anxiety of leaving home for the first time, makes whittling down the "must haves" all the more vital. The basics, like a bed, desk and lighting, will be provided for you. But it is up to you to determine what is essential, and what you can afford to leave behind.

  1. Bathrobe - Not only will you be sharing a tiny bedroom with another person, but you will also be sharing a bathroom. With little to no privacy in your new digs, a bathrobe will provide you with the comfort and security that your threadbare towel can't provide. It will also serve as an additional source of warmth on the nights maintenance forgets to turn up the heater.
  2. Power strip - If you have ever been faced with the unfortunate task of trying to plug multiple devices into one power outlet, then you will understand the benefits of providing yourself with a power strip. You can charge your cell phone, power your computer, light your desk lamp and play music, all without unplugging your roommate's alarm clock.
  3. Flip-flops - For the sake of sanitation, flip-flops are great idea for dorm living. Since several people will be using the bathroom in a day, it's a good idea to make sure you protect your feet from the shower floor. Although most dorm bathrooms are cleaned multiple times a day, it is better to be prepared. They're also great for running across the courtyard to get yesterday's lecture notes, or down to the cafeteria to grab a quick bite to eat.
  4. Air freshener - Chances are that someone is going to burn popcorn in the hallway microwave, or accidentally forget to remove their leftovers from the refrigerator. Since most colleges have a no-candle policy, it's a good idea to keep a bottle of odor neutralizing air freshener on hand to cover up any unpleasant odors.
  5. Tool kit - Your dad won't be on call to fix the jammed gears on your bike or to help twist the faucet with the broken handle. Having a tool kit, loaded with the essentials, will make the repairs run smoother. A pair of pliers, a screwdriver, a hammer and a roll of duct tape should be enough to cover your bases. If you're prone to tears, then it wouldn't hurt to also throw a sewing kit into the mix, for any emergency mending.
  6. Fan - For the most part, your dorm will be a temperature-controlled sanctuary. On the occasions that you find yourself starting to sweat through the night, though, break out your fan. You can mount it on your night stand, or leave it plugged in on the floor. Regardless of the location, you'll be thankful for the breeze.
  7. Mini fridge - Some schools don't allow their students to bring their own appliances due to dorm-wide safety regulations. If your school doesn't have a policy like this, then it is a good idea to invest in a mini refrigerator. You can store snacks, beverages and quick alternatives to breakfast. Some schools regulate the size of the refrigerators allowed in dorm rooms, so consult your student handbook or an online list of dorm policies before you make your purchase. Most students sell their mini refrigerator when they move out of the dorms, so it is a good idea to try and purchase one second-hand from another student to save money.
  8. Over-the-counter medication - If you've ever woken up on the sick side of the bed, with no quick fix or readily available relief, then you understand the importance of a well stocked medicine cabinet. You just need the basics: aspirin, cough syrup, cough drops, antacid and a traditional first aid kit. This will save you from an unnecessary to trip to an off-campus drug store.
  9. Dishes - Regardless of whether you've signed up for an on-campus meal plan, dishes are a wise addition to any dorm room. They will prove themselves handy if you order takeout, or choose to eat a quick meal before class. You don't need a full dining room set, though; two of each item should suffice.
  10. Something that reminds you of home - Although the first year of college is a time of independence and personal growth, all students feel the occasional pang of homesickness. Have at least one sentimental reminder of home or family on hand to ease yourself into your newfound freedom, but don't bog down your dorm with the trappings of home. You don't want your belongings to smother you, and you don't want to risk a roommate accidentally throwing away something of emotional value.

Moving away to college should be one of the proudest and most exciting experiences of your life, so have fun with it! Make a shopping list, and research the best prices online before you hit the stores. Infuse your dorm room with your personality, so that it truly feels like your home away from home.

Last Updated: July 22, 2011
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About Chanti Burnette Chanti was a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com.

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