Dorm Room Essentials from A College Student’s Perspective



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It’s that time of the year again where parents prepare their kids for their first time away from home. I know last year I was really nervous, as I felt that I needed so much to maintain my sense of normalcy and comfort. I drove my mom crazy when we were shopping because I felt that I needed to buy everything I saw on those “Dorm Room Essentials lists”.

college dorm room essentialsWell as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and let me tell you, you really don’t need to buy everything those lists say. Like, college students don’t actually iron just saying LOL.  Of course, I was in a little bit of a different position than the average first-year college student, as I lived in an apartment, but fear not, I still had the twin sized bed, small room, limitations on what I could do in the space, etc. Now, I could just make y’all the same essential list that you get from college housing, but you already know the obvious basics (comforter, pillows, towels, etc.). Instead, I’m going to provide some insight on the extra things that you might not think about, as well as weigh in on the things you might be once the fence about. So with that being said, let’s get to college dorm shopping.

  1.  Tiered Cart (next to bed)

First and foremost, I cannot stress enough how much of a lifesaver the three tiered cart is for a dorm room. It has the potential to serve so many needs and really just helps with maximizing the space of your room. I had seen these trending on Tik Tok as snack carts or used to hold arts and crafts, and I knew that when I moved, I would want one for my room, because I saw its potential for all my skincare and beauty products. As expected, when I moved I ended up using it just as I had intended to use it. I bought some little containers from Daiso that were stackable that could fit in each tier to really max out the usage, and it worked perfectly to store my skincare. I ended up even using the bottom tier to hold some of my extra stuff, and nail care. The best part was how it doubled as a nightstand. I could put all my items that I would normally put on a nightstand at home on it, and that was such a cool bonus, as I wasn’t given a nightstand. Again you don’t have to use it the way that I did, but I highly recommend you buy one as it really is a versatile and useful product.

  1. Laundry Backpack

I didn’t end up getting this until 2nd semester, but I’m so glad I did. I lived on the 3rd floor, and it was so annoying to haul my laundry basket down to the laundry room every time I needed to do laundry. In fact the reason why I even bought this was because my laundry basket’s  handles tore apart because I overstuffed it so much. So we looked into alternatives and found this backpack. Honestly, a great find on my mom’s part. It can fit literally three full loads of clothes, as well as all my bedding in it. It’s amazing and so much easier to lug up and down from the laundry room to my apartment. If you’re gonna buy anything from this list, BUY THIS. Your kid and their frustration will thank you later.

  1. Mattress Pad Topper

I’m not gonna say much about this one, but yes this is a non-negotiable essential. Those blue twin size mattresses are as painful, gross, and stiff as they look. Please do your kid’s back a favor and buy this. They’ll really appreciate it.

  1. Electric Tea Kettle

This is more of a personal one, but I love tea, so yeah a kettle is a must. Luckily, my mom is also a tea lover and had a spare electric kettle I could bring with me. It’s a small way to bring some comfort from home. So whether it’s a tea kettle, coffee maker, or something else, try to send the things that bring your college student the home away from home comfort. And bonus, I don’t have to buy tea everyday so it’s a money saver too LOL. (Note: While my college dorm allowed tea kettles, be sure to check your student’s housing rules to determine any restrictions on small appliances).

  1. Folding Step Stool

Okay so this one was controversial in my household. Depending on how your bed is configured, chances are your bed will be able to fit a full-size dresser underneath, meaning that your bed is really high up. Unless you’re like 6 feet, you will not be able to easily climb up onto your bed. Well prior to move-in day, TTL and I fought as she thought that I was exaggerating when I said that I would not be able to climb up onto my bed without a stool. I begged her while we were in Bed, Bath, & Beyond for one, and she finally caved and bought it for me. Well, flash forward to move in day, she apologized, because as I already knew, it would have been impossible for me to get into my bed ( I’m 5’4 btw ;b). So moral of the story always listen to your kids…JK. No but for real, don’t forget to buy one of these, your kid will want to have access to their bed at night. 

  1. Full Length Mirror

This was a no-brainer. Depending on your configuration, you might be able to share a mirror with your roommate but check first. Some people like to hang their mirrors inside their personal closet so that might not be practical to share. Since you’re not allowed to put holes in the wall, I’d suggest either getting an over the door hanging mirror or a lightweight mirror that can be hung with command tape.

  1. Mini Fridge and Microwave

If you’re waffling back and forth on whether to get a fridge and microwave, do it. Let’s be real –  school food gets old, fast. This is another way to bring some small personal comforts from home. If your student is local, they can freeze or store small meals from home to warm up or at minimum, keep their favorite drinks and snacks on hand. It’s not always practical to run out for a cold drink or meal at any hour of the day or night and these conveniences will go a long way.

college shopping listSome Final Tips:

So I want to end this list with some final tips that helped me, especially in staying organized.

  1. I highly recommend shopping at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Amazon and Ikea for pretty much everything that you’ll need, in regards to bedding, utensils, bathroom needs, organization, etc. Bed, Bath, & Beyond has amazing deals, and great closet organizations, whereas Ikea has the best bath products, duvets, mattress protectors, etc. I pretty much bought all of the essentials from those two stores, and highly recommend them for the best bang for your buck. I wanted to pick out my college essentials in person, but for my online shoppers you can never go wrong with Amazon for most things. They have great deals for bedding, like this all-in-one dorm essentials kit with bedding, pillows, storage, towels & more. 
  2. On move-in day, if you have a wagon or cart of some type bring it. My mom brought her wagon with her to help me move in and we only had to do like 2 or 3 trips in total that day. It really helped in transferring my boxes to my apartment. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, schools provide a cart for you to use, it’s just helpful if you do have one.
  3. If you live near a DAISO, please buy all your organization containers from there. Also buy all of your school supplies there. I literally buy all my stationary there, including folders, binders, notebooks, staplers, etc. It’s so much cheaper than even Amazon prices. School supplies are so expensive and they make it so much more affordable. They’re literally so cheap, and I just love it there in general. You never know what great finds you’ll see there so do check it out if you live near one.
  4. Random tip but before you buy your textbooks, find out if you can rent an e-book version and if the professor allows it. It’s so much cheaper, and if they don’t, check amazon. You can rent from them, and it’s still a cheaper alternative than buying or even renting from your school’s bookstore directly. Also search up your textbook, you might find a PDF of it. 

College dorm room essentialsWith all these tips in mind, you are ready for your next steps into dorm life, and congrats on beginning or continuing your college journey! I hope at least something in this blog was useful, so remember to do what works for you, and good luck on the new school year!


  1. LISA BRYCE says:

    my daughter just moved in her new apartment and had most of these items. love it! she’s a sophomore and my baby and just moved in this week. many tears were shed!

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I’m a clean beauty expert, a plant-based recipe guru, a fashion maven, and a mature black woman embracing my natural hair, silver streaks and all.

Welcome, I'm Tennille Murphy