What to Bring to the Dorms, As Told By a Survivor

As I begin my journey of leaving school and searching for my first adult apartment, there are 18 year olds across the world getting ready to move into a 2×2 room in the dorms.

college dorm room decorations:

Moving into the dorms is one of those things that is a rite of passage and a pain in the bum. My own dorm could barely fit more than the two beds and I had to inhabit it with another person. But that’s not to say it wasn’t great! From fitting half my hall in my room to gossip at midnight, to epic fort building competitions in the lounge, to making friends that I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of, my dorm experience was amazing. Even if it was in a room smaller than my apartment’s kitchen.

Now that I’ve survived the dorms (and lived to tell the tale) I thought I would share my wisdom on what I found to be the things you’ll definitely need for move-in day, and some things that are only going to weigh you down. After nine months of living in Bean West, this girl is the queen of what goes in – and what should stay out – of the dorms.

The Enthusiast Moves: Dorm Edition

What You Should Bring

cool dorm room:

Bedding

This is a duh one, but it’s more than just packing a duvet. Make sure to have sheets that fit your bed, a duvet cover (you know, the one that goes over the insert – much easier to lug to the laundry room), pillow shams, and then a throw blanket for when it’s too warm for a duvet or for when you’re sitting in the lounge telling ghost stories at 3am.

Great deals for bedding can be found everywhere, but stock up now before everyone else gets there!

Towels

Another duh but here’s a good towel guide: a big sheet towel, a washcloth, and a hand towel (to keep in your room for spills). Only buy one set of towels to save room, because yes, you will have to fit everything on this list in a room, and half of one if you have a roommate.

Bathrobe

Did I ever tell you guys about the time I went to go take a shower one morning and opened the door and at the same time the girl across the hall was saying goodbye to her one night stand? Thank goodness I was wearing my bathrobe! Buy one that doesn’t take a lot of room in your closet and makes walking down a hallway or two to get to the showers not awkward.

Laundry bag & supplies

This isn’t your house. No moms are doing laundry. Buy yourself a sturdy laundry basket (I’m obsessed with the fabric ones from BBB) and make carrying your laundry a lot easier. For me, I had to go down three flights of stairs and across a courtyard, so don’t think it will be any easy feat. Also, bring detergent, bleach, and fabric softener.

Body pillow

Whether you’re sitting in the lounge watching horror films, sitting in your room whining about grades with your roommate, or going across campus to sleep over at a friend’s house, you’ll want a body pillow. I used mien so much freshman year and I still use it! And whenever I had friends come in my room they always flocked to it. It’s seriously the #1 thing you need to buy.

Plastic tubs for storage

You’re going to have a lot of crap and not a lot of room. Use plastic drawers/tubs/etc. and store them underneath your bed or on top of your dresser. You’ll thank me later.

Hot water kettle

You could make coffee, tea, ramen, hot chocolate, etc. with a hot water kettle. Bonus: If it’s cold in your room just heat it up a few times, it actually works!

Bowl & cutlery

You aren’t always going to want to eat in the dining hall. Have a bowl (it has many purposes) and some cutlery (unless you steal some from said dining hall) and you can enjoy meals and snacks in the luxury of your bedroom at 3am during finals week.

Fan

My roommate and I wouldn’t have survived a night without my Lil Blizzard going on in the corner. These small fans make for a powerful wind on hot nights but take up little room.

Beach towel

When I first brought a beach towel I never thought I would use it, but I was wrong. From listening to A Capella at midnight in the grass, to enjoying some Frisbee on a warm June afternoon, whenever there is an outdoor activity you’ll wish you brought that towel.

Mirror

Unless you dorm provides a mirror, bring one. Doesn’t have to be big, but it’s great for checking yourself real quick before an 8am, or for when there are 20 other people fighting for the mirror in the hallway before going out Friday night.

Movies and games

You’ll be the life of the party, and they don’t take up a lot of room!

Lamp

Don’t kill your corneas with the awful light dorm-supplied lamps provide. Bring a lamp with you. Warning: Make sure it is approved by your school, some places have strict lamp policies (like mine) and will take it away.

Stool

Can be used as an extra sitting space or a way to reach the top of the wardrobe where you accidentally threw your sock last night after a study session. Or you could break it while playing tag in a dorm room like I did.

Fridge

This one can go either way, but having a fridge in a room is great. You can have snacks, drinks, and leftovers. My roommate and I ever had a water pitcher in ours for cold water. I mostly loved it because I could sleep in an extra 20 minutes because I could eat cereal in my room and not the dining hall.

Speakers

Bring some small speakers that you can plug a phone in. At some point there will be a dance party and someone will need speakers. And that’s the story of how you and 20 other people played Disney karaoke on a cold November night.

What You Shouldn’t Bring

Above the Refrigerator or Microwave  You most likely have a refrigerator in your dorm. Whether or not you have a microwave on top of it, use the top as a small shelf to put things on. We suggest you put food and other kitchen supplies here (it is, after all, right above the refrigerator or microwave). Buy a locker shelf to double the space, and put cereal, soup, napkins, and plates here.:

Printer

There is printing on campuses for a reason. By the time you spend $150 on a printer, $20 on paper, $40 on ink, and the strength to lug it into your room and make space, you could have copied 400 pages of a textbook, 30 pages of your homework assignment, and printed two midterm papers on the school printers. Generally schools make you pay about 10 cents for a page, and a lot of majors don’t have that much printing. Actually, UO’s School of Journalism has free printing for journalism-related projects.

Fridge

On the flip side, having a fridge is a waste of money and space. The dining halls are a great way to socialize and are open most hours. Fridges are big (even the small one I had) and usually you never use them once you move out of the dorms. Mine sits in my parent’s garage two years later, my ex’s sat unused in his bedroom, my roommate’s is in her closet gathering dust, etc. No one will use it after! But I do appreciate my friend Metz for carrying it up an entire flight of stairs for me.

Chair

Don’t bring a chair to “hang”. Get a stool that can fit under your bed or something. Chairs take up too much space and are a hassle to move in and out. Plus, most people will just sit on your bed.

TV

Not once in nine months did I need a TV. I have my laptop for Netflix and movies, most lounges have a TV, and if I want to watch a commercial I’ll just go on YouTube. There’s no need for a TV. Plus, it’ll likely get broken in the moving process.

All of your clothes

DO. NOT. BRING. ALL. OF. YOUR. CLOTHES.

Sincerely, your very small dorm closet

Gaming systems

As a non-gamer I didn’t bring any, but I know that someone in your dorm will for sure have your preferred gaming console. And likely they will let you play it if you bring them chips. Save yourself the hassle of taking up space with your PS4 and just make friends with the guy who doesn’t have room for sleep, but plenty of systems.


What are you bringing to the dorms? Let me know in the comments!

Stay classy, Internet,

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