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9 Essential Dorm Room Items for Next Semester

Jon Fesmire | January 19, 2022 @ 7:07 AM

Congratulations on heading off to college. Once you’ve graduated you’ll miss it, so make the most of this time. Study and do well in your classes, make friends, and get used to living on your own.

Before you move into your dorm room, it’s important to know what you’ll need. This can depend on what comes with the room, what’s allowed in your dorm, and what your roommate will bring.

Once you know your future living arrangements, contact the school and ask the size of the room, what comes with it, and what the rules are. Then, contact your future roommate and get to know him or her a bit. For shared items, coordinate who will bring what. We’ll cover these and more below.


Before you pack clothes for college, consider the climate there. Is it similar to where you live now, or significantly different? For example, if you’re moving from Southern California to Boston in the fall, you’ll need warmer clothes, and you’ll definitely need warm clothes when the snowy winter blows in. Don’t bring too much though, you’ll get more while you’re there, and you need to keep in mind that dorm rooms are small.


You’ll want to bring your own bedclothes to your dorm room, including sheets, blankets, pillows, and pillowcases. Once you know what size your bed is, buy two sets that you’ll feel comfortable with and that reflect your personality.

Shower Items

Some dorm rooms have their own bathrooms and showers, while others have a shared facility on each floor. We recommend bringing your own shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, and so on. Of course, you can purchase these when you arrive at your college. If your dorm has a shared shower situation down the hall, purchase a shower caddy in which you can carry your bath items when you need to wash off.

Laundry Supplies

If you’re lucky, your dorm has laundry facilities. Otherwise, you and your dorm buddies will have to find a nearby laundromat. Whatever the case, you’ll need a laundry basket, detergent, and dryer sheets. Use the same type of sheets and detergent you’re used to at home. Sometimes, changing brands can cause an allergic reaction.

Desk and Studying Supplies

These are items you can purchase once you arrive at school, too, though if you have a favorite planner or notebook that you can get locally before you move, go for it.

Chances are your dorm room will come with two desks, one for you, and one for your roommate. If not, find out how large the room is and work out the desk situation with your roommate before you move. Will you share a desk, or each get one? What do you have space for?

Purchase pens, pencils, notebooks, and other supplies you may need that will fit on or in your desk.

Other Furniture

Your dorm room will come with beds and might come with desks. However, you’ll probably need to bring your own chair. This is another item you can purchase once you’re in the area. We recommend a comfortable desk chair rated for a high enough weight. There are comfortable models available that don’t cost any more than their lighter-weight counterparts.


These days it’s important to have a personal computer, your smartphone, and a tablet. You’ll do most of your homework on the laptop, while a tablet makes a great reading device for digital versions of school books. Your dorm should have wifi. Get a VPN on your computer and tablet to protect your data and devices, as it is possible to spy on other computers on a public wifi network. Depending on the plan, a good VPN will cost you between $2.00 and $10.00 a month.


You and your roommate will want to give the room personality. If you have a hobby like drawing or knitting, bring just the essentials so they won’t take up a lot of space. There will probably be room under your bed where you can store them in plastic bins. Bring a few pictures to hang on the walls if the dorm allows it. Alas, some don’t.


Find out what sort of appliances you can have in your room, then coordinate with your roommate so that you don’t double up. For example, one of you can bring the mini-fridge while the other brings a microwave or hot plate and coffee maker. One of you can bring a television set, too, and the other may bring a game system on which you can play games and steam shows.

Once you’ve been in your dorm for a while, you may find that you need a little extra room. Renting a 5’x5’ to 5’x10’ self storage unit can give you that room without breaking your budget. Self storage rents for less than residential space. Use it to store your off-season clothes, things you’ve bought for post-dorm life, and more. Check our listings, which span the U.S. and Canada.

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