College Dorm Room Essentials

18/04/20226 minute read
College Dorm Room Essentials

Now that you’ve been accepted to your dream school and you’re ready to start your college journey, it’s time to think about what to bring to your college dorm. Setting up a college dorm might seem daunting, especially if you’re attending school far from home. What should you bring with you? What should you buy? Read on to learn about the most important college dorm room essentials and the supplies you can leave behind.

Mandy O’Flaherty is the mother of Cara, a Crimson student. She recently created a college packing list for her daughter before sending her to her dream school in the US. Cara was an international student, so her experience included a few extra steps, but the overall process was similar to what all first-year college students experience when they live on their own for the first time.

Mandy is now passing on her knowledge to other college-bound families, telling them exactly what to bring to a college dorm so their students feel safe and at home in their new surroundings.

Shopping For Dorm Room Essentials

Shopping for college is an exciting process, but it can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know what you should bring to college.

Having gone through this experience in 2020 during a lockdown, Mandy initially found the experience daunting. Still, once she familiarized herself with US terminology (e.g., comforter in the US vs. duvet in South Africa), the process became more manageable and very exciting!

If you’re an international student, you will find it easier to order most of your dorm room essentials online and have them delivered to the dorm. Most universities have mailrooms for receiving deliveries. If you have an assigned room and residence details in advance, you can plan and order your dorm essentials ahead of time. US students might find this option more convenient as well, as it will help minimize the amount of luggage and supplies they need to bring on move-in day.

Packing For College Blog

Best Places to Shop for Dorm Room Essentials

Here are just a few places students can buy their dorm room essentials. 


Amazon is the most convenient place to get dorm essentials. There are many vendors to select from, most products are competitively priced, and the shipping is fast. 


The value and product offerings at Target are always trendy and up to date. They are also a go-to for everyday essentials like stationery, toiletries, and cleaning materials.


Etsy is a great place to shop for unique items like pillows, accessories, and wall décor. Plus, you get the bonus of supporting small businesses.


Dormify focuses on all things dorm room and is a one-stop-shop for designing your room’s color palette and theme. You can shop “Room Vibes” on their site and select “Palm Springs Room” or “Simply Chic Room” for your décor inspiration and further filter your choices by color. They have the added benefit of offering a free design consultation online.


Walmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Urban Outfitters

Ready to start your education journey? Book a free consultation with our advisors to learn more about how Crimson can help you!

Dorm Packing BlogThe College Dorm Checklist

Now that you know where to find the best items for your new dorm, it’s time to create a college packing list! Remember, it’s still important to compare prices, and lots of these items can be purchased online. Just check delivery dates, so you don’t go without essentials at the start of the semester!

  • Velvet hangers (take up far less space than bulky plastic hangers and are nonslip)
  • Duvet/Comforter
  • Pillows
  • Bed linen set
  • Mattress topper
  • Set of towels
  • Shower tote/caddy to hold bathroom essentials and carry to the bathroom
  • Laundry bag (preferably pop up and with a handle so that you can carry it like a backpack)
  • Bed risers (so that the bed can be lifted to provide additional storage underneath)
  • Storage bag organizers with clear windows and large zips for under bed storage (ideal for shoes, bulky items, and to store extra bedding)
  • 3M Command hooks and hanging strips. These hooks won’t damage walls and are perfect for hanging towels and room décor.
  • Handheld steamer (more manageable than an iron)
  • Storage bins (for additional toiletries, make-up, etc.)
  • Cordless handheld vacuum
  • Cleaning materials: Washing pods and disinfectant wipes for cleaning surfaces
  • Water bottle for hot and cold usage
  • Desk lamp (with USB charging port)
  • Mirror (if not provided)
  • Surge protector power strip with charging ports and power outlets
  • Blue light blocking glasses 

And that’s it! If you have these essentials, you won’t have to worry about your dorm room set up and you can focus on more important things like figuring out where your classes are and making new friends!

Dorm Room Extras

If you’ve bought the basics and want to add a little more to your dorm room, here are a few extra items to make your dorm room feel more like home. 

  • Room diffuser
  • Decorative cushions
  • Bedside table
  • Magnetic whiteboard erasable wall planner
  • Kettle and mug
  • Small 1 pod coffee machine (e.g. Keurig, Lavazza)
  • Milk frother for coffee
  • Small fridge
  • Yoga mat
  • Heavy-duty clothing rack on wheels for additional storage
  • Faux desk plant
  • Wall tapestry, wall prints, and neon signs 
  • Hang it photo display 

Now you’re all set! 

Final Tips Before Moving into your Dorm Room

Most rooms have a bed (twin XL), desk, chair, bin, and closet. If you can find out the room layout and furniture supplied before you move in, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to buy and what you need to create your little slice of home.

If you’re an international student, find out if the university offers summer storage. Many universities offer summer school and require the rooms to be completely emptied during the summer break. If the university doesn’t provide storage, you can pay for off-campus storage. This option can be expensive, so it might be best to only purchase the essentials.

If you’re excited about studying at a top university and living in the dorms, Crimson can help you get there! Sign up today to speak to an Academic Advisor! They can help you start your journey to the university of your dreams!