Back To School: Day One Dorm Survival Kit

Gone are the days when “school supplies” meant a new box of crayons and a spider-man lunch box. The first year of college is typically a teen’s first taste of adulthood, so in addition to making sure their bag is packed with everything they’ll need to ace their classes, you want to make sure they have what they need to make life in their dorm (relatively) comfortable too. A lot of the stuff you need for college depends on the kind of dorm you or your kid is living in, but this is a list of some things you want to remember – and a few you don’t want to forget!

Linens

JoJo Designs Deco Dot Kid Bedding Collection

JoJo Designs Deco Dot Kid Bedding Collection

This is a gimmie category, but with specifics you’ll want to keep in mind. First, check with your college to find out how big the beds in the dorms are; most are extra long twins (for extra tall college kids), which regular twin sheets won’t fit. Once you know what size bedding to buy, make sure to get both a Comforter and TWO sets of Sheets – new college students aren’t the best at doing laundry efficiently, and unfortunately drunk roommates don’t always throw up on their own side of the room, which can make a change of sheets invaluable. Also, dorm beds can be pretty ridiculously hard, so don’t forget to bring an Egg Crate and a couple pillows.

Shower Stuff

Family Shower Caddy

Family Shower Caddy

This is another one that isn’t as obvious as it seems. Sure, you want to bring your shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, towels - the stuff you have at home – but if you’re in a dorm bathroom, that might not be enough. Even if, best case, you’re only sharing your bathroom with 1-4 other people, you’re probably going to want your own Shower Caddy to keep your stuff separate and off the floor.

Blue 6 Pocket Shower Tote

Blue 6 Pocket Shower Tote

If you have the misfortune of having to use a hall bathroom, you definitely don’t want to be without a Shower Tote and a pair of shower shoes or at least water-safe flip flops. The walk down the hall is gross, and the shower floors are worse, and having a way to carry your stuff will keep your hands free to hold up your towel, as well as keep your stuff from getting stolen if you leave it in the bathroom.

Kitchen Stuff

Stainless Steel or White Compact=

Stainless Steel or White Compact Refrigerator

Unless you’re one of the rare and fortunate few that has the good luck of landing a dorm with a kitchen, you probably aren’t going to need much kitchen stuff, especially your first year. That said, having a little extra food on hand is really nice for nights you’re too busy (or lazy) to make it to the dining hall. If your college allows it, a Mini Fridge is nice, but a microwave is even better. Some of the easiest, cheapest meals you’ll make in college – from ramen to mac and cheese to popcorn – all nuke up nicely, and don’t need to be kept cold.

Functional Furniture

Purdue Boilermakers Gold Desk Lamp

Purdue Boilermakers Gold Desk Lamp

Most dorm rooms come complete with most of the furniture you’ll need – bed, desk, dresser, and chairs, usually loftable, functional, and terribly bare bones. At the very least, you’re going to want your own Desk Lamp – if the room comes with any lamps at all to supplement your overhead lights, it won’t be more than one, and if you and your roommates have different sleep schedules, a little of your own light can go a long way. As well, if you plan on having guests, you probably want some extra (compact) seating, like a Beanbag Chair or Video Rocker Chair that won’t take up too much space. A Rest Pillow can also turn your bed into a comfy laptop lounge if you feel like mixing it up.

Space Saving Organizers

Neu Home Foldable Hamper

Neu Home Foldable Hamper

In a dorm room, you aren’t going to have a lot of space to start. You probably aren’t going to have a closet, and other than a bookshelf, a dresser and maybe an armoire, any space you have to stow your stuff is pretty much going to be public space. A Foldable Hamper not only helps the trek to and from the laundry room, but is also nicely compact for use in your room, and collapses when it’s empty to store in almost no space at all. If you have somewhere to hang them, collapsible canvas organizers are great for giving you a lot of extra storage in very little space, and if not, under bed storage chests are good alternative if you don’t loft your bed.

Don’t Forget A Little Flair!

Dorm Door White Board

Dorm Door White Board

You can make a list of all the “essentials” you want, but it’s pretty easy to forget that on your first day in the dorm, you’re in a new place, surrounded by new people and new stuff, and that’s a pretty lonely place to be. The best cure for the Freshman blues, though, is to hang some old favorite (or new, coveted) posters or prints on your wall, or some other favorite keepsake. Most dorms won’t let you take a hammer and nail to your wall, but blue tape can hold up just about any poster and won’t damage the walls, though I’ve personally had less success with (supposedly removable) adhesive hooks. And, of course, no dorm room would be complete without a White Board on the door.

What little slice of home do you think you’ll miss the most – besides mom doing your laundry! What’s the one thing you were glad you brought to college? The one thing you wished you had – or hadn’t? Let me know in the comments!

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