As you finalize the plans for getting your college student packed and ready for that long haul off to campus, their are a few tips that I would like to share with you from my own experience. After going through the rigors of getting a few college students settled in throughout those 8 semesters, spread out over 4 years, I quickly picked picked up on the essentials that help them to make life comfortable and efficient. These are the 9 must have items every college student needs for dorm life.
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9 Must Have Items Every College Student Needs…
I have to say that their is nothing luxurious about the average dorm room. Space is limited, the bed is not comfortable, and the storage is almost nonexistent. There are also several things that hinder a student’s ability to alter the looks, like the rules against using nails.
Then, there are the bathrooms. They are pretty nondescript. The biggest issue is with the students sharing. If you’re lucky, your student will share with just their roommate. However, many dorm rooms have the bathrooms centered between 2 dorm rooms. So, that means that 4 people will share a bathroom with each other. In addition, they will most likely have guests using the facilities, as well. But, I can tell you how I help students plan for this scenario and all the other space issues that can come up with dorm living.
9 Must Have Items Every College Student Needs…
Let’s start with the bed. One thing that you should know about dorm room beds is that they are extra long. They are not the same length as a standard twin size bed. So, you don’t want to pack regular sheets only to find out later that they won’t fit. It is a good idea to purchase bedding that will work*. I like this bed-in-a-bag* solution. Everything that you need comes in the set, and it is available in multiple colors*.
Now, let’s address the storage situation. Most dorms have either a basic dresser or a small wardrobe for each student to use. Very few will offer both. This will give the student just enough space to store their clothes. However, their is so much more that will require storing that many don’t think of until they are unpacking and sorting things later that afternoon. Then, there is usually a mad scramble to the local department store to try to find something to use for additional storage.
Some of the things that are often over looked is storage space needed for bed linens, towels, cosmetics, body care products, and food. A great location for adding more storage is under the bed. These popup under the bed storage boxes* are perfect for that. They can hold extra blankets, towels, and even extra clothes.
I like them because they are very compact for the trip to the campus, but they pop right up when you get ready to use them. They have a central divider to help organize items, but the divider can be removed for large items. These also come in a variety of colors for both boys and girls*.
Another good storage device is a drawer organizer*. I like these* because they are a good way to turn one of those drawers in the dresser into a place to store cosmetics, personal effects, and odds-and-ends. They also help to keep the drawers organized so that one drawer can be used for several types of clothing. (For more on organizing clothes efficiently, you should check out these space saving ideas).
In addition to the clean clothes that need to be stored, let’s not forget the dirty clothes. A good, solid, carry bag that can serve as a hamper is always needed. I like these canvas bags* because they hold up much better than the standard mesh bag. The bottom is round and flat, so the bag can serve as a hamper. Plus, they have a nice sturdy handle that makes it easy to carry the bag when needed. It folds up nicely for out of the way storage when not in use. Multiple colors available*.
Now that we have gone over the storage issues, let’s move on to those bathrooms. One thing that I ALWAYS tell the students is to wear shoes in the bathroom. I know it is not something that sounds appealing, but you really don’t know who or what has been in/on those floors. They should treat the bathrooms the same way as they would a public shower stall. That means a good pair of shower flip flops* is a good idea.
In addition, having a way to transport all of their personal items to and from the bathroom is important. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard students complain about their shampoo or toilet paper disappearing. When money gets tight, a roll of toilet paper can be a cause for some serious disputes. It’s best to just make sure that your college student has their own supply, again just like a public stall. I like this carry all bag*. It is a perfect way to keep those items stored away, and it is easy to transport back and forth as needed. (TIP – add some lysol wipes to the bag to enable a quick and sanitary toilet).
Did I mention food? Food is a big deal in dorm life. Every college students needs to have a way to store both refrigerated and non refrigerated food items. Obviously, the refrigerated items will require a mini fridge*. But, most of us wonder which mini fridge is the best value. After all, no one wants to buy an appliance that dies within a short period of time. So, I am sharing my two favorite mini fridges.
This 1.7 cubic foot Haier* is my favorite for the cube sized fridge. This is what I have in my theater room. It has been there for 3 years now and has run non-stop. It has a small freezer section for those who wish to store a very small amount of frozen food. This is good if you wish to store some of those frozen microwavable dinners. Pros: It stays cold, and with a minimal amount of care, should last throughout the entire 4 years. Cons: It requires defrosting about 2x per year. However, this can be done at semester’s end.
For those who want just a little more storage space, this Danby* is a good product for the price. I had one of these several years ago. It lasted 6 months for me. Then, I gave it to a college student who got another 2 years from it before he gave it to someone else.
Pros: It is large enough to hold several weeks worth of food for a single person, and there is no need to defrost.
Cons: There is no freezer with this unit. So, you would be restricted to cold foods only.
Non refrigerated food storage is a big deal, as well. Most college students will need a place to store bread and chips for quick sandwiches. I like to use a mini fridge stand* for storing all those pantry items, and this little stand is perfect for that. Not only does it elevate the mini fridge, but these drawers are the perfect place for paper plates, napkins, bread and chips. The pottery barn has one very similar to this one, but with a much higher price tag. At just $59.99, this compact stand* is a must have.
Now that we have the food storage out of the way, lets discuss cooking it. The final piece of the food puzzle for a dorm room is a microwave. Most dorm rooms will not allow hot plates or burners in a dorm, but they will allow microwaves. This Westinghouse microwave* is perfect for stacking on top of the mini fridge. I bought one of these for a college girl once, and it lasted well beyond her time in school.
A microwave makes it possible for students to microwave frozen foods, or to pop open a can of soup and heat-and-go.This microwave* runs about $62, and is a good addition for dorm life.
And, where would we be without decorations. Every college student wants to make their dorm room their own. Unfortunately, they can not use nails or anything that will damage the walls. But, this is where 3M Command Hooks* come into play.
Anything that you want to hang on the walls will need to be done with command strips. I like them because they offer loads of extra storage space. With these, jewelry can be stored on the wall, and shelves can be hung from them as well – providing lots of extra space. Make sure that you have several packs of these when heading out for the campus.
There are many other items that I am sure your college student will need. These are just the 9 must have items every college student needs for dorm life. For more ways to get your student organized, check out my free student planner printable.
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