Dorm Essentials Shopping List

Don’t Forget the College Snack Box!

Although college and dorm life might not look the same for everyone this fall, some university students will get to return to their dorms this fall to continue working toward their college degrees — or start their freshman year in their own place!

Make sure your college student is fully prepared for dorm living. Check their college’s housing guidelines before buying anything to make sure they’re allowed, but in general the following are considered dorm essentials — so add them to your shopping list! (And don’t forget care package supplies!)

  • Twin XL bedding (or the size your university indicates). You’ll want to buy, at a minimum, one sheet set, one comforter, and one pillow. Consider that dorm rooms don’t have a lot of storage for duplicates, but an extra blanket may be a good idea.
  • A mattress pad. Separate your sheets from the mattress and add a level of comfort that dorm mattress so often lack.
  • Small area rug. Not all dorm rooms are carpeted. Tile floors are cold in the mornings and late at night, so a small area rug near the bed can make a dorm room feel more homey.
  • Four-cup coffee pot. Caffeine is fuel for late-night study sessions and early mornings. Plus, you can heat water in the carafe to pour into a cup-o-noodles! 
  • Basic school supplies. You’ll want notebooks, folders, notecards, and your favorite writing utensils, at a minimum.
  • Laptop or tablet for doing homework. Laptops work better for writing papers, but tablets with accessory keyboards are also well-suited for the job. It all comes down to personal preference.
  • Dry erase board. Some dorms let you hang them on your door to leave notes and messages. Others don’t. But small dry erase boards are also good for jotting down important memos, like, “Call Mom!”
  • Laundry basket and accessories. Pick a hamper big enough to hold at least a week’s worth of clothes. Don’t forget the detergent and quarters, if you have to pay by the load.
  • Lamp. A small desk lamp or clip-on lamp can light your student’s bed or desk without disturbing their roommate.
  • Decor items that remind you of home. Framed family photos, fun posters, and other small mementos that can be displayed on the wall using Command strips or similar can add to the homey vibe.
  • Sturdy backpack. This is an absolute necessity for walking across campus, and a good one can last all four years of undergraduate school.
  • Plate set. Consider buying one or two place settings (plates, bowls, mugs, drinking glasses, utensils) to have on hand for take-out or microwave meals. You’ll also need dish soap and sponge to keep them clean.
  • Television. Take advantage of the free cable and high-speed internet in your dorm room! Binge-watch shows on lazy Saturday afternoons, or screen course-relevant films for a few classmates in your study group.
  • Spare medications. In case you can’t get to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, a week’s worth tucked away in a drawer can provide the back-up you need.
  • Shower caddy full of hygiene products. Even if you share a bathroom only with your roommate or suitemates, it’s nice to keep all your belongings in the bathroom contained and tidy.
  • Two bath towels, two hand towels, and enough wash cloths for a week. A towel supply of this size should get your student through the academic week without having to do laundry.
  • Clothes hangers for your closet or wardrobe, for hanging up clothes.
  • Fan. Although in 2020, most dorms have central air conditioning, you don’t always get to control the temperature. A fan can help you stay cool or circulate air.
  • Alarm clock, other than a cell phone. An alarm clock backs up a cell phone, which is especially good for people who tend to turn off their alarms in their sleep.
  • Small locking box. Students can stow valuables and extra cash in a lock box, which should be kept somewhere out of sight. 
  • Small tool kit. A wrench, hammer, pair of pliers, duct tape, and screwdrivers should be enough to get you through! Make minor repairs to your belongings with these tools, but call maintenance for anything more serious.
  • Small sewing kit. Get one with basic thread colors and spare buttons. Watch YouTube videos to learn how to mend your own clothes!
  • Basic office supplies. Tape, scissors, a stapler, school glue, and maybe a set of markers should be adequate for any projects or activities.
  • Umbrella. For traversing campus in rain.
  • Basic cleaning supplies. You’ll likely want a basic disinfectant, paper towels, and a broom for starters, but it’s often helpful to know more about your dorm room before choosing these cleaners.
  • Mini-fridge and microwave. Some schools allow you to rent these for the school year, which is highly recommended.
  • Clothing. Bring along your daily clothing, dressier outfits, a variety of shoes, pajamas, swimming apparel, etc. 
  • Over-the-counter meds. Consider bringing painkillers and anti-inflammatories like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, allergy medications with antihistamine, and antidiarrheals. 
  • “Daily life” items. These are things you’d never do without anyway: your cell phone, a charger, etc.
  • Snacks! Fill the cupboard every month with a college snack box subscription from My College Crate. Each month, your student will receive snacks, school supplies, and other surprises, as well as a reminder that someone at home loves them! Subscribe today to start shipping care packages to your college kid!