Okay, so you got into a college and you’ve accepted and decided that you’re going to live in the dorms. What do you even bring to dorms? What is it even like to live in them?
So, I am currently a college freshman, at the end of my second quarter, and I have a few things (not all the things) figured out. Just to establish some context, I live in a triple in a regular residence hall, meaning I have two roommates, our room is slightly larger than my room back home but with two more people in it, and I share a bathroom with roughly half my floor (genders, yo). I have one desk, one closet, and there is no under the bed storage because my desk and closet are under the bed (lofts, yo). I am female, I try to brush my teeth twice a day, I shower basically almost kind of every day, and I put on makeup every day. I am not what I would consider “high maintenance”. I am also not what I would consider “low maintenance”. I mean, fuck, I put on makeup every day, but I don’t like straighten my hair or anything.
So now, here are the things that I think are necessary to bring to a college dorm, arranged into categories that I thought were appropriate.
- Pillows. You need at least one, and you’re gonna need some more if somebody’s sleeping over on your floor. Or in your bed. Or in your roommate’s bed.
- A blanket. This will also come in handy if your guest is sleeping on your floor or your roommate’s bed. (Spoiler: most people don’t like it when other people sleep under their covers. Seriously, bro, unless I know you and know what you’re about, don’t sleep under my covers.)
- Sheets. Honestly, one set is enough. You’re not going to wash your sheets, let’s be real. (Okay, maaaybe two sets, but really you’re not gonna sleep while you’re doing laundry, just put the same set of sheets back on when they’re done drying.)
- Comforter. This is a necessity during finals week when you just want to pull it off your bed and make yourself a cocoon. (Like I’m doing right now…)
- Mattress protector. Ain’t gonna be no bedbugs all up in here.
- Stuffed animals. I don’t care what your gender is or how much of a badass you think you are. You’re gonna need something to cuddle. These can also be replaced by decorative pillows or something, but I prefer stuffed animals. I have three.
- Just enough organizing shit to get you to stay organized. Personally, I have a few mason jars for pens, pencils, makeup, etc. I have a few bowls and a large shell for jewelry and hair ties and bobby pins and shit. For my papers I have two magazine holder organizey things and four folders that I just keep vertical on the desk between the magazine organizers.
- Lamp/reading light. Mine is just a nice little clip-on one from Ikea.
- Laptop case if you’re bougey like that. Also a laptop lock if you’re paranoid like that. If your roommates have a lot of friends over who you don’t know, or if you know they leave the door open while you’re not in the room, maybe invest in one of these. I use mine about half the time, which I figure at least slightly reduces the risk of it being stolen from my room.
- A stapler and some staples can come in handy, but chances are your computer lab or library or wherever the fuck you’re printing your shit has staples.
- Tape. I literally haven’t use my regular tape at all, but I HAVE used my purple duck tape. I love my purple duck tape so much.
- Tissues. For when you’re crying over your chemistry homework. And also when you spill shit. You can also use hand towels for this, but we’ll get to that later.
- Post-its. If you’re like me and you forget shit all the time, these are very necessary. What’s my mailbox code? What time is that club meeting? When is that roommate contract due? Let me check that handy post-it note I wrote for myself!
- Power strip. You need this. A lot. You might need two. And an extension cord. There are literally two sets of outlets in my room for three people, and they are located not so very close to my desk/bed.
- Command hooks. I have them in my closet for extra purses, I have them on my above desk shelf thing for necklaces, I have one by my bed to hang a flashlight for emergencies. I use command hooks like nobody’s business.
- MAYBE some little stick-on battery-powered lights. You know the ones. If you don’t, well, whatever. I have one under my shelf above my desk and one inside my closet for the mornings. If you turn on the overhead light while any or all of your roommates are asleep, you are an asshole.
- Speaking of being an asshole, bring headphones. Your roommates do not want to listen to your music. My roommates don’t like my music, and I don’t like theirs, so headphones are just always the way to go.
- A laptop. This is sort of obvious, unless you can’t afford it. Even if you think you can’t afford it though, think about it because it’s a really really really good investment.
- FIRST AID SHIT. This is important. Your RA will probably have a more extensive first aid setup than you, and that is good. But just in case, you probably need bandaids, antibacterial cream, painkillers, other medicines, stuff like that. Maybe a thermometer if you’re really concerned about getting a fever, though I haven’t used mine yet and you could probably just borrow a friend’s.
For your closet!
- Thin hangers. Pls. Do yourself a favor and just get those nice thin velvety ones on the cheap, they are AMAZING and save so much space.
- Maybe one of those hanging shoe rack things. I don’t put shoes in there, I roll up my t-shirts and undershirts and stick them in there along with underwear and bras and shit. Shoes go on the floor in a pile, bitch.
- Maybe some other things to hold your things. I have a couple little boxish things from Ikea that I stack on top of each other. One’s got PJs in it and the other holds all my socks.
- ONE bowl. MAYBE a plate if you really think you’re going to use it. I do not use my plate. At all.
- As many forks, spoons, knives as you think you will need. I use my four spoons a lot for tea and oatmeal, and I use my forks a lot for apple fork (if you don’t know what this is yet, don’t worry, you will). I only use one knife for peanut butter, soo…
- One reusable water bottle, and one to-go coffee mug thing.
- Mugs! Go ham. If you drink tea, like me, or if you drink coffee or really if you drink anything and if you like to share warm beverages with friends like any sane human being, you need mugs. I have four, and they are always dirty because I have a fuck ton of tea parties with my friends. They’re just more fun than cups, even if you’re just drinking water. That said, maybe also bring ONE cup just for you.
- Pitcher. Unless you want to go to the sink or drinking fountain every fucking time you need a cup of water, you need one of these. It does not have to be a fancy one, especially if, like me, all your water is for tea anyway so you’re just going to boil it.
- Electric kettle if you’re a big tea drinker or enjoy instant noodles. In other words, you need this. ALSO, instant coffee. Who needs a coffee maker when you have boiling water and powdered coffee weirdness at your disposal?
- Assorted foodstuffs. Bring what you think is appropriate, but just know that you CAN and you WILL smuggle food out of the dining hall. This includes but is not limited to desserts, fresh fruit, bagels, and any of the cutlery or cups that you forgot to bring (those last aren’t food, I know). Food I DO have in my dorm includes a bag of almonds, a box of Cheezits, instant oatmeal, emergency chocolate, snacking chocolate/candy, instant noodles, and a box of chocolate Cheerios (not to eat in a bowl with milk, just to snack). Also tea. I have an entire drawer of tea. (Sidenote: if you like tea, also bring a tea infuser. Even if you don’t yet have loose tea, you will make tea-loving friends who have some.)
- Disinfecting wipes. I wipe down the surface of my desk occasionally. Also sometimes my windowsill. That’s about it though.
- Dish soap. You just kinda need it.
- A pack of sponges. I did not bring this and just ended up stealing a sponge from a friend, but these are useful. You don’t actually need a sponge to wash your dishes (surprise, surprise), but they’re handy little motherfuckers.
- Dish/hand towels! These little babies are the reason you’re not bringing paper towels. Bring a fair amount of these. I have like six, but regularly use about three per laundry-doing period. You wipe shit up with them, you dry your face with them, they’re just very handy.
- A couple real towels. Unless, like me, you wait as long as you possibly can to do laundry (meaning, until you run out of clean underwear). If this is you, or you think you might become this, it is indeed worth it to buy a third towel.
- Shower shoes (really cheap flip-flops). I know we just morphed into shower stuff, but whatever, it’s for cleaning yourself.
- Possibly a robe. I have a Forever 21 satiny leopard print robe that I sort of splurged on with birthday money. Ideally, though, you want something that covers your butt while you walk to and from the shower. You can seriously just wrap yourself in your towel though, pretty much everyone does it.
- Laundry detergent. Yes, we just morphed into laundry, it’s still for cleaning so whatever.
- Dryer sheets. I guess you could do without these, but c’mon, man, think of the lavender breeze.
- Laundry bag. If you’re in a triple like me, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not bring a hamper that you’re going to leave out that just takes up a shit ton of space. Bring a bag and hang it somewhere out of the way and be fucking courteous. If you have more space, by all means be a bitch and bring a fucking hamper and drying rack. I mean, drying racks can be handy but why not just be ratchet like me and hang your delicates on your bed and off handles and shit?
- Deck of cards. I use this regularly.
- Board games. If you want to become the most popular person on your floor, bring Cards Against Humanity and Monopoly. These things are essentials on weekends. Believe it or not, college kids go apeshit for a good board/card game.
- Movies you love and want to share with other people.
- BOOKS. If you’re like me and you like to read, you’re going to want a new-to-you book or two to read in your spare time. You don’t really get spare time, actually, but when you just want to sit down with a cup of tea and book, well, you need a book. DO NOT bring your favorite books unless you KNOW you’re going to reread them or loan them to people.
Extraneous and/or Girly Shit
- I have a lot of earrings, so I have an earring holder made out of window screen and a largeish picture frame. It’s just up there on command hooks. Again, command hooks. They will save you.
- A couple pairs of heels. One of them should be professional, like a pair of black pumps or something, and one of them should be for frat parties. The former you will need for career fairs and shit, and the latter you will need for frat parties. Now, I didn’t think I was a frat party kind of girl, but inevitably you will go to them, and you need a pair of heels that make you feel sexy but that you also don’t mind getting some beer on.
- Frat party clothes. Guys, you can get away with wearing whatever, but LADIES, we have it tough. If you’re like high school me and you don’t have any “party clothes”, invest in one or two crop tops and a black bodycon skirt, or a dress that can be slutted up a little, something that’s slightly too ratchet for your mom to see you in.
- A resume. Just consider drawing one up over the summer. You may need it for those aforementioned career fairs.
- Career fair clothes. Literally just one pair of black slacks and a nice top.
- Decorations. I have some assorted posters and a picture from the Women in Physics conference I went to hanging over my bed. If you want a bunch of pictures of your family and hometown friends, that’s good too.
- If you plan on going swimming, hiking, camping, plan accordingly and bring proper attire, shoes, sleeping bag, etc.
- Also, if you have facewash, lotion, makeup, a straightener, a curling iron, any of that other shit, you already know you’re bringing that. Straighteners also double as irons in a pinch, because who has room for a motherfucking iron and ironing board? ALSO you may not think you need it now, but dry shampoo. Think about it. Some days you just do not have time to shower and this stuff will fucking save you.
- A bleach pen. These little buggers are amazingly useful, but when I need one I just borrow one from a friend.
THINGS YOU ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT NEED.
- A television. What’d you buy a laptop for, bitch? It’s like you don’t even know what Netflix is. You can play DVDs on here too.
- A printer. Yeah, you do not need this.
- A vacuum. Your fucking RA has one of these, I know she does.
- Any of that other stupid shit those other checklists will tell you to bring. You just do not need a can opener, or oven mitts, or an over the door organizer, or a bagel slicer, or a pizza cutter. You’re a starving college student now, you don’t have time for that bougey nonsense. Notice that I did not even mention a fridge, microwave, or toaster, or a blender, because you DON’T NEED THOSE THINGS EITHER. You think you do, but you don’t. You don’t need fucking yoghurt every morning, or perfectly toasted whole wheat toast. Ramen will do for you now, thanks, I mean who even has time to cook? Not us starving college students, that’s for sure. What’s your meal plan even for, bitch?
- And lastly, condoms. No, I am not telling you not to have sex. Have all the sex you want, just don’t PAY for your condoms. There are so many free condoms out there. Find them.